This book, perhaps the first illustrated dictionary on the subject, is a compilation of the terms used in Kathakali. The author has used the Hastalakshana Deepika as his source, but has also made use, where relevant of the Natya Shastra. He has also included terms that have come lately into accepted usage.
The dictionary attempts as wide as wide a coverage as would be relevant and useful to students, scholars and enthusiasts of the art for whom it is chiefly intended. Explanations are simple and are, where necessary, clearly illustrated. Head-words recur in the entry with diacritical marks to help correct pronunciation.
About the Author
M. P. S. Menon was born in Ramanathukara near Calicut in 1896 and was educated at the Zamorin's
College, Calicut and St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. He is well known in the field of art and literature and has written several books and articles on art, especially on Kathakali and music. Among his publication are Kathakali Rangam, Kathakali Attaprakaram (in 3 volumes) and a historical novel Subedar Nair, all in Malayalam. In 1972 he moved to Kodungallur where he has lived since.
Almost all words in the dictionary are nouns. Apart from single words, it was necessary to included certain compound words and expressions, e.g., Kotti maruka, Vattamittu kalasham etc., which are commonly used by Kathakali artistes.
To avoid constant cross-reference, English equivalents of technical terms, when they occur in the explanations, have been given in brackets. However, for a deeper understanding the serious student is advised to refer back to these terms where they occur as headwords, tedious though the procedure may be.
Hastalakshana Deepika, the authoritative source recognised by Kathakali and Kutiyattam artistes, has been used fro indicating the meanings of Mudras. In current practice, and in the styles typical of North and South Kerala there are a few deviations from this book; these have also been considered and indicated.
Most of the terms are common all over Kerala; some that are used only in south Kerala (former Travancore State) are indicated by the letters (SK), and those peculiar to North Kerala (former Malabar and cochin States) by the letters (NK). In the case of current or modern practice, this is indicated by (Mod). Kutiyattam terms have been marked (Ku), and those few terms from the Natya Shastra in common use have been marked (NS).
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