Originated in the 18th century, Tholpavakoothu is also known as pavakoothu (puppet play) or nizhalattam (shadow play). In Tholpavakoothu, puppets (pavakal) made of deer skin are arranged behind a long white screen in front of bright wick lamps. It usually represents four characters from the Ramayana
. The puppets are made to dance to the accompaniment of songs from the Tamil version of the Ramayana. The performance starts late at night and continues up to daybreak.