Traditional string and rod puppet theatre from Karnataka in south-west India. The Mysore and Bangalore regions present a curious form of street puppetry manipulated by a combined technique. The puppet measures between 70 and 80 centimetres in height. Two wooden rods are tied to its hands, while strings attached at the top of its head and ears are connected to an iron ring covered with fabric that the puppeteer places on his head, sometimes underneath a turban. Thanks to this, the puppeteer can do without a puppet stage, and faces the puppet that becomes his partner, inventing several scenarios with it.
The puppet’s feet, covered with vividly coloured fabrics fastened with jewels or little bells, touch the ground like those of the puppeteer who dances and speaks with it. This technique allows for quite spectacular effects. The puppet can put on make-up, dress or undress itself or light a torch. The puppeteer uses his knee to push the heavier puppets, thus creating more forceful movements suggesting tension between himself and the wooden actor. The repertoire draws on folk stories, proverbs, farces and songs known to all.
Today, there are troupes and traditional families performing salaki gombeyata, some of whom are master puppeteers recognized locally and sometimes nationally for their contribution to the art of puppetry.