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The credit for having given to Kerala an important place in the field of Karnatic music goes to Swathi Thirunal (1829-47), the ruler of Travancore. Some great names like Shadkala Govinda Marar, Vativelu, Ponnayya and the Tanjavoor Brothers have contributed to the growth of music at that time. In addition to classical music, Kerala can also be proud of its contribution to the development of folk music and light music. The Vadakkan pattukal (Northern ballads), which celebrate the exploits of Tacholi Othenan, are among the best known of its kind in Kerala.
Kerala has its own tradition in the field of drama, which is intimately bound up with the origin, and growth of the art form, Koodiyattam. A very decisive phase in the evolution of modern Kerala drama began with the composition of a series of short plays with historical themes by C.V.Raman Pillai. The Kerala people’s Art Club paved the way of bringing social issues into the stage and contributed to the development of drama to a great extent.
Malayalam cenema is always in the top of the list among other Indian cinemas. By portraying the real life to the celluloid Malayalam cinema won many awards and international fame. Chemmeen, Swayamvaram, and Nirmalyam are some of them. The State government have extended its patronage to the films by instituting state awards with effect from 1970. It has also set up a Film Development Corporation and a studio in the Public Sector at Thiruvananthapuram.
The Tantrasamuchaya, Vasthuvidya, Maushyalaya chandrika and Silparatna are the celebrated treatises in the field of Architecture that Kerala has contributed to the world. The Nalukettu of Kerala is famous for building along with the rules of Tachu Sastra (Science of Architecture). The Padmanabhapuram palace, the Dutch Palace at Mattancherry and Krishnapuram Palace near Kayamkulam are some of the famous palaces of Kerala.The rock temples, woodcarvings, and metal cuttings are excellent pieces of works of Kerala.
The art of painting in Kerala has a tradition, which goes back to the immediate Post-Aganta Period. The murals of Tirunandikkara (Kanya Kumari dist) are the specimens of this art in Kerala and they are believed to be of Pandiyan origin. Churches of Kerala also contain some valuable pieces of paintings. The performance of religious rites necessitated the development of a special kind of pictorial art in Kerala known as Kalamezuthu. Raja Ravi Verma is one of the outstanding names in the art of painting in Kerala. The paintings of Raja Ravi Verma adorn the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, Trivandrum and some other notable art galleries of India.
The Handi crafts of Kerala, noted for their uniqueness in style, perfection of form and elegance of design form an invaluable part of the life stream of Kerala culture. The craftsmen of Kerala have made the most skillful use of the raw materials without sacrificing the requirements of the aesthetics and thus made their rich contribution to the life of the community. By Bell Metal casting the craftsmen of Kerala produced a variety of images of gods and goddesses. Aranmula Metal Mirror deserves special mention in the bell metal industry of Kerala. The mirror is made of an alloy consisting of ten parts of copper and 5.50 parts of tin. It is oval in shape and 6 inches in size and .50 inch thick and has a tail like handle by which it is to be held. The artisans of Aranmula who have practiced this art all these years almost as the family secret. Koftgari works, Wood Carving, Marquetry in wood, Ivory and Buffalo horn Carving, Screw Pine mat Making, Bamboo Reed Weaving, Palmyra Leaf Weaving, Kora Grass Mat Making, Rattan or Cane work, Embroidery and Lace Making, Lapidary work, Granite carving, Coconut shell carving, Lacquer work, Cotton map making, Toys and Dolls, Jewellery, coir Products, Musical instruments manufacturing are also some of the important handicraft making activities of Kerala.
Thullal, the dance form of Kerala is yet another gem in the vast repertoire of Kerala's performing arts. It has from its very inception, enjoyed a ready appeal with both the commoner and the connoisseur for unlike forms such as Koodiyattam, Krishnanattam, Kathakali and Mohiniyattam, it requires no initiation to intelligently respond to it. One can easily react and enjoy Thullal without any prior exposure or sophisticated understanding. As this is composed in the language of the layman, it is known as the 'poorman's Kathakali'
The word Thullal belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and literally means 'jumping', this however can be extended to mean 'to leap about' or to 'cut a caper'.
Belief prevails that Thullal, both as a form of dance and as an evolved literary expression, owes itself to the genius of one man. Kunchan Nambiar. The poet, social critic and humorist who lived two centuries ago was the pioneer behind this dance form and he wrote the text of Thullal and choreographed the play. He tried to bring out through this dance form, the social conditions of his time, the distinctions of class and weaknesses and whims of the rich and the great. Thullal often reflects the literary, artistic and cultural life of the medieval Kerala. Here, the stories from Epics are retold in Malayalam poetry with the sylised singing of the lines depicting the beauty of the Dravidian metres.
In its presentation, Thullal is conceived as a solo dance. The dance is supported by two musicians, who stand a little behind them. One of them plays the Maddalam, a drum and the other small cymbals. Both musicians are also expected to sing along with the dancer. No stage or any other formal arrangement is required for the performance. Unlike Kathakali or Koodiyattam, Thullal uses no curtain for entries, exits or scenes, nor is there a formal seating arrangement. As is the practise with all the Kerala's performing arts, a lighted brass lamp is installed in front of the dancer, even if the performance is held during the day.