Kathakali costume box

This object is associated with the performance art of Kathakali which originated and is practiced in the southern Indian state of Kerala. This painted wooden chest with brass embellishments was most probably used to store elements of the costume of a Kathakali dancer, and is similar to other jewellery boxes from the region.Kathakali, the traditional dance-drama from Kerala is one of India’s best-known performing arts. It became associated with the royalty of Kerala, and as such is regarded as one of the finest forms of performing art in the region. It is characterized by its elaborate make-up and costumes consisting of several layers of clothing, ornate headdresses and accessories like gold necklaces, bracelets, armlets, chestplates and anklets. Under royal patronage before the 19th century, it is possible that the jewellery could have been made of real gold and gemstones and thus stored in boxes such as this one.Kathakali is an important part of the heritage of the Malayalee community – the second-largest ethnic community amongst Indians in Singapore. In recent times Kathakali has become increasingly representative of Indian culture and performing arts in general.

19th century
Kerala, India
Object size: part 2 8.0 x 3.0 x 0.3 cm, Object size: part 1 54.0 x 102.0 x 40.0 cm
Accession No.
Wood, pigments, metal
Collection of
Indian Heritage Centre