Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Chakyar Koothu

Koothu is an art form in which the stories of Hindu mythology and epics are orally rendered primarily with the support of acting and hand gestures. In the olden days, it was confined to temple premises.  Only the members of the Chakyar community performed this art form and hence the name Chakyar Koothu. This was performed in temple theatres called Koothambalam.

In Chakyar Koothu the entire story is presented by a single performer. The costumes are that of a court jester. Facial make-up is done with rice powder, turmeric powder and black powder. He wears an ornament in one ear and a betel leaf in the other. An accompanying artist plays the percussion instrument Mizhavu in the background.

The highlights of Chakyar Koothu, is satire, social criticism, humor and related stories or episodes presented during the performance.  In the olden days of royalty, the Chakyar had the right to criticise even the King and his acts while performing.  The practice was that the audience should listen to the Chakyar and accept his criticisms.  Any opposition to comments made by the Chakyar while performing would have led to an end in the performance of the art form in that premises for ever.

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