India is a country with very rich history and much richer heritage. Various art forms are part of the Indian heritage. The Arabic Calligraphy forms an integral part of this heritage. Some art forms were brought and developed in India and some of them were born in India.

The early Arabic traders introduced the Arabic Calligraphy art in India around the 7th century. Spirituality was the core purpose of the existence of this art. This art was initiated to preserve the scripts of the Holy Quran. It is a simple yet an artistic illustration of Arabic fonts from the Holy Quran.

The Arabic Calligraphy designs were developed during the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate in India. Hence, this art emerged as a mainstream art. Qutubuddin Aibak, who ruled Delhi, decorated and covered Qutub Minar with intricate carvings, designs, and verses of Quran. The Humayun’s tomb in Delhi and the Mughal coins showcase this monumental heritage. The Arabic Calligraphy art form majorly flourished in the Mughals reign. This is also the Mughal art form.

Hence, the Muslim rule in India established a diverse culture along with the fresh ink of Arabic Calligraphy styles or designs or paintings to last persistently. The Arabic Calligraphy history is the virtue of the religious and spiritual aspects of life.

In conclusion, the calligraphy design is a precious art since the artists practicing this art are rare. These artists are losing their demand and respect in the society. Therefore, Nazariya has joined hands with these artists and has taken a pledge to give them the true value for their talent.

Finally, this Eid, admire their work by getting one of their masterpieces home. Get a customized manuscript for yourself by these wonderful artisans and wish your loved ones Eid in the most artistic way. Let us explore more about the Arabic Calligraphy paintings in the Images given below.

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Content research and written by Prasanna Balakrishna

Image Source: tamilnadu.com

Bommalattam art, a performing art of puppet show or puppet dance is one of the oldest art forms in South India. Bommalattam puppetry was originated in Tamil Nadu state. Tamil Nadu is a birthplace of various arts, entertainments, and dances. The puppet show is performed in temples during various festivals. The performances last for a week or ten days, usually continuing overnight.

Bommalattam was also used during the freedom struggle to promote nationalistic zeal.

BEAUTY AND TASTE

The puppets are made of cloth, wood, leather, or other materials. The strings or wires are used to control the puppets. The hands and legs of the puppets are tied to the strings. Highly skilled and experienced puppetries stand behind a screen and move the puppets. Hence, the audience cannot see these puppeteers.

There are five to eight members in the puppet show troupe. A single puppeteer presents the entire puppet show. An assistant hands the artist the right puppet and musicians repeat the songs after their leader.

The Bommalattam finger puppet dance begins with the homage to God and continues with humorous stories. The buffoon is an extremely hilarious character displaying fun and frolic.

The Bommalattam puppetry in India is closely associated with religious and ceremonial events such as temple festivals. The individuals sponsor the puppet shows for the fulfillment of vows, thanksgiving for marriages and childbirth, or the welfare of the community. In earlier days, the puppet dance in Tamil Nadu was used to narrate religious stories, especially ethical stories. In addition to it, people believed it is auspicious to host a puppet show to shrug off evil spirits from their villages.

POPULARITY

This art is famous for its traditional tales of Valli Kalyanam (Valli’s marriage), Sita Kalyanam (Sita’s wedding), Harichandra, Lava Kusa, Nallatangal Kathai and Markandeyan Kathai (Markandeyan’s story). The traditional puppet show ideas are used these days to spread modern messages of creating awareness for family planning and AIDS.

The puppet show is also performed in a tent and a fee is charged for the same. This art is facing extinction because of lack of patronage.

HISTORY

Great performers, epic reciters, storytellers, picture-showman, and clowns were popular since the 10th century A.D. after the breakdown of classical tradition. Bommalattam puppetry history dates back to India’s medieval period and puppets were used to portray gods and heroes.

Large crowds gather to watch the bommalattam finger puppet dance. The puppeteers were always present in village markets and fairs on the occasions of civic and religious functions and also for the important household events.

Bommalattam (string puppet shows) and Thol Bommalattam (shadow puppet show) are two forms of traditional puppet shows practiced in Tamil Nadu. Bommalattam puppet dance combines the techniques of both rod puppets and string puppets.

The strings used for the show are tied to an iron ring, which the puppeteer wears like a crown. A few puppets have jointed arms and hands that are controlled by rods. The wooden Bommalattam puppets are the largest, heaviest, and most articulate of all the traditional Indian marionettes. A puppet may be as big as 4.5 feet in height and weighs up to ten kilograms.

The Thol Bommalattam puppet show uses leather shadow puppets. These are flat figures pressed against the screen with a bright light shining from behind. The puppets create silhouettes or colorful shadows for the viewers in front of the screen.

SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

Apart from the individual puppeteers, there are also many institutions involved in the promotion of Bommalattam. Some of them follow:

The Tamil Nadu Traditional, Cultural & Educational Charitable Trust endeavors to popularize the art of Tamil Nadu among students and youth. Tamil Nadu folk arts such Mayil Attam, BommalattamKummi, Kai Silambu Attam, and others are especially valued and protected.

The Government of India offers the Scheme for Scholarships to Young Artistes in Different Cultural Fields, which includes Tholu Bommalattam of Tamil Nadu.

Mahatma Gandhi University offers core courses on the folk and ritual traditions of Tamil Nadu.

The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training conducts a variety of training programs for school teachers, teacher trainers, and educational administrators so that students may know the importance of the culture of our country.

Modern students are interested in learning the art of Bommalattam and some of them have even performed during their annual day functions. It is hoped that this art will flourish again in the hands of the upcoming generation.


Content Research by Saif Ansari and Written by Seemab Alam

The sound of moving water, be it the waves of a sea hitting the shore or the gentle flow of a river, has always enthralled the best of us. To commemorate the essence of life, Nazariya brings you Jalatarangam, a percussion instrument that is tuned not with strings but with water!

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam, The Instrument

Jalatarangam is an Indian melodic percussion instrument that involves numerous ceramic or metal bowls filled with different levels of water aligned in unique patterns. When the edges of the bowl are stroked, they produce water waves that produce a sound so melodious that one would never really want it to come to a halt.

The emergence of Jalatarangam is found in Vātsyāyana’s Kamasutra as playing on musical glasses filled with water. However today this instrument has tumbled into anonymity despite its historical prominence. Being the most traditional Indian classical music, some scholars think that in the ancient period these were in routine practice around the eastern border of India.

The medieval musical treatise of Sangeet Parijaat have accomplished this instrument under Ghan-Vadya i.e. an Idiophpnic instrument in which sound is produced by striking a surface, also called concussion idiophones. The Sangeet Saar (manuscript on classical Indian music & dance) considered one with 22 cups to be complete Jalatarangam and one with 15 cups to be of mediocre status. The cups are of varying sizes were made of either bronze or porcelain.

Jaltarang, The Instrument

                       The bowls used in Jalatarangam

Today only china bowls are preferred by artists, numbering around 16 in normal use. The number of cups depends on the melody being played, in order to play this instrument the cups are arranged in a half circle in front of the player who can reach them all easily. Water is poured into the cups and pitch is changed by adjusting the volume of water in the cup. The player then softly hits the cups with a wooden stick on the border to get the sound. However playing this instrument is not at all easy, it requires a lot of skill to produce music leading to trance. Sangeet Saar also mentions that if the player can rotate the water through a quick touch of the stick, nuances and finer variations of the note can be achieved.

Poets of the Krishna cult have mentioned the wonders of Jalatarangam in their literature work. Many contemporary players of Carnatic music do attempt to produce Gamak (can be defined as a fast meend or spanning 2-3 notes normally delivered with deliberate force and vigour and repeated in an oscillatory manner) often in the face off sounds going skewed lacking required control. George Harrison played the Jalatarangam on the title track of his 1982 album Gone Troppo. In India, Seethalakshmi Doraiswamy, Shashikala Dani and Nemani Somayajulu are accomplished Jaltarang players. Also one of the major Jalatarangam pro is artist Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar hailing from Kerala. His appealing passion towards this instrument led to his creativity of incorporating both melody and laya (the tempo or speed of a piece), thus opening to a new style of playing the instrument. Today he performs in concerts worldwide and promoting the music Jalatarangam which has fallen into concealment today with the emergence of the extensive variety of music.

TS Ajith Kumar

                      Kottayam TS Ajith Kumar performing in a show

As being one of a unique type of music and the most soothing one as well, Jalatarangam should be highlighted and promoted so that it can take a comeback from its obscurity and can once again leave its audience with ecstasy. As of how appealing is the idea of water waves with proper techniques when laid together releases sound that is so alluring!

 


Research, Conceptualization & Written by Kaavya Lakshman

Kerala, God’s own country is a marvel in itself. One such art form that leaves an indelible impression on the minds is ‘Koodiyattam’ (Kuttiyatam) an art form of Kerala. Koodiyattam is a Sanskrit theatre tradition of Kerala. It is more than two hundred years old and is a precursor of the enchanting dance form of Kerala, Kathakali.

 Koodiyattam is an intangible oral art form accompanied by tangible musical instruments, elaborate costumes, dramatic make-up, and jewelry. These tangible aspects of this oral tradition bring out the myriad moods that transport the connoisseurs of art to a world of pure delight.

Koodiyattam is traditionally performed in the temple theatres of Kerala known as Koothambalams. The Koodiyattam artists perform acts from great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. They also perform plays written by great Sanskrit dramatists like Kalidasa and Bhasa. This Kerala dance form is so elaborate and intricate that to even enact a few verses from a play can take hours and the entire performance can last for days.

Hence, this art form of festivals, paintings, percussion instruments, and music leaves an everlasting spell on every art aficionado. Also, it has been recognized by UNESCO as the ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

Koodiyattam Performance

Koodiyattam means performing together. The actors perform in unison with the musicians. They play various instruments like Mizhavu, Edakka (Idakka), Thimila, Kuzhithalam, Kurumkuzhal and Sankhu. The actors meticulously make use of eyes, facial expressions, and mudras (hand gestures). These expressions are accompanied with ragas and vedic chants. They recreate a pristine ambience that takes one to a different realm of creativity and mysticism. 

The Chakyars (a caste among the Hindus) play the role of the male characters. The Nangyars (women from the Nambiar community) play the role of the female characters. The entire Sanskrit drama act is explained by the vidushaka (jester) in Malayalam language. The vidhushaka makes the entire act lively and humorous.

The various musical instruments that add to the rhythmic beauty of this art form are:

Mizhavu
Mizhavu is the most prominent percussion instrument used in Koodiyattam. This instrument is considered deva vadyam (divine instrument or instrument of gods). It resembles a pot shaped drum and is made of either copper or clay. Its narrow mouth is covered with a parchment. This instrument is played with hands.

Edakka
Edakka (Idakka) is also a deva vadyam and is a drum. It is shaped like an hour glass. It is part of the Panchavadyam (literally five instruments), which is an instrumental music art form of Kerala. Idakka is played with the help of a thin stick. This thin stick is made out of tamarind wood. This instrument is considered sacred and is never kept on the ground.

Timila
Timila is an important percussion instrument and resembles an elongated hour glass. The body of Timila is made out of the wood of the jackfruit tree. The structure of this instrument resembles a fish (Timi). This instrument is mentioned in Silappadikaram, a great classic in Tamil literature.

Madhalam
Madhalam is another percussion instrument widely used in temple rituals of Kerala. Its original name is ‘Mardala’ and it has been mentioned in the great epic, Mahabharata. It is made out of the wood of jackfruit tree. This instrument is tied around the waist and played with hands. It is an important part of Panchavadyam and is also used while performing Kathakali.

Kurumkuzhal
Kurumkuzhal is a wind instrument. It resembles Shehnai and is also referred as ‘mukha veena’. This wind instrument provides a melodious stroke to the ritualistic temple art form.

Kuzhithalam and Sankhu
Kuzhithalam is the miniature form of a cymbal with a deep inward hollow. It is usually played by a Nangiar woman who is called Nagyaramma (a woman from the Nambiar community of Kerala). Kuzhithalam provides rhythm to the entire ritualistic discourse. Sankhu (Conch shell) is a wind instrument, Sushira Vadya is an indispensable part of almost all temple rituals in India.

Koodiyattam Costumes and Make-Up
Koodiyattam is known for its elaborate headdresses, intricate costumes, and make-up. These costumes mostly feature bright colors like red, white, and black. The vidushaka or jester is dressed differently. He is provided a small head gear and special make-up so that he stands out among the rest of the artists. Various patterns and color schemes used by Chuttikkaran (make-up artist) symbolize varied moods, emotions and gunas (attributes) of the character. For instance, green color symbolises sattivika nature. The red color symbolizes majestic nature (emotions like ambition and violence) and black represents tamasic nature. The colors painted on the faces of artists are made up of locally available materials like vegetables dyes, powdered rice, turmeric, saffron, leaves of Acacia, and gingelly oil.


Content Research, Conceptualization & Written by Kaavya Lakshman

History

The word Padayani originated from the word ‘Pada’, which means ‘army’ or ‘warrior’.

This is the traditional folk dance of Kerala which is a beautiful amalgamation of music, dance, theatre, satire, facial masks and paintings. It is a Dravidian form of worship that existed before the advent of Brahmanism. The ancient ritual is performed in Bhagavati temples, dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali. The performance takes place from mid December to mid May.

Temples : The Padayani festival takes place in central Travancore, comprising the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.

Temples which still practice Padayani are Thazhoor Bhagavathy Temple and Kadammanitta Temple.

The Padayani festival at the Palli Bhagavati temple at Neelemperoor in Kottayam district is a spectacular event. Large swan effigies called ‘Annam Kettu’ are taken out, adding more charm to the festival. Fireworks and traditional orchestra are other features of the festival.

Image Source:http://nazariya.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/56751591411b0-3e34cfd690d64113b71746eb9e87d810-860×350-1.jpg

Story / Legend

“According to mythology, this ritualistic dance commemorates the dance performed by Lord Shiva and the other Gods to appease Goddess Durga, whose anger could not be quenched even after annihilating the demon, Darika” (cited from http://www.keralaculture.org/patayani/80)

Origin of Padayani

Earlier this elaborate and expensive event was carried out to heal the illnesses not amenable to medical modalities of intervention. In the form of psychic or spiritual healing, it was solely designed, controlled and performed by a section of the Thinta endogenous group of Kaniyar community (The traditional professional Hindu astrologers of Kerala), as a method of exorcism This folk art has become a divine ritual tradition in association with festival occasions of Bhagavathy (Bhadrakaali) temples of Kerala(cited from http://www.liquisearch.com/padayani/traditions_of_origin)

 

Padayani- The Ritual

In the olden days the Padayani performance lasted for nearly two weeks, but over time it has been shortened to a day. Kolam Tullal is the major portion of the performance. Kolam is the masque prepared by drawing images on the leaves. The Kolams are made of the green of the lath itself (kamukin pacha), kari (carbon), manjalpodi and sindooram. The dancer wears the kolam, and performs the ritual dance expressing his devotion.

The significance of the kolam is the representation of spiritual forces and divine characters. The face masks and headgear of the characters depicted are both spectacular and terrifying, a typical element of Kerala art. The paints used are natural and of vivid colors.

The characters include : Ganapathi Kolam, Yakshi Kolam, Bhairavi Kolam, Gandharvan Kolam, and Mukilan Kolam.

Kolam thullal takes place on the same day as the Kappoli. The main instruments used during the performance are the thappu, chenda and kaimani. Padayani songs are quite simple to understand for those who speak Malayalam, thereby engaging the entire community.

The members participating in the ritual performance undergo rigorous, traditional physical training and discipline. This consists of a special diet regimen for physical and spiritual cleansing.

Popular elements of the dance :

Kalan Kolam : It is the most popular part of the Padayani ritual. This dance form narrates the of a boy begging for his life to Lord Siva when ‘Death’ comes to his sixteenth birthday.

Bhairavi Kolam : It is the dance dedicated to the worship of the goddess Bhairavi. The kolam (masque) used for this performance is the biggest, and is headed by more than one person due to its massive size and heavy weight.

Vinodam : Satire is an essential part of Padayani. This is performed to make fun of the petty vanities of people as well as target areas for social reform.

 

Significance of Padayani in the society : Padayani is not just an art form, it is a community gathering to ensure the physical and mental well being of the entire village. It is a set of rituals that transcends the boundaries of caste and religion, generating a sense of unity.

Image Source: Pathan Amrita News

 


Content Research by Shivanki

The historical blend of both modern and ancient is creative best is best identified with Togalu Gombeyaata, a puppet show unique to the state of Karnataka, India. ‘ Togalu Gombeyaata’ in kannada translates to ‘a play of leather dolls’ is a beautiful puppetry art in India. The art form uses shadow puppet to convey the story ideas.

This leather art form has an interesting blend of shadow puppetry techniques and music which makes it livable in theatres. The leather puppets used in Togalu Gombeyaata are goat hide and deer skin.

These leather puppets on a string are unique and have a characteristic of transparency that absorbs colours , such as vegetable dyes of red, blue, green and black adding life to this art of storytelling. For puppets representing human and animal figures, the head and limbs are joined in such a way that they can be moved easily.The maximum size of the puppet is 4 x 3 feet and the minimum is 6 x 3 inches.

The puppeteers or the puppet master of the small leather puppet theatre performers use Kannada language and in a box stage manipulator sits behind the screen, raise the puppets held in their hands. During the performance men, women, children, the whole community of the artiste, take part. The puppet shows in this particular art form traces it’s origin to Rashtrakutas, Pallavas, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Kothapur kingdoms in south.

In Karnataka there are two major varieties in the leather puppet shows, depending on the size of the puppets. The two types of puppets are as follows:

Chikka Togalu Gombeyaata

The small puppets players have their own mobile stage measures 9 feet and 5 feet.

Leather puppets demonstrating the war between the PandavaArjuna and his son Babruvahana                              

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leather_puppets_of_Karnataka.jpg

Dodda Togalu Gombeyaata

The average dimensions of the leather puppet stage 12 feet in length, 6 feet in width.

An Elephant Puppet

Image Source: http://seltmann.manasvi.eu/images/25300_201007140356b.jpg

A Boar Puppet

Image Source: http://seltmann.manasvi.eu/images/25300_201007140379.jpg

Each variety shows several regional variations in the style of music, craftsmanship, stage technique and manipulation.

The visible portion in front where a white screen tied up. Behind the screen the manipulator sits and manipulates the epic characters from behind the screen. Behind the curtain the hands of the manipulators remain unseen. On front of the stage the puppeteers’ family or associate sits and give chorus and exchange dialogue with drum beater. In the projected light sources the leather puppets shadow appears with beautiful colour.

 

Related image

A still from Ramayana in Togalu Gombeyaata

Image Source: http://indulge.newindianexpress.com/shadow-play-3/section/51889

Even as television, radio and movies remain our first choice to entertainment , this sheer execution of creativity and hard work by puppeteers fulfils one’s connect roots in easiest way possible.

Here is a sample video of spectacular art form :

Shadow puppet video clips from YouTube: 

Togalu Gombeyaata Part 1

Togalu Gombeyaata Part 2

Now that this ancient art form is no longer restricted to Dravidian states alone, do find time to catch hold of amazing performances in the nearest festival near you. Follow Nazariya to know about the upcoming performances.


Author: Noah Unathraj

Image Source: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/02510/14TH_KINNERA_2510681e.jpg

Today I would like to present you an art which has lost its prominence 4 centuries ago. Let us discover the Chenchu Music or Kinnera music instrument to know more facts. Though it has not totally perished down, it is almost on the verge of extinction. Darshanam Mogilaiah one of the very few survivors of this extricated traditional instrument brought life to this dying tradition.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”, said the famous French artist Edgar Degas. Yes indeed, in my perspective art is something more imaginative, profound, and absorbing to the human soul. It frees out mind and body from the busy mauhaul of everyday life. Thus, helps to look up to something which is delightful and engrossing.

India is a country with “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” concept of unity in diversity. Hence it is engulfed with many art forms and is become the hunting ground for souls of people engrossed in art.   

India has a renowned artist and the only one in the country playing the 12-step Chenchu music. He hails from Ayusaolni kunta village of the Mahabubnagar district in Telangana state. He belongs to a low esteem family. His forefathers have dedicated their lives in an urge to empower and boost up the spirits of the people to take part in freedom struggle. Hence, they promoted the freedom struggle by playing the instrument and singing patriot songs in synch.

 

Darshanam Mogilaiah

Image Source: http://cdn.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/Moghulayya_0.jpg

The “Dakkali” tribe put in their flesh and soul for design and working of the Kinerra music instrument. They actively participated in the freedom movement. The “Dakkali” tribe is a Chenchu race breed brought up through odds and slavery of the landlords and the upper caste people. Hence, in order to revolt against this culture of slavery they invented the device to unite the people of all the lower caste. They struggled for their freedom and fought their way out.

Kinnera is a stringed instrument like a Desi Veena. It has 12 steps which is able to produce 12 different tunes with the 2 strings that are mounted on them. This tribal instrument is built in the following form:Kinnera is a stringed instrument like a Desi Veena. It has 12 steps which is able to produce 12 different tunes with the 2 strings that are mounted on them. This tribal instrument is built in the following form:

⦁  Bamboo for the neck

⦁  Dried and hollowed gourds for resonators

⦁  Human hair or animal nerves for strings

⦁  Pangolin scales for frets which are fixed using honey-wax

According to Adivasi studies, the Chenchus have lost the musical instrument half-century ago when the gourd used for resonator became extinct in this region. Chenchu music came into limelight while researching about Panduga Sayanna a Telangana fighter. The dakkali singers sang in his praise using Kinnera music instrument.  It has almost taken 3 years to trail out and explore this history through the help of Dakkali Pochaiah.   


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

God’s own country Kerala is home to a variety of dance forms that have been developed, practised and polished over due course of time. Out of the many captivating ones practised, a lesser known one is the temple dance form is Thidambu Nrithyam.

Over 700 years, this dance form is believed to have its root in the culture and traditions of North Malabar. One of the most popular of all myths on the origin of this dance form centres around Akoora, a devotee of Lord Krishna, who was in search of the Lord’s footsteps!

It is a tough task to master this unconventional form of dancing. One such maestro is Brahmashree Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri.  BPG Namboothiri “Guruji” is a distinguished Thidambu Nrithyam artist at Kerala Temples. His unique style of performance makes even the laymen praise this attractive dance form across the length and breadth of country including cities like Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Kochi, Thrissur and Calicut.

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

The performance of the marvellous dance form involves the artist to carry the Thidambu or the decorated idol of the deity on his head. It is a conventional practise for the artist to be a male member of a Brahmin family. The replicas are made up of bamboo and are adorned with gold and flowers weighing an astonishing 10 kgs. While performing, the dancers wear a skirt of pleated cloth, silk vest, earrings, bangles, necklaces and delightfully decorated turbans known as Ushnipeetam. Restricted use of facial expressions and emotions makes this dance form a peculiar one. Drumbeats correspond to particular footsteps of the dancer. It is one of the oldest dance forms which has, like other dance forms, allowed for accommodation of newer trends in style and performance. However, the basic steps and the unyielding devotion has withstood the test of time!

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com