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and Students Since 1994


Adivasi Puppetry Artistic Heritage

Puppetry in Indian History

The ancient village of Pinguli in the Konkan region of Maharashtra has been home for nearly five hundred years of a wide variety of ritual performance arts. Due to the lack of support and the pressures of modernity in the region this invaluable heritage is in risk of disappearance. With the purpose of preserving the Adivasi artistic heritage, this trust is led by Shri Parshuram Vishram Gangavane. Gangavane has been working for more than thirty five years performing the traditional arts across India; and most recently with the opening of a Thakar Adivasi museum (May 2006) as well as a training program in the art of Chitrakathi paintings.


Their group performs the following traditional Thakar arts:


- Kalsutri Bahulya: This folkloric form of string marionette theatre is accompanied by a local orchestra consisting of dholak, zanj, tuntune and singing. The marionettes’ heads and hands are carved in wood while the rest of the body is adorned with colorful clothes. The marionettes are manipulated from behind the stage by a single puppeteer who is also in charge of giving voice to the characters. The stories which are presented are taken from the epic of the Ramayana and Mahabharata.


- Dayti: The dayti is the Thakar Adivasi form of the shadow puppet theatre. The characters are built using goat skin and the characteristic style of the Pinguli painting school. indian artistAs in the above mentioned art form, the stories are drawn from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The movements of the puppets, illuminated from behind the screen with an oil lamp, are accompanied by traditional music and the use of a shell to mark the entrance of the important characters.


- Chitrakathi: This is one of the few storytelling traditions alive in Maharashtra. With the help of paintings showing scenes of the ancient epics, the sutradhar unfolds the tale supported by the music of the vina, the taal and the huduk. It is in this type of performance that the stories of the Nandipuran are told showing the particular syncretism of Shiva and Vishnu religious paths.


Another eight ritual arts are present in their village including radha nrutya, the fugdya folk dance of the women, the pangul bael with the sacred bull and the potraja where the dancer burns himself to take the evil away. They also have shows which take on social issues as AIDS awareness and global warming.


The curriculum of the company as well as photos and media material is available on your request. There is also a webpage with further information on the Thakar Aangan (


India puppets


The traditional Indian arts are dependent on the support of both the people and the government to survive in a time where modernity and cultural sociological changes have pushed the Tribal Arts of India to the verge of extinction. They request that you help promote their rich art forms by informing them of upcoming festivals and the possibilities available to perform in India and beyond as well as the possibility of training other artists through workshops.




See the following links for more information:

Time loosens the strings of puppetry

Portrait du marionnettiste

Travel Blog From India

Thakar Adivasi Kala Angan Museum