The monograph, which is based on a lecture that Vatsyayan, a former IGNCA chairperson, gave in Thripunithura in 1988, has been commended by many as remarkably rich in the variety of art forms it covers and the directions for future research it offers in the area.
The author revisits these art forms, often termed as ‘little’ and ‘great’ traditions, and shows how classical art forms such as Kathakali and Krishnanattam serve as a bridge between them.
The book covers a wide spectrum of arts of Kerala ranging from the tribal to the classical, points out Omchery NN Pillai, a city-based Malayalam playwright.
‘The study looks around, backward and forward the ideal function of an explorative pilgrimage the author had undertaken,’ says the nonagenarian.
Sanskrit scholar K G Paulose has edited the book, which contains a 14-page glossary.
The scholar explains the distinction between the folksy Mudiyettu dance-drama of Kerala, juxtaposing its techniques with the highly-sophisticated 2,000 year old Koodiyattam theatre. ‘The aesthetics of both forms, nonetheless, can be categorised as intangible heritage,’ says Paulose, a former vice-chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam, the state’s premier performing-art institution.
A former Rajya Sabha MP, 88 year-old Vatysayan, who has been a Unesco Executive Board member and president of India International Centre, says it is ‘gratifying’ to see one of her old works now finding a contemporary set of readers.