If you are in Rajasthan, one thing attract everyone attention is puppets. This craft is 1000 year’s old. There is no written evidence. There is that community that practices this art known as kathputli. This craft has derived its name from kath – means wood and putli -doll. This craft people claim that ancestors have performed for honor and prestige from rulers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
Rajasthani puppets and distinctness of Rajasthani puppets are well known. They are popular souvenirs for foreigners and tourists. Craft is used to make portraits of famous rulers like shivaji maharaj, Mahayana pratap. Door hanging resemble animals like came, elephant , togs like kacchi ghodi. The wall hanging are made using craft. The puppet are used to narrate awareness about society evils like polio, AIDS, child marriages etc.
The history of kathputli is derived from two Sanskrit word puttika. Puppeteers keep puppets into their bedrooms. When puppet is tattered or can not be used anymore, they are not being thrown away or neglected.
Artisans who are involved in puppets making belong to nomadic community known as pupli bhatt. These community are performing artists who are used to travel from village to village with their portable theatres. These communities used to entertain gatherings.
They use to tackle problems like dowry system women empowerment, poverty, cleanliness and unemployment. They take the help of puppets and try to show the problems society is facing through use of puppets. These puppets are medium of spreading effective information on health, education and human rights. The narration and music becomes an intricate part of puppet show. Peppers illustrate text by their action. Actor gives the voice to puppet and it has it’s own style of language, delivering dialogue and mannerism.
Puppets have their unique specialty. They are approximately 30 cm in height and are being carved out of single piece of wood. The headgear is also carved at the same time. These puppets have stylised and elongated eyes. Their faces are usually painted yellow except the one to denote foreigners which are painted white. Puppets have free movement as the ha a no legs. The garments are being designed to resemble the medieval attire worn in Rajasthan.
Some of the characteristics –
Bodies and limbs are made of mango wood.
Sight jerk to be seen in puppets to produce movements on hands, neck and shoulder.
Puppets hang on one rope –one string tied to head and other to waist.
Puppets move towards each other with speed and swords in their hands in fighting postures.
Greetings and salutations done by bending the puppets and leaving their arms to hang loosely.
This craft used by be commissioned by King’s and nobleman.
Demand for this draft is repeatedly decreasing.
Due to pressure of falling demand, poor income and growing families, this has led to craftsmen taking up alternate professions which provide good source of income.