by Martha Bush Ashton
Folk culture, the perennial substratum of the sophisticated metropolitan culture, takes many lively and colorful forms. This is particularly true in India. This book is a study of one such expression of the folk culture obtained in South kanara, India. It is not one of those dry academic studies usually made by foreign scholars. For the authors, the book has been a passionate involvement in a traditional art form YAKSHGANA. The American authors have put down their experience with the hope that the reader will enjoy an imaginary trip to South kanara, a walk through the fields and a thrilling night of Yakshagana.
In a lively style, this book brings home to the readers almost everything about this particular form of dance-drama, the music, dance, costumes and make-up and impromptu dialogue as well as its literature on which the dramatic themes are based, the rituals performed before, during, and after the drama, the organization of a troupe, the existing troupes, and the training of the performers.
With nineteen four-colour reproductions, twenty-three black-and-white illustrations and eighteen line drawings, YAKSHAGANA has something to offer to each of its readers. For those trained in music there is the style of singing rhythms peculiar to Yakshagana. And those who are learned in poetry, religious epics and legends can revel in the beauty of the poetry, and those who have a sense of colour and design can be enchanted by the costumes and make-up. The readers will vicariously experience the intricate steps of the dance, not to be seen in any other Indian dance forms, yet they are characteristically Indian.
Yakshagana, as experienced by the authors, reveals the deeper meanings of the Indian epics and legends through the extempore dialogue of the performers. Their descriptions of the risqu humour of the buffoon and his comic movements come alive before the readers.
Here is appoint of departure for more study in new directions, valuable to the students of arts and folk culture, and yet tempting the general readers with its rich fare of aesthetic and intellectual experiences.
YAKSHAGANA is tempting to the booklovers in many other ways: The subject of the book has been presented and decorated one of the famous Indian artists- K.K. Hebbar, and introduced by C. Sivaramamurti, a noted historian and archaeologist whose deep knowledge in iconography has made rich contributions to the study and understanding of the ancient and medieval visual arts in this country.
About The Author:
Martha Bush Ashton (b. May 4, 1935), the senior author, first came to India on a Fulbright-Hats Graduate Fellowship during 1968-71 to study this form of YAKSHAGANA. After receiving her Ph.D. from Michigan State University of Chicago, and gave slide-lecture and dance demonstrations of YAKSHAGANA in India, Australia and the U.S.A. At present she is a Senior Institute of Indian Studies.
Bruce Christie (b. September 22, 1934), the co-author, has shared the senior authors interest in Indian culture. He came to India for scientific research and study of India performing arts. At present he is a senior pathologist at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downey, California.
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