Gombe Aata (play of dolls or Puppet show) is a unique form of art found in Karnataka. Gombe Aata involves story telling using characters made from dolls, whose performance is controlled by humans in the background using invisible threads.
The puppets: Chennapatana town in Karnataka is popular for making dolls or puppets used in Gombe aata. Puppets represent humans in miniature form and are crafted as per needs of a character. Made of wood and dressed with silk cloths, puppets are core components of Gombe Aata. Puppets will have multiple transparent strings attached to key body parts. These strings are invisible from a distance and help the handlers control puppet movements during a show.
The stage: Puppetry show is performed on a stage featuring the puppets in the front, with provision for puppet controllers (handlers or puppeteers) to sit either above or behind the stage. Puppeteers sit in a way invisible to the audience and manipulate movements of the puppets to aid in storytelling.
The story: Puppetry show usually enacts a mini plot from epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata or other puranas/ancient stories.
Performance: A gombe aata performance includes music and narration in the background, with puppets moving around on stage, as controlled by puppeteers. Puppets perform actions such as hugging, bending, folding their hands and so on.
Where can you witness Gombe Aata:
Gombe Aata is usually part of various festivals such as Bengaluru Habba and Mysuru Dasara celebrations.