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Tuesday, April 23 2024
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Yakshagana and its unique face painting, elaborate costumes

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One of the performance arts from Coastal Karnataka is called Yakshagana. Face painting is one of the many distinctive elements of this art style. It is unique in the entire world. The colours used for face painting are historically made by organically obtained materials like the majority of traditional art/dance traditions. It requires a unique skill set because the usage has highly distinct significance and creativity.

Colours impress us, stun us and make us happy. They possess an emotive quality. Additionally, it has semiotic power. This is used in all visual arts. Yakshagana uses song, dance, and speech to interpret the epic stories . But in this reinterpretation, clothing and face painting are crucial elements.

Yakshagana has an unique makeup that is connected to the ornament of the sculptures. All of the male royal figures, including the hero, the king, the ministers, and the prince, wear beautiful “Mukuta” (crowns), and they all hold bows and arrows. Wild figures like “Dhiroddhatas” often wear head dresses that resemble arches. The female attire for “Chandi,” “Kali,” and similar roles has drawn-out blood-red prosthetic tongues, lion’s teeth, and long hair in the back.

To dance, each performer dons pants or pyjamas, which are covered by a “saree” tied in the shape of a “Kaccha” and embellished. King and prince faces are painted bright pink, Yama’s face is painted black, Vishnu and Lord Krishna both have blue hues. The applied face colour is created from vegetable dye. The artists’ unique costumes and make-up are what give Yakshagana its magnificence. The elegant movement of the bulky, beautiful clothing confirms to the exciting nature of this audiovisual style.

 

Depending on the tasks they play, the facial make-up might range from simple to sophisticated patterns. Hero, demon, and female figures all have different facial patterns. Artificial eyelids and white spots are heavily used in demonical makeup to depict the aggressive and terrible nature of the demons. A dhoti, a pyjama, a jacket, and a wavy dress make up the traditional attire. Depending on the character, they add sarees and colourful textile sheets to their bodies to enlarge them. It is typical for men to play even the part of women in Yakshagana.
The lines and curves in the face painting have precise dimensions and purposes. In addition to highlighting the performer’s physical characteristics, it also gives them a wider look and elevates them to the rank of divinities. The actor is free to interpret the character however they see right because the face painting integrates the character’s characteristics.

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Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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