Culture of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Dances and Music
This beautiful folk dance is performed by girls dressed as peacocks,
decorated with peacock feathers and a glittering head-dress complete
with a beak. This beak can be opened and closed with the help of a
thread tied to it, and manipulated from within dress.
the puppet shows are held in almost every village of Tamil Nadu
during festivals and fairs and for that matter in every village of
India. The puppets used for these shows are made of cloth, wood,
leather, etc. They are controlled by strings or wires. The persons
stand behind a screen and the puppets are held in front. The stories
told in the puppet shows are from Ved-puranas, history and folklore.
These puppets shows are very amusing and interests both adults and
Kummi is among the most important
and famous ancient dance forms of village dances of Tamil Nadu. It
originated when there were no musical instrument. The participants
form a circle and clap their hands to match to the rhythm. This
dance form is performed by women. Kummi is of many varieties, such
as Poonthatti Kummi, Deepa Kummi, Kulavai Kummi, Kadir Kummi and
Karagam is a folk dance with musical accompaniment, performed balancing a pot on the head. Traditionally, this dance was performed by the villagers in praise of the rain goddess Mari Amman and river goddess, Gangai Amman, performed with literature with water pots balanced on their heads. In Sangam literature, it is mentioned as 'Kudakoothu'. This dance has two divisions - one, Aatta Karagam and the other 'Sakthi Karagam'. More often it is danced with decorated pots on the head and is known as 'Aatta Karagam' and symbolises joy and merriment. The former is performed only in temples, while the latter is mainly entertainment in nature. This is one of the more popular rural dances today. Earlier it was performed only with accompaniment of the Naiyandi Melam but now it includes songs also. Karagams were once performed for mulaipari ceremony when the dancer carried a pot of sprouted grains on his/her head and danced, balancing it through intricate steps and body/arm movements. Today, the pots have transformed from mud pots to bronzeware and even stainless steel in modern times. The pots are decorated with a cone of flower arragements, topped by a paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer swings along. This dance is very popular all over Tamilnadu, though its birth place is said to be Thanjavur. This dance is danced by an individual or two persons. Both male and female performers participate in this. Acrobatics similar to circus are included - such as dancing on a rolling block of wood, up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backwards and so on.
Kolaattam is an ancient village art. This is mentioned in Kanchipuram as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolattam', which proves its antiquity. This is performed by women only, with two sticks held in each hand, beaten to make a rhythmic noise. Pinnal Kolaattam is danced with ropes which the women hold in their hands, the other of which are tied to a tall pole. With planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like patterns in the ropes. As coloured ropes are used, this lace looks extremely attractive. Again, they unravel this lace reversing the dance steps. This is performed for ten days, starting with the Amavasi or Newmoon night after Deepavali.
This is an ancient folk dance form popular in Trichi, Salem, Dharmapuri, Coimbatore and Periyar Districts. No other musical instruments are used in this dance except the ankle-bells. This dance is performed by men only, during temple festivals. Stories and episodes centering around Murugan and Valli are depicted in the songs.
The ancient Tamils when they went on pilgrimage, carried the offerings to the gods tied on the either end of the long stick, which was balanced on the shoulders. In order to lessen the boredom of the long travel they used to sing and dance about the gods. Kavadi Aattam has its origin in this practice. Special songs were created to be sung while carrying the Kavadi Sindhu. This dance is performed only by men. It is done by balancing a pole with pots fixed on either end, filled with milk or cocunut water. The poles are made from Purasai or Teak wood. On top, bamboo strips are bent like a half-moon, covered with saffron cloth and further decorated on the sides with peacock feathers. This is mainly a religious dance, performed in worship of Lord Murugan, the second son of Siva. The dance is accompanied by Pambai and Naiyandi Melam.
Poikkal Kudirai Aattam
This is the Dummy Horse Dance where the dancer bears the dummy figure of a horse's body on his/her hips. This is made of light-weighted materials and the cloth at the sides swings to and fro covering the legs of the dancer. The dancer dons wooden legs which sound like the hooves of the horse. The dancer brandishes either a sword or a whip. This folk dance needs much training and skill. This dance is accompanied by Naiyandi Melam or Band music.
Kai Silambu Attam
This dance is performed in temples during Amman festivals or Navaratri festival. The dancers wear ankle-bells and hold anklets or silambu in their hands, which make noise when shaken. They perform various stepping styles jumps. The dance is in praise of all female deities, the most preferred being the powerful angry goddess - Kali or Durga.
Normally conducted during village festivals, during the months of Panguni and Aadi. This is performed at street intersections in open air, the place being lit by gas lights. A wooden bench is set up to seat the singers and the musical troupe. Here, make-up and costumes are considered of prime importance. Only men take part; the female roles also played by them. The performance consists of stoy-telling, dialogue-rendering, songs and dance, all performed by the artistes. Thus the artists should have a very good performing ability, being an all-rounder. The stories are taken from Puranas, epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, and also local folklore. The play starts in the late evening and gets over only during the small hours of the nights. The performance is so captivating that the audience are spell-bound unaware of the longs hours. Theru Koothu is more popular in the northern districts of Tamilnadu.
Oyil means beauty. This dance is hence the dance of beauty. Traditionally, it is danced only by men. First a few people will stand in a row and start dancing with rhythmic steps with musical accompaniment. Intricate steps are used in martial arts, such as Silambattam. Then gradually the row will become longer as the new comers and guests all join and dance along as they like. The dancers wear ankle-bells. Normally, the dance is performed with the accomplishment of musical instruments and songs. It is performed near the temples or public places in the morning and evening hours, at times even till midnight. Styles of Oyilattam differ from place to place.
Puli Attam is performed by young men with painted bodies in colours yellow and black, complete with fangs, head gear with ears, paws with claws and long tail, simulating the prancing, ouncing tiger in every ferocious move. Wildly beating drums add frenzy to the performance. This dance is regularly performed during temple festivals, drawing large crowds.
The main singer here is accompanied by a chorus, musical instruments and a main instrument, the Villu or Bow, fixed with bells . The villu is struck rhythmically when the bells jingle in tune. The main singer relates a tale, interspersed with lively songs.
Art and Crafts
The well-known Tanjore paintings are the most important handicrafts of Tamil Nadu. These paintings are painted on wood, glass, mica, ivory and on walls, are defined by the use of thin sheet of gold along with primary colors, stylized modeling effects by shading the inside of the contours. Jewels, drapery and architectural elements like finely executed pillars, rich canopies, garlands of ropes and chandeliers are slightly raised by the use of special plaster, covered with pure gold leaf and embedded with semi-precious stone of different colors. Painting on ivory, mica, and the more difficult genre of glass paintings, were all introduced in the 18th century. Whereas the religious paintings are highly decorative and flat, the paintings of the women are highly conventionalized with an element of reality infused in the portraits.
Musical Instruments Craft
Music and dance play an important
role in the life of Tamil Nadu. Thus, the making of musical
instruments became a major craft, here. Most of the centers for this
craft are situated around Thanjavur, which is also the hometown of
many famous musicians of the country.
Just like other parts of the country, Tamil Nadu has its own traditional jewellery-especially the stone-encrusted jewelery, which reached its peak here. The ornaments, which are popular here are the oddiyaanam (gold waist belt), vanki (armlet) and jimiki (eardrop), which are traditionally crafted and finished with great dexterity. The jimiki is a bell-shaped ear jewel set in colored stones with pearls hanging at the lower end, and hangs from the lotus shaped kammal of diamonds or rubies worn on the lower lobe of the ear. Other beautiful jewel that Tamil women wear are maattal, adigai, maangaamaalai, thaali or mangalasuthra, kaasumaalai, puduchcheri golusu, Gajja golusu.
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