The earliest mention of the Chakkyar and his art is supposed to have been in the Silappadikaram where a Chakkyar from Parayur near Tiruvancikulam (where the epic is supposed to have been composed) is mentioned to have performed his art for the benefit of Senguttuvan, then the Perumal. Whether this art was actually Chakkyar Kuttu or something else is a debatable question. There is a section of belief that this dance was nothing else but "a sort of pure dance representing the forceful Tandava dance of Shiva and the graceful Lalita dance of Parvati, and has nothing to do with the staging of Sanskrit plays." But the consensus of opinion appears to accept the fact that there were Chakkyars performing their art in the Silappadikaram era. A later inscription of the 10th to 12th centuries (Chola) mentions "the Chakkyar as an actor performing in the South India temples."
(Kanak Rele, chapter 'History of Kerala Its Theatrical Arts and Mohiniattam' in 'Mohiniattam: The Lyrical Dance')

Vocalist DK Pattammal was the first Brahmin woman to take to the stage when it was considered a taboo.

There are 2 singers in Kathakali to provide the background music. The chief of them is called ponnani and the other is called sankidi. While they sing, they themselves play on the Chengila and Elatalam. One of them holds the Chengila and the other, the Elatalam.
(G Venu, 'Abhinaya in Kathakali,' Nartanam -Vol 1, #3, July Sept 2001)


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