Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Ottanthullal Artform of Kerala


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ottanthullal

Mains level: NA


A renowned folk artist has expressed his angst over the fading participation of students in Ottanthullal Artform.

What is Ottanthullal?

  • Ottanthullal (or Thullal, in short) is recite-and-dance art-form of Kerala.
  • It was introduced in the 18th century by the famous Malayalam poet Kunchan Nambiar (1705 – 1770).
  • It is famous for its humour and social satire, and marked by its simplicity as opposed to more complex dance-forms like Kathakali and Koodiyattam.

Unique features

  • Ottanthullal follows the classical principles of Natyasasthra (a treatise on art compiled in the 2nd century B.C.E).
  • It is enacted into three separate versions
  1. Ottanthullal
  2. Seethankan thullal
  3. Parayan thullal
  • The Ottanthullal is the most popular among the three varieties of Thullal.

How is it performed?

  • The performance uses elaborate expressions and stories recited in verses to bring important mythological tales and stories to life.
  • The costume and makeup of the performer are similar to that of a Kathakali artist.
  • It is performed at temple festivals and cultural programmes.
  • The performer is supported by a singer who repeats the verses and is accompanied by an orchestra of mridangam or thoppimaddalam (percussions) and cymbals.


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