Gombeatta is a string puppet play native to Karnataka
. The puppet figures look like Yakshagana live actors in headdress, facial make-up, costume and jewelry. All the rituals associated with Yakshagana are performed during the puppet play. Even the costumes of the puppets are similar to those worn by the artist of the folk art form. The puppets feature detailed make-up, a colorful headgear and heavy jewelry.
The puppets, made of lightwood, are artistically carved. Detailed carvings are done to each part of the body except those parts covered by the costume. Joints are provided at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hip and knees. Bells are attached to the ankle joints. Each puppet is attached with six nylon strings for its manipulation. In case the puppet is shown holding an object, an extra string is attached to the object.
The show is managed by a person referred to as Bhagavathar. This particular person is an accomplished musician with good storytelling skills. The stories are mostly derived from various Hindu mythologies and epics. Musicians provide the appropriate music according to the scenes. There are separate persons for delivering the dialogues. The puppets are given rhythmic movements according to the songs sung by the Bhagavathar. The narration of the story and the singing are interspersed.
The show is held in a raised stage. The puppeteers stand hidden behind a black cloth. The singers and the musicians stand on one side of the stage.