String Puppet

Art & Culture


There is evidence to believe that there were more than 30 string puppet troupes in the Dakshina Kannada district (Karnataka, India) during the period 1910 – 1915 in places like Basrur, Barkur, Kokkarne, Mudabidri etc.

The decline of the families pursuing this theatrical form cannot be attributed to acute poverty or to the decline in the people’s interest in the entertainment. At any rate the number of families engaged in the performance of the puppet plays sharply declined. It is a matter of good fortune that the puppet play troupe of Uppinakudru, Kundapura Taluk, Dakshina Kannada District, maintained its individuality inspite of the vagaries of fortune and got the destination of being honored with a national Award.

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 forembracing secular themes, but the older tradition still persists.

Devanna Padmanabha Kamath, the grand son of Laxman Kamath, persuade this profession with missionary zeal and with the able assistance and patronage of Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Sri Srinivasa Mallya, Sri K. Sanjeeva Prabhu, Sri K. S. Upadhyaya, Sri Devanna Kamath got National recognition by winning National Award in 1966. Sri Devanna Kamath breathed his last in 1971 at ripe age of 80 years, his son Guru Sri Kogga Kamath took over and trained many youngsters in this art. Late Kogga Kamath together with his son Bhaskar Kamath has participated in many international puppet festivals in France, Geneva, Belgium, Holland, Australia, Greece, Athens, Pakisthan and India. Bhaskar Kamath, (son of Kogga Kamath) Present Master Puppeteer.

Contact Person
Bhaskar Kogga Kamath
Shri Ganesha Yakshagana Gombeyata Mandali,
“PUPPET HOUSE”, Uppinakudru – 576 230
Kundapura, Udupi District, Karnataka, INDIA
Tel. Fax: +91 824 238402    Mobile: +91 0 94484 37848


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