Kathakali-the classical dance of Kerala

A dancer performing in the Kathakali tradition, a classical story-play style of Southern India which relies on mudras, or gestures, rather than speech to relay its stories, and colours to denote its character types. The dancer’s face is painted green – colour of heroic, kingly, and divine types – and he wears the sacred mark of Vishnu the Preserver on his forehead.

The figure represents Krishna, the Vedic Hindu god and principle of love who came into the world to combat evil, a story that is told in the Mahabharata epic. As a young man of outstanding beauty and great musical prowess on the flute, Krishna caused all the young dairy-maids to fall hopelessly in love with him. He taught that divinity could be found within the self through the gradual intensification of physical love until its eventual entry, or shift, into the transcendent realm of cosmic and eternal creative energy. In Tantric Buddhism, Krishna the lover, is viewed as being a form assumed by the Great Goddess – Lalita. As an adult, Krishna’s most significant advice is that ‘all is illusion, including war and death’.