Kutiyattam proclaimed as "Masterpiece of the Oral and
Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO!!!
by Sudha Gopalakrishnan

May 2001

Kutiyattam, the Sanskrit theatre tradition of Kerala has been proclaimed as "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. It is for the first time that select art forms have been given this recognition as part of its effort to safeguard expressions of oral heritage and traditional culture, which are in danger of disappearing due to the effects of globalisation. UNESCO has until now only recognised built heritage such as monuments, sites of exceptional value and landscape as part of heritage.

Information regarding the selection was received by Dr. Sudha Gopalakrishnan, Vice President, Margi, Thiruvananthapuram, who had coordinated the preparation of the candidature file. UNESCO admits such proposals from Government and non-governmental organisations and Margi's ccandidature for Kutiyattam was fielded to UNESCO as India's by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. The video documentation for this candidature was done by the eminent film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Today there are three major institutions in Kerala which are engaged in the preservation of Kutiyattam-these are Kerala Kalamandalam, Margi and Ammannur Gurukulam.

Ammannur Madhava Chakyar is the greatest living performer - preceptor of the art form.

Contact: sudhagopal79@hotmail.com