Nangiarkoothu – Over 2 centuries of storytelling

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The beginning of a Nangiarkoothu Performance

For those of you who believe that Kathakali is one of India’s oldest forms of classical drama, this might surprise you.

nangiakoothu2A scene from the Nangiarkoothu performance

Nangiarkoothu, is an art form that is presented exclusively by women. Known for its elaborate depiction of ancient epics along with t he Sanskrit recitation of the story, Nangiarkoothu was once performed by the women of Kerala’s Nambiar community. These performers were also called Ambalavassikal (the people who reside in the temple’s premises).

nangiakoothu3The performer and the accompanying artist (from the left to right) – musicians playing the edakka (the drum around the shoulder), mizhaavu

It is characterised by a few traditional percussion instruments that accompany the main artist, namely the mizhavu (a giant pot with a unique covering made of calf’s skin, the edakka, and the natuvangam (tiny cymbals).

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A scene from the Nangiarkoothu performance

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