‘Tholu Bommalata’-Handicrafts from Andhra Pradesh
The art of making Lampshades has its origin in Leather puppetry. This form of art popularly known as ‘Tholu Bommalata’ in Telugu is one of the earliest performing arts. Dating back to the 3rd century B.C. and reaching its pinnacle during the Vijayanagar Empire, these puppets are folk in style, conception and execution. The figures are made of goat leather. The advent of other modes of entertainment caused a decline in partronage of this art. Puppeteers have channeled this art into the making of small vases, partition screens and wall decoratives and lampshades. This helped expand the market, without disturbing the basic traditional character. The perforation executed on the coloured leather gives an appearance of rich ornamentation against the background of light. The use of light to depict and narrate epics on screen and puppets modelled representing mythological characters created artistically out of leather have contrivuted to the uniqueness of these lampshades. The creators of these puppets have discovered lamplshades on leather to be the best medium to not only keep their traditions and art alive but also serve as a source of livehood. Though the medium of expression has changed, the form continues to be the same. The beautiful and colourful spectrum of lampshades depicting episodes from folklore, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Krishna leela and a host of other characters continue to a narrative form.