|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
|Stylistic origins||Ancient Tamil music, Dance forms of Tamil Nadu|
|Cultural origins||200 BCE - 200 CE Ancient Tamil country|
|Typical instruments||Miruthangam - Cymbal - Vocal|
Koothu (Tamil: கூத்து), and alternatively spelt as kuttu, means dance or performance in Tamil, it is a folk art originated from the early Tamil country. But more precisely Koothu refers to Therukoothu (Tamil:தெருக்கூத்து) that is street dance or street play or street drama since it will be performed in the village squares. At early age the art of entertainment reached its peak in Tamil country. Mentioned in the Sangam literatures about the development of iyal (literature), isai (music) and natagam (drama). More than entertainment, therukoothu educates the rural people about religion and their history.
Koothu is an informal dance structure, the performances generally depict scenes from ancient epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Tamil classical epics. There will be no dialogues instead only songs. Artists are trained to sing in their own voice and in a high pitch to reach entire crowd, since no technology available that time. The artists dressed up with complex heavy costumes and have a very bright elaborated makeup. They put on high towering head dress, sparkling shoulder plates and wide colorful skirts. Usually the whole trope will be played by males, even female characters also be performed by males.
Types of koothu includes Nattu Koothu, Kuravai Koothu, and Valli Koorhu, which are of about the state and culture of different peoples in Tamil country; Samaya Koothu showcasing religious topics, Porkaala Koothu, Pei Koothu, Thunangai Koothu about martial arts and war of the country. Another important art form viz, Chakyar koothu is very popular in Kerala. There is mention of this koothu in Silapathikaram.
In early stage there was no proper institution or nattuvanar (teacher) for koothu. Now to encourage the dying art there are some workshops for koothu called koothu pattarai.
It is very popular among the rural areas and through ages it stand without any modern trace. But got spread out into most of south India, the early Tamil country now the modern day Karnatakka, Kerala.
Avatharam a Tamil movie which well portrays about the art.
- Bhargava, Gopal K.; Shankarlal C. Bhatt (2006). Land and people of Indian states and union territories. 25. Tamil Nadu. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications. ISBN 81-7835-381-4.