Makeup (Aahaaryam & Mukhathezhuth)

Dr. C.P. Unnikrishnan

The Significance Of ‘Aahaaryam’

In the Bhartheeya Naatya styles, in general, there are four methods of acting (Chathurvidha abhinaya – Vaachika, Aamgika, Saatvika, Aahaarya). One who performs Naatya (be it Nruttha, Nruthya or Naataka) need to have a ‘difference’ from the common people. Why is it needed? The most logical answer is that ‘it is to ensure attraction’. But, the concept of ‘Aahaarya’ has much more than just being a means to ensure attraction. The Chapter 23 (208 slokas) of Bharata’s Naatyasaastra explains it clearly in necessary detail. Face Makeup, costumes, ornaments, stage props, weapons etc. are included in this chapter. The details have been given to present various types of ‘Characters’, according to their region and time (of existence). Let us examine three important slokas which speak of the significance of Aahaarya.

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If characters of different nature are prepared with Veshavidhaanam (Face makeup, Costumes and Ornaments), it will not be difficult to express their further process of acting, using techniques like Amgikaabhinaya.

Sloka 2. N.S. Chapter 23

Bharatha’s Naatyasaastra says:

1 Naanaavasthaa:prakruthaya:
Poorvvam naipathyasaadhithaa:

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Using the colour pigments meant for vesha (character attire), one must cover the colour of oneself. Whichever character’s shape is assumed, the total appearance (shape) must depict that character

Sloka 82. N.S. Chapter 23

2 Swavarnnamaathmanashcchaadyam
Aakruthisthasya karthavyaa
Yasya prakruthiraasthithaa.

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When Jeeva (Life principle) discards its nature and enters another body, it assumes the nature of that body. Similarly, the person concealed by costumes, ornaments and colours must expose the nature of that character which he/she has assumed.


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