Safeguarding and Transmission of the Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre

  • Project budget:
    • US$ 151,241
  • Source:
    • Japan Funds-in-Trust
  • Dates of implementation:
    • 01/01/2004 - 01/10/2007

Benefitting country(ies): India


Kutiyattam is the oldest surviving form of Sanskrit theatre in Kerala, India, which developed a rich symbolic set of facial gestures, masks, and colorful costumes. This project aimed to bring Kutiyattam performers, previously working separately, together in creative exchange and expand the interest in their art. The long-term objectives were to:

  • Create a network of Kutiyattam institutions and gurukalam (learning centres)
  • Nurture the transmission to future generations
  • Develop new audiences for Kutiyattam
  • Foster further academic research on Kutiyattam

To address them, the project activities included the organization of:

  • A Network of Kutiyattam Associations through joint coordination meetings of Kutiyattam institutions and gurukalam (learning centres), as well as the compilation of a Kutiyattam Register of traditional families and individual practitioners
  • Training workshops and art camps for young artists and an increased number of performances, while the wider public was engaged in public performances and festivals
  • Workshop for performers to handle palm-leaf manuscripts of Kutiyattam, often in possession of families; re-edition of old palm-leaf manuscripts and production of new plays; and audio-visual recordings and a series of documentary films
  • Academic seminars and publications

A major result was that for the first time Kutiyattam performers cooperated in an association to address common issues and exchange practices, which in the past was kept privately in the last three custodian families. Such generation of social capital in communication is crucial to the survival of any cultural practice.

Full project description : English in preparation

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