Puppet manupulation and puppet making
Tholpavakoothu puppets are made of deerskin. The figures are drawn on the skin, cut out and embellished with dots lines and holes, When the skin is completely dehumidified all the hair on its removed by scraping the surface with a sharp –edged piece of bamboo. Then the puppet figure I drawn clearly on it and cut out with a fine chisel. The eyes, noses, and lips, are also drawn on the puppet and cut out.oranaments and dress are drawn by drilling different kinds of holes in the skin for which special pointed chisels are used.
Puppets are painted with different colours, the original method of making natural colours was by boiling the wooden pieces of different woods, the result was good, strong, and lasting , these become very attractive when shades of other colours merge in them,
Deer skin is used to make the puppets as it is considered as sacred and divine while making the puppets the hair of the skin is removed and the outline of the puppets is drawn over it. Then it will be cut carefully to size for setting proper facial expression with decorations to the puppets the different types of chisels are used this being dedicate job. It should be done with utmost care. Then flexible hands made of deer skins are attached to the puppet. A bamboo stick is fixed vertically along the puppet and lay holding this stick, movement of the play will be controlled according to the circumstances. There must be above 150 puppets made in different posture standing, fighting, sitting and lying etc to conduct this play based on “Kamba Ramayana”.
To become a puppet show man one has to study for 15 years under a scholar. Natural colours are using for colouring the puppets.
The puppets have to make gestures and movements in conformity with the narration or dialogue. The Tolpavakoothu puppeteers manipulate their puppets in this way:
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