Spanning mythology and stories from the epics and marked by powerful dialogues, impressive costumes and colourful make-up, which dance-drama form from Karnataka usually begins at night and goes on til

Yakshajana is a theatre form that is most common along the coast as well as in the Malenadur region of Karnataka. The term Yakshajana is a combination of yaksha, who are nature spirits, with jana or gana which means song. Like most theatre forms found in South India, Yakshajana combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make up as well as stage techniques and as such it closely resembles western opera. In Karnataka, it sometimes simply referred to as ‘the play’.

The themes present in Yakshajana are generally taken from the epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata or the Puras which are ancient Hindu texts. When performing Yakshajana, the actors are generally wearing large headgear with intricate facial make up as well as colourful costumes with elaborate ornaments which help give a superhuman appearance to the characters that are being presented. The current form of Yakshajana has been inspired by many different art forms such as ritual theater, temple arts, royal theater and secular arts.

The facial make up of the actors vary from simple to very elaborate designs.  The motif on the face differs and depends if the actor is portraying a hero, demon or a female character. The makeup for a demon is quite elaborate and features artificial eyelids as well as white dots to showcase the violent and fierce nature of demons. These types of makeup can take many hours to complete.


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