Indian Puppets

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Abhinav Publications, Jan 1, 2006 - Puppet making - 494 pages
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Puppetry Originated In India And Travelled Across The Seven Seas To The Eastern And Western World As Vouched By Many Scholars. Puppets Dated Back To A Period Well Before Bharata S Natya Shastra And Have Continued Unabated Throughout The Centuries In Almost All Indian States. Puppetry Is One Enduring Form, Which Has Entertained Masses And Educated People. The Famous Puppeteers Of Rajasthan Are Really Acrobats, Who Only Put On Puppet Shows When They Move Out Of Villages. These And A Thousand Other Scintillating Facts Come Out Of This Exciting Book For The Reader S Entertainment And Elucidation. Puppets Are By No Means For Only Children, -- As The Puppeteers Of Orissa Sing And Dance About The Romantic Love Of Radha And Krishna, And Keralan Puppets Narrate Kathakali Stories In The Same Make-Up And Costumes.The Book Aims At Giving A Connected Account Of The Indian Puppets: Their Variety, Their Multiple Functions, Their Craft, Their Animation And Their Connections With Other Related Arts In Five Separate Parts. The Book Also Contains For The First Time In Any Book On Puppetry -- Four Important Appendices: Museums In India Containing Puppets, Directory Of Indian Puppeteers, Global Bibliography On Puppets And A Relevant Glossary. The World Of Indian Puppets Is Seen In Vivid Colours With Scores Of Coloured Photographs And Many Line-Drawings And Half-Tone Pictures --- In Their Many-Sided Splendour: Variety Of The Glove, Rod, String, Shadow, And Human Puppets And A Myriad Background Stories Of The Puppet-Masters And Their Imaginative Landscape Of Free Creativity.

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It is a pleasure to go through the book on Indian Puppetry by Sampa Ghosh alias Sampa Didi and Utapal K. Banerjee. Let me congratulate for the book on Indian Puppets before giving my review about the book. This is an extensive book by Sampa didi than to her earlier books which I have read too.
I read the book Chapter wise and also got to see many more pictures of traditional puppetry along with traditional puppeteers across India.
However, I was not very happy with the information given in the first chapter 1 History and Genesis of Puppets Page no 13-22. Though it gives good references from of existence of Puppetry in India even during Mahabharata Period and references from Mohenjodaro present Pakistan but fails to give information about the legendary stories of birth of Puppetry in India.
Except in the conclusion few lines summons up about Shiva and Parvati. It is overall believed by the traditional Puppeteers in India that. Lord Shiva and her consort Parvati as the chief 'Sutradhars' from whom this art form has originated. According to 'Bhats'-the traditional Puppeteers of Rajasthan who believe that Puppetry in India originated in Rajasthan. Some scholars and folklorist of the region have done studies in this area too. However, here again, one can come across three different legendary stories about the 'Origin of Puppets'. Some claim it as Shiva and some as as Brahma as the chief sutradhars.
There is one more version from Shiva Purana which has legendary story connected to the origin of shadow puppetry. So, there can be a debate as to which form of puppetry originated first-shadow or kathputli'?
Chapter -6 Page no 75-98 deals with String Puppetry of India. Here, the authors have failed to mention about Ammapuram traditional puppeteer group of former Andhra Pradesh and present Telangana. Also. about the Santhavellur Traditional puppeteers of Andhra Pradesh.
With regards to Karnataka state there more than eight forms of Puppets used. Some in combinations too. Near Tumkur or Kolar districts, in one of the village there are Traditional mechanized Puppets' also.
Further, one does not find the references to support the existence of the traditional Puppetry in India-for instance- Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Haryana. Similarly in the eastern India -Sikkim, Mizoram and so on. If at all there are references of existence of Puppetry art in these states, it has to be mentioned or on the other hand the reasons for not having or so should be mentioned.
This being an extensive book which could have included the popular puppet scripts region wise- if not the whole scripts. This would have been a best way to document the scripts as it is narrated. As the stories of from Ramayana and Mahabharata are narrated differently in differently in different languages and puppet forms.
There could have been an additional chapters highlighting the regions where Puppetry or traditional puppeteers have given up the art form in total. For instance, in Telangana there were traditional puppeteers who practiced Shadow Puppets. Hardly there is any reference about it mentioned. So, in Nalagonda district of Telangana. So, would be the case of traditional puppeteers from other states too.
Again, there could have been an appendix inclusive of traditional puppeteers contact, address and email ids.This would be of great help for the scholars, researchers and of course Puppet lovers too.
Anyway, on the whole a good attempt made by the authors
Regards
Padmini Rangarajan
Director of Sphoorthi Theatre for Educational Puppetry, Art and Craft-STEPARC, Hyderabad.
 

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