Puppetry is a form or ART of theatre or performance that involves the manipulation of puppets – inanimate objects, often resembling some type of human or animal figure, that are animated or manipulated by a human called a puppeteer. The puppeteer uses movements of her hands, arms, or control devices such as rods or strings to move the body, head, limbs, and in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet.
The puppeteer often speaks in the voice of the character of the puppet, and then synchronizes the movements of the puppet's mouth with this spoken part.
Marionettes are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer.
Puppetry is a very ancient form of theatre which was first recorded in the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece.
Tholpavakoothu puppet plays are based on selected verses from the Tamil epic Kamba Ramayana.
As a ritualistic art form, Tholpavakoothu is performed at more than 100 temples in the Palakkad, Trichur and Mallapuram districts of Kerala from January through May on specially constructed stages called koothumadams.
By the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), puppets played to all social classes including the courts, yet puppeteers, as in Europe, were considered to be from a lower social stratum.Thailand has Hun Krabok, a rod puppet theatre which is the most popular form of puppetry.Vietnam developed the art form of water puppetry, that is unique to that country.The language used in Tholpavakoothu performances is a dialect of Tamil along with Sanskrit and Malayalam words.Performances are traditionally accompanied by musical instruments from Kerala such as the chenda, madhalam or ezhupara (a cylindrical drum made out of jackfruit wood and covered with calf-skin on both ends), ilathalam (cymbals), shankha (conch), chengila (gong), kurumkuzhal (a double reed wind instrument) and cherukuzhal.The actions, gestures and spoken parts acted out by the puppets are typically used in storytelling.