late 20th century - early 21st century

This shadow puppet of Lord Brahma is from Tholu Bommalaata, puppet tradition of Andhra Pradesh in India. Here, tholu means leather, bommalu means puppets and aata means dance.

Brahma is one of the Holy Trinity in the Hindu Pantheon. Here he is depicted with three visible heads and four arms holding the scriptures in one hand. He also wears a yellow dhoti and a rudraksha necklace. 

Iconographically, he is portrayed with four heads and four arms which hold the kamandalu (pot/bowl), shruka (sacrificial ladle), scriptures(Vedas), and a rosary. His (vahana) vehicle/ride is a swan. 

One of the versatile proponents of this Tholu Bommalaata is Sindhe Chithambara Rao. He is a National award-winning puppeteer who lives in the village of Dharmavaram in Andhra Pradesh. Chithambara Rao’s great-grandfather, Nayanappa Rao, was the first puppeteer in the family. He migrated from Solapur district in Maharashtra to Kolar district in Karnataka and developed his puppetry skills by building relationships with the local puppeteers. From the age of 8, Chithambara Rao trained under his father in the art of shadow puppetry, carefully observing his father, elder sister and brother synchronise the puppets with their storytelling melodies. Today, Chithambara Rao’s troupe Chaya Nataka Brundam has performed in cultural forums across India, Europe, South America, Egypt, and Oman.

To read more about Tholu Bommalaata, click here.

late 20th century - early 21st century
Sindhe Chithambara Rao
Vegetable and Poster colour on animal hide
H: 117.5 cm x W: 35.8 cm
Accession No.