Shadow Puppets in Leather

The shadow play or puppet show with leather figures is an art form of ancient times. In the ancient times puppet shows were conducted for the entertainment by projecting the shadows of these puppets on to a cloth screen. Goat or sheep leather is the main raw material and skin is first stretched tight and is nailed at the corners to keep it intact in the shape. The puppet figure is then traced on the leather and cut out with a very fine chisel. Puppets have all the possible ornaments. Ornaments and clothing are designed by drilling different kinds of holes in the skin.

The colours used to paint the leather are obtained from vegetable and mineral sources. To prevent the puppets from twisting a thin strip of smoothened bamboo is fixed firmly and vertically beside the middle on either side. There are puppets for birds, trees, animals and even the sea counter parts.

Andhra Pradesh has several families of traditional puppeteers called tolu bommalata. Orissa.