Evidence shows that there were more than 30 string puppet troupes in the undivided Dakshina Kannada district during the period 1910–1915 in places like Basrur, Barkur, Kokkarne, Mudabidri etc.
The presentation of the puppetry in Yakshagana style is highly stylized and adheres strictly to the norms and standards of Yakshagana. The puppets used are generally 18 inches high and the costumes are similar to those worn by the characters from Yakshagana with the same elaborate make-up, colorful headgear and heavy jewellery. The person who infuses life into the puppet and makes it come alive, by dexterous manipulation is known as the Suthradhara. The content in the Yakshagana puppetry, is drawn heavily from the ancient epics.
Though Yakshagana puppetry had existed since a long time, it was moulded by Laxman, Narasimha and Manjappa Kamath, hailing from Uppinakudru village in Kundapur taluk. Devanna Padmanabha Kamath, the grandson of Laxman Kamath infused new life into it and performed shows all over India. Currently, his son Kogga Kamath is at the forefront, performing shows and training youngsters in Yakshagana puppetry.
Yakshagana String Puppets
The string puppet play of Karnataka (Yakshagana style of coastal area) is interesting, both on account of its technique and content – the presentation is highly stylized since it has to adhere strictly to the norms and standards of Yakshagana Bayalata, one of the most remarkable among the numerous arts of Karnataka. All the ritualistic rigor of the Yakshagana ‘Human Theatre’ has to be observed in its original form and adept manipulators of the puppets seem cabable of making the yakshagana puppets leap to life. At times it is difficult to tell whether what one is witnessing is a mere show of wooden puppets, inert and lifeless, or a serious performance by well-trained men and women, pouring forth in dance, song and dialogue the whole range of human emotions and passions.
These wooden puppets are about 18 inches high. Their costumes are exactly like those worn by the charaters from yakshagana bayalata, with the same elaborate make-up, high and colourful Head gear and Heavy jewellery.
The person who infuses life into the puppet and makes it come alive, by dextrous manipulation, is the puppet master, known as the ‘Suthradhara’. The content in the Yakshagana puppetry, as in every other ancient performing art, is drawn from the epics and the Bhagavatha Purana. There may have been possibilities for embracing secular themes, but the older tradition still persists.
More info. visit yakshaganapuppet.com