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Puppet Dance (Putola Naach) an Assamese Folklore

16 Dec,2022 05:28 PM, by: Anushthatri Sharma
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India is the birthplace of various folk cultures and traditions that have been passed down from ancient times to the present day. Although early humans were illiterate, the knowledge they gathered from their experiences was preserved in their memory and passed on to society through verbal and physical behavior. These kinds of preserved and advertised subjects are folk culture, which is the collection of traditional dances, dramas, songs, etc. These traditions have been continued from one generation to another and have reached their present stage.

Among these traditional folk cultures, puppet dance is the oldest folk theater in India. Puppet dance in India is first mentioned in the epic Mahabharata in the ninth century BC. Panini, the Sanskrit grammarian of the fourth century BC, and Patanjali, the author of the Yugasutra, mentioned puppets in their works. Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet of the second century BC, also wrote that- 'the movements of an insensitive person are like the life of a puppet moved by a thread'

There is no reliable way to know how ancient puppet dance or putola naach has been in Assam. However, the mention of puppets in the Adi Dasha of Mahapurusha Sankaradeva suggests that this ritual date back to before the Sankari era. The traditional yarn dolls in Assam are made with the help of ‘kuhila’. The doll is wrapped in sticky clay, dung, cloth, etc., and dressed in clothes and ornaments according to the character of the doll. Bows, arrows, mustaches, etc. are also made as needed. A person behind the background cloth ties black thread around the hands, feet, waist, and head of the dolls and controls the dolls from the inside.

Puppet dance usually takes the stories of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas as their narratives or storylines. In addition to these, various social, economic, and other topics are also being covered for social awareness.

Over the past fifty years, puppet dance in India has been reshaped through the application of new techniques. There have been some changes in the dance. This change is a good sign to keep the puppet dance art alive in Assam. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to ensure that puppet dance is not only a means of entertainment but also a means of education and livelihood.

Puppet dance is studied in theory in the Departments of Anthropology, Departments of Folk Culture Research, Departments of Assamese, Departments of Mass Communication and Journalism in various universities of Assam. There is a need for the youth to apply new ideas and techniques to revive this folk art of Assam.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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