Origin of Kathakali
The actual roots of Kathakali can be traced to at least 1500 years earlier. The art of Kathakali incorporates the characteristic features of many of the dances and dramas of South India. It evolved out of the earlier dance forms like the Chakiayarkoothu and Koodiyattom, Mudiyettu, Theyyattom, Sastrakali, Krishnanattom and Ramanattom of Kerala. The ruler of Calicut in the 17th century wrote a poem on the life of Lord Krishna called the Krishnageeti and asked this to be performed at the temple. This was Kathakali preceded by a style called the Krishnatam, which was a masked dance drama, for very many similarities in the presentations, costumes, acting and background music could be cited in both. Another ruler of Kottarakara saw this play and was so impressed that he requested the Zamorin of Calicut to send the troupe to his kingdom, which the latter refused, angering the ruler of Kottarakara. He then decided to create his own play on the life of God Rama called the Ramanattam, which soon became popular and spread everywhere.
The ruler Tampuran of Kottayam soon turned into Kathakali. The costumes and make up were improved so that the facial expressions were emphasized. Dramatic plots were also selected for presentation. Episodes from Mahabharata were chosen, which were more attractive to the audiences. The style was also renamed. With all these developments Kathakali remained in the shadows till the great poet Vallathol initiated Keral.
Kathakali is an ancient and tradition dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play". Kathakali uses elaborate make-ups, costumes and background. Kathakali was originated in the 17th century and has its roots in Hindu mythology. Kathakali has a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. Kathakali is based on religious themes. They play is mostly based on the two epics 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata'.
Popular belief is that Kathakali is emerged from "Krishananattam", the dance drama on the life and activities of Lord Krishna created by the Zamorin of Calicut. Once Kottarakkara Thampuran, the Raja of Kottarakkara who was attracted by Krishnanaattam requested the Zamorin for the loan of a troupe of performers. Due to the political rivalry between the two, Zamorin did not allow this. So Kottarakkara Thampuran created another art form called Ramanattam which was later transformed into Aattakatha. Krishnanaattam was written in Sanskrit, and Raamanaattam was in Malayalam. By the end of 17th century, Attakatha was presented to the world with the title kathakali.