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Mohiniyattamalso spelled Mohiniattam Malayalam: Mohiniyattam’s roots, like all classical Indian dances, are in the Natya Shastra — the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text on performance arts. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam includes music in the Carnatic style, singing and acting a play through the dance, where the recitation may be either by a separate vocalist or the dancer herself. The song is typically in Malayalam-Sanskrit hybrid called Manipravalam.

The earliest mention of the word is found in the 16th-century legal text Vyavaharamalabut the likely roots of the dance are older. Mohiniyattam, also referred to malagalam Mohini-attam, is derived from ” Mohini ” — a famous female avatar shastar the Hindu god Vishnu in Indian mythology.

Mohini refers to a “divine enchantress, supreme seductress”. She appears in Hindu mythologies during a battle between Devas good and Asuras evilafter the evil had won control of Amrita nectar of immortality. Mohini after gaining the Amrita gives it to the good instead, depriving the evil from gaining shastta.

The details of the Mohini story varies by the Purana and region, but she is ehastra an enchantress avatar of the supreme in Vaishnavism. Aattam is a Malayalam language word, and means rhythmic motion or dance. Mohiniyattam is a classical Indian dance, [14] which by definition traces its repertoire to the foundational text Natya Shastra.

According to Reginald Massey, Mohiniyattam’s history is unclear. The earliest evidence of Mohiniyattam, shastta a Mohiniyattam-like dance tradition is found in temple sculpture of Kerala.

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The 11th century Vishnu temple at Trikodithanam, and the Kidangur Subramanya temple, have several sculptures of female dancers in Mohiniyattam pose. The 16th century Shastraa by Nambootiri contains the first known mention of the term Mohiniyattam, in the context of a payment to be made to a Mohiniyattam dancer.

In the 18th and 19th century, Mohiniyattam grew as dance arts received patronage of competing princely states. In particular, the early 19th century sponsorship and building of a joint Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam team of rdkha by the Hindu king, poet and music composer Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma contributed to the growth and systematization of modern Mohiniyattam.

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With the spread of colonial British rule in the 19th century India, all classical dance forms of India were ridiculed and discouraged, leading to their severely decline. The seductive gestures and facial expressions during temple dances were caricatured in The Wrongs of Indian Womanhoodpublished at the start of the 20th century, as evidence of “harlots, debased erotic culture, slavery to idols and priests” tradition, and Christian missionaries demanded that this must be stopped, launching the “anti-dance movement” or “anti-nautch movement” in According to Justine Lemos, the conventional stereotype has been to label the temple dancers as prostitutes and that Mohiniyattam was banned by the Maharaja under pressure from the British rule and his citizens, but an examination of historical evidence suggests that neither did any law or proclamation ban Mohiniyattam nor is there any evidence that dancing girls of Mohiniyattam were devadasis, temple prostitutes or even menial servants of the temple.


Ina new law clarified that voluntary dance was permitted, but the dancers should ,ai be paid. This led to protests, public riots and demands by dancers that performance art is a form of economic activity and religious freedom, that Mohiniyattam artists should be paid by the state or the audience, but the state did not pay them.

Some women continued to dance Mohiniyattam in Hindu temples, regardless of the historic politics during the s. The ridicule and bans enacted during the British colonial era contributed to nationalist sentiments, and impacted all Hindu performance arts including Mohiniyattam.

It too was revived and reconstructed, particularly in the s by the nationalist Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menonwho sjastra repeal the ban on temple dancing in Kerala, as well as established the Kerala Rekhaa dance school and encouraged Mohiniattam studies, training and practice.

Other significant champions of Mohiniyattam in the 20th century have been Mukundraja, Krishna Panicker, Thankamony, as well as the guru and dancer Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma.

Mohiniyattam is a lasya subgenre of dance, performed in the Kaisiki vritti graceful styleas malahalam in ancient Indian performance arts texts such as the Natya Shastra. The basic posture of Mohiniyattam is parted feet, knees bent outwards, an erect upper torso, gentle 8-shape side to side swaying of body along with hips Ati Bhanga. The basic dance units in Mohiniattam are known as atavus or atavukaland these are grouped into four: TaganamJaganamRdkha and Sammisram. The repertoire sequence of Mohiniyattam is similar to that of Bharatanatyam, and contains seven items that are performed to a structure described in classical dance texts: Cholkettu invocation, but starts with offering reverence to a goddess Bhagavati and ends with a prayer to ShivaJatisvaram or more precisely SwarajetiVarnam a play wherein she embeds a mimicry for distraction while communicating the underlying story or messageSshastra songTillana dancer’s interpretation of melody the musician createShlokam and Saptam.

The costume includes plain white or off-white such as ivory or cream colored sari embroidered with bright golden or gold laced colored brocade similar to a ceremonial Kasavu saree.

The dancer wears relatively simple jewelry and no masks, in contrast to the other major classical dance of Kerala called Kathakali. Her jewelry typically includes items on fingers, wrists, neck and ears which may have bells.

The face shzstra is natural, but lips are brilliant red, she has the Hindu tikka Gobi on her forehead and her eyes are lined to help prominently highlight the eye movements during the dance. Her hairdo is gathered and tied into a smooth tight round chignon on one side of her head typically left and the bun then ringed with fragrant flowers typically jasmine mulla.


The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves various rhythms. There are numerous compositions for a Mohiniyattam repertoire, most of whose lyrics are in Manipravalam malayalwm, a mixture of SanskritTamil and Malayalam. The musical instruments usually used in Mohiniyattam are Mridangam or Madhalam barrel drumIdakka hour glass drumflute, Veena, and Kuzhitalam cymbals.

The ragas melody are rendered in the sopana steps style, which is a slow melodic style with roots in the Natya Shastra. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the film, see Mohiniyaattam film. Mythology folklore Indian epic poetry Vedic mythology Buddhist mythology.

Music and performing arts.


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