A refinement of Ashtapadiattom, evolved by Manavedan, the Zamorin was Krishnanattom. The whole story of Krishna was cast into a drama-cycle which would need eight nights for serial p r o d u c t i o n . Vilwamangalam, a Krishna devotee, helped in designing the costume of Krishna. The actors in this dance drama have to conform themselves to the ballet element and mimetic expression. The narrative song is left to the musicians. Krishnanattom was created as a votive offering and it survives in that capacity in the temple of Guruvayoor where it is still performed. The dance drama is based on the text Krishna-Geetha which is in Sanskrit. Many of the characteristics of the earlier ritual folk dances such as Thiyyattom, Mudiyettu and Theyyam are seen in Krishnanattom especially in the
painting of the face in intricate patterns, and the use of masks and colourful, gorgeous costumes and head-dresses. The make-up costumes and ornaments used in Krishnanattom are almost similar to that seen in Kathakali, though in Krishnanattom some of the characters are seen using painted masks made of wood. The gestural language and abhinaya are not very well developed. More importance is given to pure dance (nritta) and the stress is always on group movements and group compositions. All the eight night plays are full of beautiful dances. In no other dance could be seen so many characters performing the same dance with the same facial expressions, eye movements, gestures, foot-work (and set to the same rhythm), with so much of co-ordination, and grace, e.g., Mullappoothutal in Rasalila (Sree Krishna with Gopies) Kaliyamardana Nritham etc.

Maddalam, elethalam and chengala are the musical instruments used.




Articles and Books

  • An appreciation of Krishnattam Performance Theatre and the World - Performance and the Politics of Culture
    Rustom Bharucha
    First published by Manohar Publications, India (1990). Reprinted by Routledge, London (1993).
    Chapter ten: Preparing for Krishna
    This article was first published in the Journal of Arts and Ideas, New Delhi, No. 16, 1988.
    krishnanu venti orungal Malayalam translation of Preparing for Krishna


  • Books

    1. Krishnanattam (Krishnagiti) with commentary in Malayalam by
      P.C. Vasudevan Elayath
      Published by Guruvayur Devaswom, Kerala, India.

    2. Krishnanattam
      Manavedakavi, Malayalam verse translation by M. Kunhan Varrier, with an introduction by P. V. Krishna Varrier. Published by Mangalodayam, Thrissur, Kerala (1940), pages 246.

    3. Krishnanattam
      A.C.G. Raja, Trichur, (1988).

    4. Krishnanattam - Krishnagiti
      With prose translation by P.C.V. Raja . Published by Manaveda's fourth birth centenary Celebration Committee, Guruvayur, (1988), pages 288.

    5. Krishnattam
      Martha Bush Ashton-Sikora and Robert P. Sikora
      Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi (1993)
      ISBN 81-204-0769-5

    6. Krishnagiti of Manaveda edited and translated by C. R. Swaminathan and Sudha Gopalakrishnan. Published by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi and Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi (1997). ISBN 81-208-1478-9. More about this book.



  • Articles on Krishnattam on-line



    A complied list of articles on Krishnattam




  • Krishnattam related articles on-line


Text of Thotayam of Krishnattam with English translation.

Krishnagiti Mahatmyam by Shri P.C. Ettanunni Raja (in sanskrit)

Krishnattam in the news

Krishnagiti celebration at Guruvayur

Krishnattam Judges




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