Chakyar, also spelt Chakkiar, is a community name for Koothu
performers, who belong to the Brahmin
caste of Kerala
. The name 'Chakyar' means those who give expression to commendable words.
Koothu is an ancient dance presentation of Kerala. The dance, performed solely by the members of this caste, is the recital of Puranic legends. The presentation generally is filled with satirical humor, which made the rendering attractive to the audience.
Chakkiar is also an unrivalled maestro of Koodiyattam, another form of entertainment that has something in common with Koothu. Koodiyattam is the only surviving classical Sanskrit theatre in India. This art form is estimated to be around one thousand years old. The combined performance of Chakyars and Nangyars, who take female roles, in the dance gave the name Koodiyattam (composite dancing).
During the performance, Chakyar attires in elaborate and colorful make-up and costume. He wears a Kiridam (headgear) in red, black and white colors, with small glass mirrors. The mirrors representing 2000 tongues of Adiseshan signify that he is as quick-witted as the tongues of Adiseshan. His headgear also contains a small tuft of red threads hanging like the hair. The performer wears a white dhothi like cloth, which is held at the back and puffed up like the back of a swan. His face is painted white and body is also painted white like a blouse.