Tayyam Head Gear of Kerala

Kiritams, the expressive headgears worn by Kathakali dancers, is designed for the part played by the dancers";" pacha (green) is for the benevolent and noble while kathi (knife) symbolises evil and demon-like characters. Each headgear comprises two coronets superimposed with two bud shaped domes, a large circular disc behind it which is supported with a halo between the coronet and the disc. The headgear is carved out of wood with each row decorated with closely knit silver beads on a red scarlet base. Glass pieces fixed on aluminium foils, large glass flower petals and small silver beads are in the centre.

The top of the dome has rows of concentric circles decorated with pieces of jewellery, vines of golden stems and leaves, green buds, grapes with peacock feather stems, and a golden circle of foils converging on a round piece of glass in the centre and represents a fully blossomed flower.

The players who adorn these headgear have beards of three colours";" red bearded characters are vicious and vile, white bearded characters are strong, gentle, devoted, and loyal (like Hanuman) while the black bearded characters are the destroyers (like Kali), and include hunters and the like. The artists with the red and black beards have large head-gears with decorations akin to the previous headgear except that the edge of the disc is decorated with woolen tufts of the same colour as that of the beard, the base of the peacock stem is rolled into oval shaped flowers and the vines are replaced by the grapes fixed on the disc. Hanuman's head-gear is much like a Chinese hat with two domes ending in a bud-like finial adorned with tassels. The rest is made of cane with the outer surface covered in white flannel. Long artificial locks also float down.

The head-gear of sages or rishis comprises two domes, the lower of which is the larger. The usual decoration along with twisted coils and rudrakshamala (rosary of several faceted seeds) encircles the dome. The hunter's head-gear is much like an expanding lotus with the cane frame covering almost half the height. This is covered with a dark coloured cloth decorated with silver petals resembling the screw-pine blossoms.

Krishna has a special conical hemispherical shaped dome head-gear with a woolen garland of different colours encircling its tip. The eyes of peacock feathers are fixed over this to create the form of an expanding lotus. An oval piece of blue or black cover duly ornamented hangs behind the coronet.