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Koodiyattam - A Great Classical Drama of Kerala

Updated on April 22, 2017

Koodiyattam - The Oldest Classical Drama in the World

Koodiyattam is one of the oldest classical drama in the world. It is believed to be originated in Kerala, India, about 2000 years ago. Koodiyattam is one of the rare ancient classical dramas that has been performing without any change in the world.

Koodiyattam - Significant Features

The chakyars, a section of people who earned their livelihood doing traditional temple duties in Kerala, are the earliest actors and they staged the Sanskrit plays of Bhasa and Kulesekhara varman in temple theatres. The characters used very rich gesters, elaborate dresses and costumes. Every word of the play is interpreted by theoretical gesture. The jester uses Malayalam language to explain the Sanskrit passages. It has brought the classical sanskrit dramas to the masses. Kudiyattam has influenced the later classical dance dramas Krishnanattam and Ramanattam, out of which the greatest classical drama, Kathakali originated.

Koodiyattam means dancing together. Both women and men participated in the performance. Abhinaya is the most important element in Koodiyattam. All the four types of abhynaya-angigam, vachikam, sathikam, aharyam- are fully utilised in koodiyattam.


The Kudiyattam orchestra combines aesthetic beauty and tradition. Mizhavu, Kuzhithalam, Idakka, Kombu, and Kurukuzhal are the accompaniment to Kudiyattam.


Koodiyattam has traditionally been an exclusive art form performed in special venues called koothambalams in Hindu temples and access to these performances were highly restricted to only caste Hindus. Also, performances are lengthy taking up to forty days to complete.

Order of Events

1. Orchestra Performance

2. Nambiar sings songs

3. Jester enters

4. Explains the context of the story

5. Beginning of Play

Women's Participation

One of the notable feature of Koodiyattam is the participation of women as performers in it from its very begining. Nangiars, the women members of Nambiars are the earliar participants. There is no any type of caste restriction for the performers now.

Famous Training centres

1.Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthututhy, Thrissur

2. Ammanoor Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam at Irinjalakuda, Thrissur

Famous Actors

  1. Mani Madhava Chakyar

  2. Ammannur Madhava Chakyar

  3. Painkulam Raman Chakyar

  4. Mani Damodara Chakyar

  5. Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar


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