Costumes and Makeup

The very attractive features of theyyatam are its colorful costumes. The make up involves very accurate face painting of different styles and body decoration. The hierarchy of Gods, Goddesses, heroes, demons, spirits and other mythical beings is personified in the plays. Although there is no fundamental difference in the costumes and make up of these theyyams, each category of theyyams varies from the other categories in accordance with the main characteristics. The typical waist dress of heroes is found in Kathivanur Veeran which is made out of splices of bamboos and covered by red cloth. The theyyams like Theechamundi, Pottan Theyyam and Uchitta the waist dress is woven out of coconut leaves as they leap in to the fire. Above the waist dress the naked body is painted with different native colours. The particular system of painting the body of a theyyam differs from that of other theyyams. The body of Velltam is usually smeared with a paste made from rice and turmeric. There are certain systems adopted for painting the faces of the players. The head dress or ‘Mudi’ also differ from each theyyam. These are made out of bamboo splices and wooden planks which are covered with flowers and coconut leaves. In certain cases peacock feathers are also used. The theyyam of Kshethrapalan and a few Bhagavathies use nearly fifty to sixty feet high long crowns made out of areca nut trees and bamboo splices. These crowns are supported by long bamboos which are held by several helpers to keep the balance when placed upon the head of the player. According to the local customs, these long crowns are either covered with colored cloth or thatched with coconut leaves. Some theyyams of Bhagavathies wear a silver diadem of small serpent’s head crowned with red flowers. A huge golden collar elaborately carved of wood and set with fancy jewels is worn in some items. The female deities wear ornaments and a wooden breast. In a few theyyams like Pottan Theyyam mask made out of the leaf sheaths of areca nut tree and wooden planks are used. The breast of Goddesses are generally covered with glittering ornaments and make up known as ‘Ezhutharam’ (seven models). All male and female theyyam wear bangles called ‘Katakam’ and Chutakam and small anklets on the feet. In the case of Bhagavathies in Roudra Mood (fearful appearance) torches are appended to the waist and the crown produces a terrible appearances.