The Kathakali masks today available as little souvenirs and showpieces are an icon of Kerala’s culturescape. Complete with the elaborate headgear, painted face and long black hair of theKathakali costume, these curios are made in plaster of Paris, clay or papier mache.
Based on the colour of the face, the shape of the headgear and beard, there are five distinctive types of characters in Kathakali. The pacha or ‘green’ costume represent the virtuous and noble; the kathi or ‘knife’ the proud, aggressive, and unrighteous; the red thadi or ‘red beard’ is the aggressive and demonic, the white thadi or ‘white beard’ the mythical and fantastic beings like the monkey gods and the black thadi or ‘black beard’- the tribesmen, foresters and cave dwellers. The minukku or ‘polished’ characters represent women, sages, Brahmins etc. The Keralite usually goes for the pacha or the good characters for displaying at homes.
This multi-coloured extravagant craft has become a lucrative village industry. The Kathakalimask is available at Culture Shoppe’s outlet at Mascot Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram – 695 033, Kerala. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Culture Shoppe is the official agency of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala to promote Kerala Souvenirs.