Ritualistic Make-up – Kathakali Dance, Kerala

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Ritualistic Make-up – Kathakali Dance, Kerala

Kathakali dance, another jewel of Kerala

Kathakali (Malayalam: കഥകളി) is a  classical Indian dance-drama, that is standing out through the attractive make-up of the characters, the elaborate costumes and well defined gestures and face expressions.

It is original from Kerala, the South part of India, in the 17′ th century, and as many other performances, it has a religious and ritualistic nature.

The dance is not very elaborate, but the movements, gestures and face expressions are the ones that are transmitting the energy and the story.


You can witness this performance in Kochi Fort but also in many other places around Kerala. But what I recommend, is to arrive one hour earlier, in order to assist to the beautiful transformation of the performers into the characters, that are usually two: a demon and a hero.

And for a photographer, this is an amazing opportunity to shoot colours and portraits in the same time.

The make-up process always begins with an invocation, a prayer and a moment of silence.


After that the art begins, and what is fascinating is the presence and the honour with which the performers are doing this act of transformation.










But I saw a bigger transformation in the other character’s attitude, the demon. As soon as he started applying the dark colour around his eyes, his energy changed visibly.









And the make-up is ready . . .



And now the dress-up . . . A more exhausting process that involved almost 5 people.








And the final look:



So if you are in Kerala, this will be a very nice and colourful experience.

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