Kummatti Kali

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Kummattikali is a popular mask dance in the state of Kerala, particularly in South Malabar. Also referred to as Kummatti Kali, this is usually performed by artists moving from one house to another to entertain and collect gifts. This is one of the spectacles of onam festival celebration.

The Costumes for Kummatti Kali

The costumes and masks used during the performance is one of the most interesting parts of Kummattikali. The artists are wearing wooden masks portraying the faces of hunters, Kiratha, Krishna, Darika and Kiratha. The usual materials used for making these masks are saprophyte, Alstonia scholaris, Hog Plum tree, jack fruit tree or Coral tree.

Performers wear skirts made of woven plated grass. For bushier appearance, some dancers may even cover their body with grass. They tend to make their appearance more cheerful by attaching “talla” on their mask which giving the illusion of open mouth with no tooth. They also hold and control a long stick made from ‘Kummattikali’ – this is where the name of the dance derived from. The performance depicts the myth of Shaiva whering an old woman, called ‘Thamma’, walks with the aid of her stick. Thamma symbolizes being a mother of everything.

The Performance

Kummatti Kali artists dance in the rhythm of Onavillu – a bow-like instrument that creates sound through string vibration. This is made of Areca nut wood. Artists use narrow stick made of bamboo to beat the strings. Kummattikali represents themes of the stories of Darika Vadham, Ramayana and folk tales of Manjan Nayare Pattu