The Thuḷḷal


which can be translated to "dancing with a firm step", is a popular way of telling stories and originates from the southern Indian state of Kerala.

Thuḷḷal is a solo performance which combines the singing of verses from a story with a series of simple dance steps, distinctive facial expressions and hand gestures. It is usually performed at traditional temple festivals or for cultural associations and the actor (the Thuḷḷalkāran) will always recite the verses first. His accompanying singer, who also provides the permanent rhythm with a set of small cymbals, then repeats these verses. A drummer completes the set and supports the actor's staging with a Mṛdangam barrel drum.

The themes of the texts which are written in Malayāḷam, Kerala's local language, come from Indian mythology. The 18th-century poet Kunchan Nambiar added humour, satire, social criticism and philosophical thoughts to his retelling of the stories.

Differences in rhythm, costume and makeup set the three styles of Ōṭṭan Thuḷḷal, Śῑtankan Thuḷḷal and the only rarely performed Parayan Thuḷḷal apart. Performances by the actors and actresses are usually between one and one and a half hours long and remain to this day very popular with Keralese audiences.

More on the origins and historical backgrounds can be found here.


Hartmut Schmidt

Harianu Harshita

Tel. +49 761-623 47
E-mail: info@thullal.com

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