In Rajasthan, Puppetry is popularly referred as Kathaputli. The word ‘Kathaputli’ is derived from two words ‘Katha’ meaning wood and ‘Putli’ meaning puppet. Puppets are entertaining as well as home decoration in traditional setting. A ‘Kathaputli’ is controlled by a single string which is attached to the top of the puppet and reaches above to the fingers of the puppeteer.
A puppet is made from wood, metal wire, and a cotton cloth. It is believed that the tradition of Kathaputli is thousands of years old. Its reference can be found in many Rajasthani folk songs and ballads. Puppetry has become a significant part of the culture of Rajasthan and plays a pivotal role in maintaining the ancient Rajasthani tradition. No public function in Rajasthan is complete without puppetry.
Vikramaditya and legendary throne of 32 puppets
Legend says that King Vikramaditya of Ujjain was very much fond of puppets. King Vikramaditya’s Throne was carved with 32 wonderful dolls. It is believed that the first puppet play was performed for King Vikramaditya which praised his works and accomplishments. The heirs of the person who organized the puppet show for King Vikramaditya used to perform puppet shows for royal families. After a very long time, Prithviraj Chauhan was astonished by this art form that he asked the Bhats to perform for his accomplishments. Moreover the Bhats performed a play which praised the works of Amar Singh Rathod of Nagaur. Since then the people of Rajasthan have never lost the love for puppetry and due to it, the art survived through the time.
Folk tales formed base for Kathaputli performances. Some Rajasthani scholars have a firm belief that folktales spread information about the lifestyle of Rajasthani tribes.
Origin of Puppetry
It is believed that the art had originated from the region, which is presently known as Nagaur. It is well known that Rajasthani kings and courtmen were fond of art and craft and had developed these fields with great care. In the last 500 years, puppetry was established as the system of admiration, and it was supported by kings and other royal families. The Kings and royal families would take care of the artists and their families as a favor for the songs sung by artists which were about praising the king’s ancestor.
Rajasthani puppets are unique
Rajasthani puppets are not so similar to other puppets across the world. The style of Rajasthani puppets has interested the people across the world. The Rajasthani puppets are handmade using wood and fabric. The faces of these puppets are painted according to the role they act in the play. In general the puppets are painted yellow, and their hands are adjusted in several positions according to the role it plays. Then they are dressed with fine and nicely designed Rajasthani outfits. Different colors are used to represent the characters. Brave men’s faces are painted red and honest poor men’s faces are painted black. Also, we can see that male puppets wear turbans according to the Rajasthani tradition and women wear skirts and other accessories which again symbolizes the Rajasthani tradition. The dancing female puppets holding the edges of their skirts dances to traditional Rajasthani songs are indeed very interesting.
A puppet show is not a single man event, it requires teamwork. The anchor is required to entertain the crowd; the storyteller tells the story to the crowd, and there are several other people required to perform the whole act. There are many organizations which organize special puppet shows for their guests.
Rajasthani puppetry artists are praised all over the world. Puppetry is the traditional art of India that truly presents the culture of the country in best way.

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