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  Tribal Arts  



This is particularly popular among the tribes in Wynad and Malappuram districts. It is more ritualistic oriented than pure entertainment. This is usually performed as a pooja to please family deities and also during marriage ceremonies.
When the instruments,Thappu and Kuzhal are being played the naikars begin their performance. With jingling anklets round their legs, they dance in clock-wise and anti-clockwise directions to the accompaniment of the musical instruments.

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Paniyar are another set of tribals inhabiting the hilly forests of Wayanad district. Their dance is highly masculine and only men participate. Here the dancers numbering about eight or ten stand in a circle with hands linked together. They move around with rhythmic flexions of the body.


It is mixed dance of the aboriginals of the dense forest of Travancore area in which both men and women participate. They dance holding arms together, or shoulder to shoulder, linked in a backlock posture. The dance develops into variety of pleasing pattern, in which the men and women change their positions with amazing speed.


Thavalakali is a tribal dance in which a number of participants, usually boys, jump one above the other in succession, imitating the leaps of the frogs.


Mudiyattom, also known as Neelilayattom, is a tribal dance in which only women partake. The women stand on small wooden blocks and the dance begins with slow and simple movements of the body which culminate in graceful movements of the head. The uncombed hair of the participants flow down and swing in rhythmic waves.

Only women partake in this primitive dance of the Kaadar tribes of the forests of Kochi area. The performers arrange themselves in a semicircle. They hold the tip of their clothes in their hands to the level of the waist and wave it to various rhythms of the dance. It is a very simple but elegant tribal dance in slow steps.


This is a group dance of the Kanikkar tribes. The dance is performed as a rural offering. The steps of the dancers perfectly synchronise with the waving of the hands and the beating of the drums.


The Ramayana episode in which Sita is being enchanted by Maricha in the guise of a golden deer is enacted in graceful movements.


Gadhika is a ritual dance performed by Adiya tribes of Waynad district. The art form is meant to cure ailments. The performance is also done as part of a ritual for having had a safe delivery of child.


Koorankali is another tribal dance which is similar to Mankali. Here one man enacts the role of a wild boar while another enacts the role of a hunting dog. The movements are perfectly timed to the rhythmic beats of primitive drums. While this is going on, the large number of onlookers who form a circle round the two dancers, shout wild cries of joy with occasional clapping of hands and jerky dances.


Edaya nritham is the dance of the tribal shepherds. Both men and women participate with One of the shepherds acting as the lead singer. This is repeated in chorus by all the rest. As the singing is in progress, one from the group imitates the special sounds of shepherds driving their sheep.

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