|Year of Publication
|xiv,208p.;23cm. Includes Bibliographic and Index
Kutiyattam, the only surviving live Sanskrit theatre in the world, was defined by UNESCO as ‘a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’. Full performances—almost always a single act taken from a multi-act Sanskrit play—range from 12 to 150 hours (in daily or nightly segments of several hours each) and display an aesthetic brilliance and dizzying complexity that are almost beyond description. Each such act constitutes an artistic whole with its own conceptual and thematic unity. The Rite of Seeing reflects the work of the Hebrew University Kutiyattam team and of our colleagues from Tubingen, Paris, Groningen, and elsewhere, over many years of annual pilgrimages to Kerala to watch and study this art in action. It offers interpretations of seven classical performances in the light of the actors’ traditional handbooks (Attaprakaram), the Sanskrit base text, and the artists’ oral commentary that emerged naturally in the course of many days of attentive viewing. The essays are accompanied by links to extended performance moments, so that readers can see with their own eyes something of what we have seen in Mulikkulam and Killimangalam. Interpretative essays of this kind, although plentiful in studies of Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Chekhov, have never been attempted for Kutiyattam. The book is thus meant to introduce Kutiyattam to new audiences and to offer pathways for beginning to explore the riches of this unique and still vital tradition.