(Shadow puppetry from Andhra Pradesh)
By Chidambara Rao & Team
Tholu Bommalata is the shadow puppet theatre tradition of the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Tholu Bommalata literally means “the dance of leather puppets” (tholu – leather and bommalata – puppet dance). Tholu Bommalatta is a composite art containing all the elements of fine arts: music, sculpture, poetry and painting, both traditional and folk. During performance, a thin white cloth measuring 12 x 9 feet lit from the back with a bulb or oil lamp functions as a screen. Both sides of the puppet are painted to enhance projection of the figure.
The puppeteers make up some of the various entertainers who perform all night and usually reenact various stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata.