Did you know that many scholars were confused whether shadow puppetry originated from India, china or turkey? But one thing that we know for sure is that Tholu Bommalata , a form of shadow puppetry originated from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Andhra Pradesh perhaps has the strongest tradition in shadow theatre. (Pani, 1986)

Places in Andhra Pradesh where tholu Bommalata is practiced:

  1. Madhavapatnam, near Kakinada
  2. DCPalli in Nellore district
  3. Nimmala Kunta in Anantapur district
  4. Narasaraopet in Guntur district

In Madhavapatnam, there are more than 50 families off traditional shadow puppeteers. But all the other villages where the puppeteers live have taken to other professions since they cannot earn their livelihood by performing shadow theatre alone. (gatha_home, 2010)

Now, would you want to know how these puppets looked? For that you’d have to wait another week till I write my next blog. So stay tuned.


Jiwan, P. (1986). Living dolls- story of Indian puppets. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of I; First Edition edition (1986)

Gatha  (feb 10 2010) leather puppets of Andhra Pradesh. Retrieved from



“In the dark of the night, loud beats of the drum and cries of the war horn fills and sweltering air, while glowing kings and demons fight across the flickering light”. (gaatha_home, 2010, para 1)

Has anyone visited dilli haat? I did a while ago and stumbled upon this beautiful craft called Thollu Bommalata. I saw many artefacts there like lampshades, wall hangings, etc. but when I went home and did my data collection, I was surprised to find out that Tholu bommalata is originally the art of making leather puppets and all the artefacts at the shop were improvisations done to the original craft.

Tholu Bommalata is the shadow puppet theatre tradition from the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is going on from centuries and is one of the most famous forms of shadow theatre. (Andhra Pradesh tourism,  2012)

Shadow theatre is a form of theatre where flat figures usually made of leather are lightly pressed on a translucent screen with a strong source of light from behind.

Tholu Bommalata literally means dance of the leather puppets ( tholu- leather bommalata-puppet dance)

I hope you enjoyed this blog and learnt something new about this beautiful craft. So stay tuned to know more about Tholu Bommalata.


Gatha  (feb 10 2010) leather puppets of Andhra Pradesh. Retrieved from

Andhra Pradesh tourism (17 sep 2012) tholu bommalata. Retrieved from


It’s now been six months since I joined college. Till now, I have inculcated the ability to make creative decisions along with the ability to modify and improvise art and ideas and this is exactly what this module expects from us students. By the end of this module, the module guide expects us to maintain a visual diary where we record each and every step of the process as well as our progress. This will help us to understand how proper documentation has to be done of various data collections, data, visual and material skills.


We were given 5 topics to choose from:

  1. Craft: – craft is any tangible form that is intended to be used for some purpose other than pure decoration. Every craft is indigenous to its place of origin.
  2. Folk Art: Artistry from a place carried on by the people living in a particular region.
  3. Tribal art: Artistry by the people from a tribe.
  4. Bio mimicry: bio mimicry is an approach to plan out sustainable solutions to human problems keeping in mind the nature and its time tested patterns and strategies.
  5. Design movements: Design movement is the movement that sets a trend in an era and is based on following and promotion of it by a group of people.


The 3 topics that I chose for my project are:

  1. Kanchipuram sari
  2. Temple jewellery
  3. Tholu Bommalata

Out of these three topics, I chose tholu bommalata. I was inspired to take and study Thollu Bommalata as my topic because it was only after my visit to Dilli Haat that I realised that I own a lamp shade made using the same craft. But to my amazement, on further data collection I came to know that the lamp shade and all the other wall hangings and other artefacts that I saw at dilli haat were indeed inspirations and modification to the original craft of Thollu Bommalata which was puppetry. Tholu bommalata is the art of shadow puppetry from the state of Andhra Pradesh. Another reason for selecting this craft is because it is near extinction and I want to put in all my effort to promote and encourage this beautiful art form.

Stay tuned to know more about Tholu Bommalata.


I’m pretty sure that each one of you is familiar with the following words:




But I am also certain that many of you mistook them for being synonyms.  Before I became a design student, my views were similar. When randomly a teacher asked in the class to differentiate between these three things, I was confused. I couldn’t really understand how to tell these things apart from each other.

And now that 6 months of my studies have passed, I can proudly say that art, craft and design are indeed different and with my explanation under, I’m sure that you can too:

  1. Art- Art is a form of visual beauty made using the creative application of both mind and skill.
  2. design-design is a work process that gives creative solutions to general problems.
  3. craft- craft is any tangible form that is intended to be used for some purpose other than pure decoration.

I hope you enjoyed the first post. I’ll see you happy readers next week with a new blog.




Look at me, I’m the girl people wish to look like.


But did I always look this way?


Did society make me look this way? Or was it my desperation to be called beautiful?




Now, everyone calls me beautiful.


But why did people call me beautiful only after i shed all my belly fat?



You called me beautiful only after I threw up almost each meal just so I can get the figure that you people desire.



Now I pack my face with makeup to cover all my flaws.



But it is only me who’ll ever know what my real skin looks like.



But still, I paint my face every single day. well, no one really knows how to embrace flaws, isn’t it?



You called me beautiful only when i went under the knife to fix my imperfect nose.



But did you care about the amount of excruciating pain that I had to go through just so you call me that one word- beautiful?



People call my smile alluring.



But no one cared about the blood dripping down my mouth because i got my teeth fixed, just so you can call my smile alluring.




Look at my eyes, they’re pretty right?



But no one knows that these eyes cry their hearts out each and every day.



All I wish is for time to turn back. Because I live in a society where you’ll judge me anyways.





Earlier some of you called me ugly, now you call me slut.



Now all that I wish is for no one to look at me wishing that they looked like me, because trust me, there is nothing more beautiful than the natural you. The you that god has created.



But I know how this society works. And I know that someone would look at me and go…….



I wish I looked like her.




The beauty standards in this world are unreal. Who are you trying to impress? Impress people with your personality and not by the way you look. Always be you, because everyone looks the most beautiful in the way that god has created them to be. Be You. Be-You-Tiful.






Now after the inspiration board, you must be eager to know about the colours used in the tholu bommalata puppets.
The main colour fused is different shades of red and blue, black and yellow. There is a traditional colour scheme as part of the iconography, which is strictly followed. For eg: blue for Rama  and Krishna , yellow for Rishis, etc.

Here is my colour board:

Stay tuned for more such interesting blogs.


Ever heard of an ‘inspiration board’? Let’s understand the words one by one for more clarity.
Now, inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do something creative and board is a medium where we can jot down or draw stuff. Hence, clearly inspiration board is a board where we collect visuals which help us get inspired to do or make something creative.

My inspiration board mainly has images of elements from Tholu Bommalata that caught my attention the most. I want to highlight the following aspects of the craft through my inspiration board:


·        Translucency:

It is fascinating how leather can be made translucent by soaking it in a mix of water and alum and then scraping it to achieve the desired thinness for it to become translucent.

image·        Shadows:
Thollu Bommalata is a famous form of shadow theatre puppetry. A white sheet is hanged and then with the help of a light source from behind, the audience gets to see the shadows and not the actual puppets dancing.


·        Perforations:
Tiny holes are pierced on the body of the puppets and nowadays on all decorative items that are made using this craft. It looks breathtakingly beautiful when light passes through these holes.


·        Use of only lines and dots and movement:
All the puppets and artifacts are made using only lines(straight and curved) and dots.The simplicity of using such simple elements of design adds to it’s aesthetics. Also since they are puppets, their brilliant movements makes the theatre form extremely entertaining to watch.

Here is the image of my inspiration board:





So now, as I promised in my previous blog, I’m going to tell you about the structure of these puppets. The brightly coloured Andhra leather puppets are the largest among various shadow puppet styles. They range from 4-6 feet in height and are quite versatile, having jointed shoulders, elbows, knees and sometimes also the waist, neck and ankles.

These puppets are made of leather. Earlier deer, antelope and goat skins were used to make puppets but nowadays only goat skin is being used. Earlier the figures representing godly characters were being made of deer and antelope skin. The practice is now not followed due to laws against hunting of deers and antelopes. Let’s now study the uses of these leathers

  • Antelope skin- It was reserved for making a limited number of auspicious characters such as gods and epic heroes.
  • Deer skin-It was known for its strength and resistance to rough handling and is therefore used for the figures of warrior Bhima and the ten headed demon king Ravana.
  • Goat skin-All other puppets are made from goat skin since it is cheaper and readily available locally.



Most puppets are made from a single skin, though some require more. At least 4 skins are necessary for Ravana- one for his legs, one for his body and one to make each set of five arms. .


With this I’ll end this blog, but don’t forget to check out the next blog for more such fun facts.



Jiwan, P. (1986). Living dolls- story of Indian puppets. Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of I; First Edition edition (1986)