Sloka 83. N.S. Chapter 23

3 Yathaa janthu: svabhaavam svam
Thalsvabhaavam hi bhajathae
Veshena varnnakaischaiva
Chaaditha: purushasthadhaa
Parabhaavam prakuruthae
Yasya vesham samaashritha:

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In Bharathanaatyam, Mohiniyaattam and Kuchipudi that we see today, the individual performer is not depicting any specific character. He/she represents a Narthaki or Narthaka. Even in such styles, the basic principles mentioned in the Naatyasaastra would be useful. Bharathamuni does not negate the changes likely to come in due to change in regions and time (important slokas – 40, 41, 48 & 99). But, it is emphasized that no component of Aaharya should disturb the performer or performance ((important slokas – 43, 47 to 67).

The 3 essential components necessary for Aahaaryaabhinya are, ‘Ezhuth’ (applying lines and colours), ‘Udayaada’ (costumes) & ‘Aabharanam’(ornaments). ‘Ezhuth’ must be observed under two sections –

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'Mukhathezhuth’ (applying lines and colours on the face).
Meyyezhuth’ (applying lines and colours on parts, other than the face, of a human body).

These two together are referred to as ‘Amgarachana’ in the Naatyasaastra. Both can be seen in Picture 1.

As the popular saying goes ‘Face is the mirror of mind’, it could be ascertained that the parameters like Attractiveness, Sculptural features, Character features etc. which are needed for acting techniques can be enhanced by Mukhathezhuth (Face makeup).

The stylized forms of Bhaaratheeya-Naatyas have enormous number of varieties of Mukhathezhuth. Among those known in Kerala itself, there are several types based on specific concepts and regional variations. In general, they can be divided into two:-

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Those which are very similar to human faces (Human types); yet with certain addendums to accentuate attractiveness. Eg. Mohiniyaattam, Bharathanaatyam, Kuchipudi, Nangiyarkoothu and the sober females/males (in the Minukku type) in Koodiyaattam, Krishnanaattam, Kathakali etc. The emphasis on colours and lines would vary among the different styles. Eg. More intense in the facial makeup as in Kathakali. 

Different types that have no similarity to natural human faces (Non-human types) – Eg. Theyyam, Mudiyettu, Theeyyaattu, Koodiyaattam, Krishnanaattam, Kathakali etc.


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