An Endless Collection

Leather Puppets

Leather puppets are the hallmark of Andhra Pradesh art and crafts. This form of craft is inextricably linked to the state’s traditional folk and cultural expression, called Leather puppetry. Also known as tollubommalu or tollubommalatta, this form of shadow-puppet theatre is popular in several regions of Andhra Pradesh. Tollu means leather in Telugu and bommalu means dolls. This form of art is believed to have originated in 200 BC under the rule of the Satvahana dynasty.

The leather puppets are obtained from pieces of hide or stiff parchment, and these are colored and bigger in size, when compared to similar craft work from other parts of the country. Themes from Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata dominate this form of puppetry, which is also considered an effective medium of communication. Places like Nimmalakunta in Ananthapur district, Narsaraopet in Guntur district and D.C. Palle in Nellore district are considered as the main centers of leather puppet industry in Andhra Pradesh. In Nimmalakunta,artisans practice this as a hereditary craft. The community engaged in this form of craft is mostly the Marathi Balija.