What is the make up requirement for the characters ‘Rama’ and ‘Ravana’ in a Kathakali performance

Published: 2021-07-09 04:45:05
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‘The Ramayana’ is considered as one of the great Hindu (Indian) epics of the fourth century BC that uses the performance style of the traditional Indian dance drama—Kathakali. Kathakali (literally, ‘story play’) is a type of total theatre, which is described as dance-drama. It performs dramatized stories in the form of combining dance, acting and music. Actors never speak on stage, as the text is present by the onstage vocalists. Therefore their body movements, hand gestures and facial expressions are always important.
With facial gestures, the actor must be able to manipulate their facial muscles in order to effectively portraying their role. Their face articulation is enhanced by the ornate and symbolized makeup. Thus, a company, who wishes to perform ‘The Ramayana’ in a Kathakali style should understand the makeup requirements as its uniqueness and symbolism ‘transforms the actors into a wide variety of idealized and archetypal character types’ . Hence, it is crucial to obtain research of this specific element of Kathakali.
‘The Ramayana’ portrays a prince who sacrifices himself to defeat the evil in the world, and depicts the concept of ‘order vs. chaos’, where ‘order’ is promoted by god and ‘chaos’ is caused by demons. The two ideal representatives of god and demons in ‘The Ramayana’ are Rama and Ravana, which both are ‘unnatural’ characters. Yet, the complexity of the make up presented by Kathakali actors can allow audience to have a realistic touch of the unearthly characters. In the following, I will be focusing on Rama and Ravana’s makeup requirements.
Kathakali make up, is peculiarly native to the Kerala (south west region of India) folk art. Once the actor put on the makeup that represents his character, they are no longer themselves, they have assumed the life of the character they are playing . Generally the makeup is highly exaggerated by using bright and bold colours and intentionally to change the normal proportions of the human face . A highly stylized make up is the primary aesthetics effect combining with vivid facial expressions provides audiences to identify the hero and demon immediately in the performance.
The style of makeup differs according to the type of character. While other theatre practices might identify the two elements in terms of a character’s individual personality, Kathakali symbolizes role- types . Hence, before look at the requirements, it is necessary to first explore the role type. Generally, the Kathakali characters for the purpose of make up can be classified in to three role types in terms of their nature and virtues : Sattvika, Rajsika and Tamasika. Sattvika has a virtuous personality, all characters of God celestial beings and saints, for example, can be included.
While Rajsika is the complete opposite of Sattvika, it is a class that evil and fierce characters join into. Lastly, Tamasika characters are usually involved in the terrific and destructive acts in the play. Costume and make-up are so appropriately divided among the above three types of character, it allows audiences easily explore and appreciate the nature of the role- types and the complicated theatrical pattern of Kathakali. ‘The Ramayana’, talks about the journey of Prince Rama to achieve greatness. Rama can be classified in the group of Sattvika.
In the play, there are a lot of significant events that proves Rama is in the class of Sattvika. Even in the beginning of the play, when he met Sita and set her as his ideal wife. Sita’s father forces Rama to stringing a large bow that is as big as a mountain to prove his worthiness for marrying his daughter. He was able to do so under a large crowd watching. This not only allows him to marry Sita, but also he is publicly acclaimed as a hero. Moreover, Rama’s behavior certainly presents a noble personality.
The best example will be when slysly Kaikeyi speak in the behalf of Dasaratha and said he has decided to crown Rama’s brother, Bharatha as the king (originally Rama will be crowned today), and command Rama to go away and dwell in the forest without a decent reason. Rama didn’t refused to do so and obey Kaikeyi, even when his teacher Vasishtha stop him, he answered ‘Forgive me. It is my duty to obey her also, since she derives her authority from my father, and he ahs given her his word. ’ This clearly reveals that his virtuous and godly personality. This role type is the most refined of all in the Kathakali repertory. They are never permitted to speak or even make a sound on stage. It is also reflected in the dignified and balanced makeup, which let audiences to focuses attention on the actor’s eyes and total facial expression. The type of make up that Rama can be used in Kathakali is called Paccha as it is specifically for Sattvika and epic heroic characters. This type of make up is suitable for characters that are upright, moral and full of a calm inner poise . The Paccha make up first has a deep green base where green in Kathakali represents godliness, and could reflect the basic inner exquisiteness of Rama. There is a stylized mark of Vi?? u on his forehead i. e. yellow base and markings of red and black, which can be shown in the below figure. Visnu is a minor Vedic god and is considered have had nine earthly incarnations, where Rama is one of them. Figure 1. Vi?? u mark The treatment for eye is essential. Eyebrows in painted in a black soft curving pattern and black is also used for underlining of the lower lids. Both of the exaggerated and stretched eye make up extends to the side of the face, near the temples. The shape of the thick eyeliner that frames the eyes is assume to be the shape of broad-blade sabre of a sweeping curve of a bow .
Also, the white of the eye has to be reddened, the redden eyes is called crimson eyes. This is done because it stands in contrast to the colour scheme of the face. By making the crimson eyes, Paccha characters has to put in a few young seeds of cundapoou in their eyes. Then by rotating their eyes, the seed colour (brilliant red) will dissolved in his eyes. Pacca’s lips will paint in brilliant coral red. Instead of a wavy –like red lips, there is two circular attachments at both end of the mouth that look as if smiling.
It is because the ‘these two sides circular patches is to get self- position and restraint to the character, which qualities are wanting in other role types. ’ Finally, in order to finish the make up, a cutti will be added to frame the entire face from ‘ear to ear’ . A cutti looks like multi-layers of white paper that each white paper is come out from the previous one. The purpose of a cutti is to change the normal structure of the actor’s face by widening the jawline and narrowing again at the chin. The below figure is the whole make up look for Rama, a Pacca character in the class of Sattvika, which concludes the above description.
Figure 2. Rama’s make up Additional information about the role type Sattvika is that: a medium circular crown is usually worn. First it is to symbolize the high status of Rama, prince, and second to balances the thick and upturning shape of the black eyebrows and curve of the cutti. Figure 3: Rama’s makeup with crown On the other hand, Ravana can be classified into the role type, Rajsika. This type of role usually has a streak of nobility in their blood, and Ravana in this play is the ruler of Lanka. Ravana is an ambitious yet arrogant character.
Although he is a bad spirit and demon, he has some redeeming qualities, which is exactly the trait of an Rajsika character. For instance, when before he thinking of creating chaos, he is confused that he will curse the moon for being unpredictable. However, his demon force of disorder has cloud his mind, and eventually creating pure chaos. Non-sensibly, he has also blames all of his problems on Sita, claiming that if she wasn’t that beautiful, he would never fallen in love and make this foolish mistake of kidnapping her. This can truly reveals he is weak to admit his faults.
Moreover, in the battle of Ravana and Rama, Ravana has chosen to use his magic weapon, Maya, which created illusions and confused the enemy , which reflects his surreptitious and devil character quality. For the role type Rajsika, which Ravana is one of them, are distinctively treated with makeup, Katti. This is because Katti is especially suitable for demoniac characters whom standing against the hero of the play, where in this play Ravana is fighting against the hero, Rama. Compared with Paccha, the make up of Katti is more complicated. The term ‘Katti’ means the knife, as the shapes in the makeup are sharply bent daggers.
The foundation colour of Katti is green indicating this type of character is too high born. While his evil and arrogance can be represent by the nose that painted in red. Then, two red board, flat- ended curves that is highly shaped and highlighted with white frame is rise up to the forehead, above eyebrows from the bridge of the nose. In addition, on the forehead, between the two red curves there are white lines across the forehead with an upturned capital ‘A’. Moreover, Then the red paint on the nose rises up to a stylized red moustache framed by white rice paste and black colour as a border.
The curls of the moustache on either side of the face are over cheeks. The upturning point of the moustache is directly pointed to the eyes. The whole image is like a red patch, moustache, covering the upper jaw , which can be shown in the below figure. The astonishing combination of red and green can create high accomplishment as well as evil designs. Figure 4. The use of red on katti characters Thus the use of red on Katti characters can build up the demoniac nature and symbolized the devilish in the actions.
The use of white has no a particular function, yet it can reinforce the effect of the colour red, and can exaggerate of the evil motives of an evil character. Also, the lips will be painted in red too, and there are in the same shape as Pacca’s lips, which on the side of the lips contain circular red patches. In order to add fierceness to the terrifying appearance of Ravana, two long protruding canine teeth are perched on the side of the mouth . Comparing this to a Pacca character, although both characters are using the same color tone for their makeup: green base with red accents.
It is noticeable that the makeup of eyes has given Katti a total extension to the evil face. It emphasizes and exaggerates the villain expressions. First, Katti have used a very thick under eye line to trace his eyes. Then, the upper eyebrows paint will start from the inner edge of the outer crescent of the white rice-paste, a line curls up round the nose and comes to rest in the cavity of the eyebrow. And that black paint will be extend to the area of red patterns on the forehead, then the two colours, black and red will create a contacting feeling and further exaggerate the red patterns.
The eyes are extended on the both side towards the base of the nose and the temples, and strengthen the ignoble being of Ravana, a Katti character. This can be shown in the above figure. Figure 5. The eye make up of Katti (Kalamandalam Shanmukhan as Ravana) The final feature to represent Katti’s evil nature in the make up, are the two protrusions—white knobs (called chuttipuvvus) on the face which they are stick to the nose-tips and middle of the forehead. The sizes of the white bulbs vary for each Katti character in terms of the cruelty of him. The more wicked the character is, the larger is the size of these knobs.
For Ravana, both white bulbs are in the same size, and it should be using the largest size due to the fact that he keeps creating serious and foolish chaos in the play. Instead of a plain nose and patterns of a virtuous character with the help of the nature of colour, these two white bulbs can further symbolize overbearingness of Ravana. Similar with Rama, a Pacca character, Ravana wears a cutti and the eyes have to redden as well. And the below diagram can conclude the make up of Ravana that wears a Katti make up. Figure 6. The completed makeup of Ravana All the makeup materials that are used in Kathakali are naturally made.
The paint made by colour stones. It is first powered and filtered before sulphur and a greasy substance usually coconut oil are mixed to make a paste . While the paint of cutti is mixed by rice-paste and lime, and when it dries it will form a solid and hard shape. On every night’s performance, the actors will have their makeup done in an area called ‘green room’. The completed makeup for both of the characters, Rama and Ravana will usually take two to four hours. However, the makeup artist does not do the whole makeup process. The actors have to first begin their makeup by outlining the major patterns on their face.
Then, he will go to a makeup artist, which he will apply the appropriate rice-paste patterns layer by layer . Ravana, for example, the makeup artist will need to trace the pattern of the moustache. After that the actor will need to colour the patterns by themselves. As Kathakali is a traditional India type of art, and all theatre company will generally follow the traditional, especially on the makeup, costumes, headdress. Thus, all theatre company would do same makeup for Rama and Ravana. Concluding, actors who want to portray the role of Rama and Ravana of The Ramayana in the Kathakali style must aware of their own makeup style.
Although the realism in the makeup is temporal, the true state of the character mind is portrayed through it. Also, due to the fact that a make up is the first aesthetic element that audiences observe from their character, which they are able to distinguish the two completely different role types— Sattvika and Rajsika. In other extreme words, this element can control and alter the interpretation of audiences towards the characters, as well as the facial movements that the actor creates for his own character. Bibliography (Critique of Sources)
Literary Sources 1. Gayanacharya Avinash C. Pandeya “The Art of Kathakali” Publisher: Kitabistan, Allahabad (India), 1961 “The Art of Kathakali” is first published in 1943, and the version that I read is the second edition, which is published in 1961. The author has revised and enlarged the information, in order to add a new set of illustrations to facilitate a further and deeper understanding of the art: Kathakali. The book has included a range of facts and analysis on Kathakali theatre: origin, techniques, costumes, makeup and gestural codes.
During the process of completing the work, Pandeya has studied the basic trait of people of Kerala was studied in order to reach to the deep roots of kathakali. Other than this fresh experience, he has a close contact with the scholars on kathakali for few years. At the same time, he has got guidance and assistance with Guru Gopi Nath, who has started a dance school at Madras. Despite the lack of bibliography, the author acknowledges a variety of sources that he used and adopted in his research at the end of the book, i. e. mainly literary sources (books and contemporary writings).
I then researched his sources, and it appears that they are unbiased information. This book has provided detailed information on the every aspect of the Kathakali theatre. I especially found the makeup part useful. However at the same time, it is difficult to read, as there are a lot of Indian terms, which I have to take time to understand. 2. Phillip B. Zarrilli “The Kathakali Complex: Actor, Performance, Structure” Publisher: Abhinav publications (India), 1984 “The Kathakali Complex: Actor, Performance, Structure” is another collection of information on Indian Dance drama, Kathakali.
It has also focused on different aspect of the theatrical style. However the author, Pillip Zarrilli, has used much more simply terms to explain the elements. Therefore it is suitbale for individual and dramaturge that with little knowledge at the beginning, as the book begins with narrative account of three kathakali performances, then detailed account of the actor in performance. Phillip Zarrilli is notable British practitioner of the Indian material arts, including Kathakali. He made repeated trips to India to engage in advanced training. Also, has worked with Indian choreographers on several international projects.
With that much experiences and positions in Kathakali (performer, director, participant, dramatrug), along with his surveys on expert, he has conducted a very reasonable and logical research. Hence, I think this book is reliable. I especially found the chapters ‘The Kathakali actor in performance’ and ‘an overview of the creation of the Kathakali actor’ interesting and useful for my RI. The most unique and useful part of this book is that it has provided a list of figures and diagrams with annotation at the beginning of the book, which makes readers very conveniently can able to search for information. 3.
Reginald Massy “India’s Dance” Publisher: Abhinav Publications (India), 2004 Reginald Massey has written on the culture, music, religious and dance of India in different papers, for example, The times, The Guardian and The Dancing Times of London. His book, “India’s Dance” consists different type of Indian dance, and one of them is kathakali. Although the introduction of kathakali is less, it is useful and concise. The use of this book in my RI is little, yet it is important, as I have used this book as checking/ supporting my other sources. This can ensure my sources are correct and they are presenting facts instead of opinions.
4. Prof. Stephen Hagin “Reading Guide: The Ramayana” Publisher: Kennesaw State University, 2008 Although “Reading Guilde: The Ramayana” is not directly linked into my Research Investigation, it is a reading guide that provides a very detailed background of the play, Ramayana. Also, it has included notes on each chapter and brief summaries of the themes. I think that the analysis this guild is valid as it was written by Prof. Stephen Hagin. He is an assistant Professor of English at Kennesaw State University, and has wrote, edited and designed three college English textbooks before.
However, there is no bibliography with his work, which it is hard to determinant the reliability of this study. Online Sources 5. Video by Kerala Tourism of the process of Kathakali Make-up http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=iu5pGb_fpE8&feature=player_embeddedLast visited: April 1st, 2013 This video is posted on the youtube. com. It is the first sources that gave me a full image about how Kathakali makeup look like, as well as the process of makeup. Without narration or caption, the whole video is simple just showing the process of Kathakali makeup.
Also, this video did not specify the name of the performance and characters. Therefore, a further investigation of the Kathakali makeup features and the role types is needed. Although this video was found on the Internet, and it is told that we have to cautious about Internet sources, I think that this is a reliable and valid resource. It is because it is posted by the Kerala Tourism and meaning that it is a government video to attract visitors. Hence, the authority power of the government is strong enough to trust. 6. Jeanette Issa, Introduction of Kathakali (July 2012) http://postcolonialstudies. emory. edu/kathakali/ Last visit: March 20th, 2013 This website provide me a general introduction to Kathakali as well as some brief analysis about other theatrical elements including makeup. The Internet may not be the most reliable platform, yet this site has provided me multiple hyperlinks to other websites, giving other information for example the history and some audio clips. I think this is a credible source, as it has referenced different type of sources that the author has used, for example websites and literary works (books and articles).
At the same time, the last update of this website is July 2012, which is the latest written sources among all of my sources. Therefore I think the author can able to provide a more update to date information about Kathakali. 7. Rajeeb, Rodolfo, Shiv, Kathakali- Make up and Costume (2000) http://library. thinkquest. org/C006203/cgi-bin/stories. cgi? article=mc§ion=dance/classical/kathakali&frame=parent Last Visit: March 21st, 2013 This website is specifically talk about the makeup and costume about Kathakali theatre, and it is analyzed according to the role types.
Although it is not very detailed, the words and terms are easy to read and understand. Therefore this website instead of helping my Research Investigation, it is to allow me have a background information about the role types in Kathakali. Although this website is created by three students all from secondary school, they are supervised by their teachers, which two of them are Indian and one of them is Amercian, form The Shri Ram School. However, as the students did not citied their resources, I doubt the reliability of this website.

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