Koodiyattam is the only surviving classical Sanskrit
theatre in India, now recognised by UNESCO as a Human Heritage Art. Kulasekhara Varma Cheraman Perumal
, an ancient king of Kerala
, is known as the creator of koodiyattam in its present form. His book Aattaprakaram, considered to be the most authentic work on this unique art form, describes the modes of performing Koodiyattam.
This art form which is estimated to be around one thousand years old is performed by the Chakyars and Nangyars of Kerala. Chakyars enact the male roles, while Nangyars take female roles. The actors and actresses render verbal acting in Sanskri} and Prakrit. Background music is provided using mizhavu and edakka. Sanskrit plays are chosen for presentation and one act of a play is completed only in 20 to 40 days at the rate of 5 hours performance per day. Earlier this art form was presented only in Koothambalams but now it is enacted on public stage.
Vidooshaka (royal clown) in Koodiyattam tells the audience, in language rich in humour, the development of the plot. He also interprets the hero’s Sanskrit dialogue in