The Leather Puppet Painting of Andhra Pradesh Called Tholu Bommalata

Full of serenity and positivity, the traditional Indian art and craft is more about culture and religion. One such art form is Tholu Bommalata, where Tholu means leather and Bommalata means dance. It is commonly known as the leather puppet painting of Andhra Pradesh.

About Leather Puppets

The concept of leather puppets is close to the Indian folk form of shadow puppetry. Made of translucent goatskin and painted attractively, the leather puppets add visual appeal to your home, office, auditorium, studio, theater, or hotel decor.


The leather puppets are usually crafted from the goat hide. The artists clean and dry the skin for around a fortnight to make it translucent and receptive to colors. Next, they cut out the puppets of desired shapes and sizes. They then slash apart the joints at the elbow, hip, and shoulder. Now, they tie back the two joint pieces with the help of strings. This facilitates free joint movement. The artists then perforate the puppets to give the jewel effect. Finally, they color the puppets with vegetable dyes.


These puppets especially fascinate the kids. Tholu Bommalata takes a meaningful shape when it relates a fable, folk tale, or an epic. The themes and the designs dominating this form of puppetry are largely drawn from the Hindu religious sources, like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Mythological figures, warriors, horses, elephants, camels, and fish are some other popular figures. Overall, this art form is an interesting amalgamation of music, painting, and storytelling.


The beautifully etched Tholu Bommalata puppets are widely used for screens or wall decorations to liven up the space. The art form has undergone several innovations to form some variants of the traditional puppets. The creative shapes are strung together with the beads for wall and door hangings. The technique is also used to create beautiful and unique lampshades. In fact, lampshades are the highest selling product from the range.

The Rescue

The traditional South Indian motifs Tholu Bommalata ooze out immense creativity highlighting the fact that this folk art is not a mere craft tradition. It is India’s legacy as well. However, due to the huge efforts involved, thin margins, and lack of promotion, this art form is fast receding. We need to come together and prevent this indigenous craft from fading into the realms of the forgotten. Art lovers can use these as décor. Similarly, the promoters & sellers should bring them on the selling platform to provide the financial benefit these talented but deprived artists deserve.

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