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|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 either Terukuttu (Tamil:தெருக்கூத்து) or Kattaikkuttu. The terms Terukkuttu and Kattaikkuttu are often used interchangeably in modern times; however, historically the two terms appear to have distinguished, at least in certain villages, between two different kinds of performance: while Terukkuttu referred to mobile performances in a procession, Kattaikkuttu denotes overnight, narrative performances at a fixed performance space. Koothu as a form of entertainment reached its peak hundreds of years ago in Tamil Nadu, as mentioned in the Sangam texts about the development of iyal (literature), isai (music) and natagam (drama). Going beyond just a means of entertainment, koothu 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 other classical epics. There are traditionally no dialogues, instead only songs. Artists are trained to sing in their own voice and in a high pitch to reach the entire crowd, since no amplification technology is used. The artists are dressed up with complex heavy costumes and have a very bright elaborated makeup. They put on towering head dresses, sparkling shoulder plates and wide colorful skirts. Traditionally this theater form has been predominately male, though in modern times more females have been included (e.g., Girl's theater at the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam).
Types of koothu includes Nattu Koothu, Kuravai Koothu, and Valli Koorhu, which are about the state and culture of different peoples in Tamil country; Samaya Koothu showcase religious topics, while Porkaala Koothu, Pei Koothu, Thunangai Koothu are focused on the 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 years past there were no formal training institutions, schools or nattuvanar (teacher) for koothu. Now to encourage the dying art there are some workshops for koothu called koothu pattarai, and also some dedicated schools (e.g., Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam).
It is very popular among the rural areas and has remained relatively unchanged even in modern times. Koothu eventually spread out from Tamil Nadu intomost of south India, particularly Karnatakka and Kerala.
In Fiji - this Therukootu is known as Tirikutu.
- 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.