Natyashastra (English)

by Bharata-muni | 1951 | 240,273 words | ISBN-13: 9789385005831

The English translation of the Natyashastra, a Sanskrit work on drama, performing arts, theater, dance, music and various other topics. The word natyashastra also refers to a global category of literature encompassing this ancient Indian tradition of dramatic performance. The authorship of this work dates back to as far as at least the 1st millenn...

Chapter XXIII - Costumes and Make-up (nepathya)

Necessity of the Costumes and Make-up

1. I shall speak in due order, O Brahmins, about the Costumes and Make-up; for the entire production [of a play] depends on these.

2. The Extraneous Representation (āhāryābhinaya) deals with the rules of the Costumes and Make-up (nepathya). Anyone who wishes for the success of a dramatic production should pay attention to these.

3. Different types[1] of the dramatis personae indicated first by their Costumes and Make-up, accomplish the representation without much effort, by means of Gestures and the like.

Four kinds of Costumes and Make-up

4. Costumes and Make-up are of four kinds: model work (pusta), decoration (alaṃkāra), painting the limbs (aṅgaracanā) and [the use of] living creatures (sañjīva).

Four kinds of model work

5. [Of these] the model work is of three kinds and of various forms. They are: the Joined Object (sandhima), the Indicating Object (vyājima) and Moving Object (ceṣṭima).

6. The model work which is made up or mat, cloth, skin and the like, is called the Joined Object (sandhima)[2].

7. That which is made by means of a mechanical device (yantra) is called an Indicating Object (vyājima)[3] and that which can be made to move, is called a Moving Object (ceṣṭima).[4]

8. Hills, carriages, lofty palaces, shields, armours, banner-staffs and elephants[5] which are constructed for use in a dramatic performance are called model works.


9. Decorations (alaṃkāra) are known as attaching differently flower-garlands, ornaments and drapery after observing the rules relating to different parts of the [human] body.


10. Garlands are of five kinds: encircling (veṣṭita), spread-up (vitata), grouped (saṃghātya), knotted (granthima), and hung-down (pralambita).

Four kinds of ornament

11. Ornaments of the body are known by the wise to be of the four kinds: that to be fixed by piercing the limbs (āvedhya), that to be tied up (bandhanīya), that to be worn (prakṣepya), and that to be put round (āropya).

Piercing ornaments

12. [Of these, the ornaments] to be fixed by piercing the limbs are ear-ornaments such as ear-rings (kuṇḍala).

Tied-up ornaments

And those to be tied-up (bandhanīya) are to be represented by the girdles (śroṇī-sūtra) and the Aṅgada (arm-band).[6]

Worn ornaments

13. The ornaments to be worn (prakṣepya) are the anklets (nūpura) as well as the wearing apparels.

Put-round ornaments

And those [ornaments] to be put round (āropya) are the golden neck-chain (hema-sūtra) and necklaces (hāra) of different kinds.

Ornament according to one’s habitation and tribal origin

14. I shall now speak of the varieties of ornaments of men and women according to their habitation and tribal origin.

Ornament for males:

Head ornaments

15. The crest-jewel (cūḍāmaṇi)[7] and the crown (mukuṭa)[8] are called ornaments of the head.

Ear ornaments

And the ear-ring (kuṇḍala),[9] Mocaka (ear-pendant)[10] and ear-top (kīla) are ornaments of the ears.

Neck ornaments

16. The strings of pearl (muktāvalī) the Harṣaka[11] and the [gold] thread (sūtra)[12] are ornaments of the neck.

Finger ornaments

And the Kaṭaka[13] and the finger-ring (aṅgulīya-mudra)[14] are ornaments of the finger.

Ornament of the forearm

17. The Hastavi[15] and the Valaya[16] are the ornaments of the fore-arm (bāhu-nālī).

Wrist ornaments

And the bracelet (rucika)[17] and the Cūlikā[18] are ornaments of the wrist.

Ornaments above the elbow

18. The Keyūra (armlet)[19] and the the Aṅgada (arm-band)[20] are ornaments to be worn above the elbow.

Breast ornaments

And the three-stringed necklace (trisara)[21] is the ornament of the breast.

19. The suspended pearl necklace, the flower-garland and the like, are ornaments for the [entire] body.

Waist ornaments

And the Talaka[22] and the golden thread (sūtra)[23] are ornaments of the waist.

20. Uses of the ornaments for males should be made thus in case of gods and kings. I shall now speak about the ornaments for females.

Ornaments for females:

Head ornaments

21-22. The Śikhāpāśa[24], the Śikhāvyāla[25], the Piṇḍīpatra,[26] the Crest Jewel (cūḍāmaṇi)[27], the Makarikā[28], the pearl-net (muktā-jāla)[29] with large large meshes (lit. as big as cow’s eyes)[30] and the [ordinary] hair-net (śīrṣajāla) are ornaments of the head.

22-23. The Tilaka on the forehead should be produced by many artistic touches, and by group of designs above the eyebrows should imitate flowers.

Ear ornaments

23-26. The ornaments of the ear are the Kuṇḍala, the Śikhipatra[31] the lotus of the braid [of hairs] hung with a string, the Karṇikā[32], the Karṇavalaya[33], the Patrakarṇikā[34], Āvestika[35] the Karṇamudrā[36] the Karṇotkīlakā (ear-top), hung with a string, the various kinds of the Danta-patras[37] set with jewels, and the Karnapūra[38].

The Tilaka and the Patralekhā[39] are ornaments of the cheeks.

26-30. And the Triveṇī is to be known as the ornament of the breast. The two eyes are to be touched with collyrium and the lips are also to be painted. The teeth will have varieties colours and the four of them may have whiteness. When dyed with turmeric their beauty is enhanced. Pearl-like teeth of beautiful young women embellish their smile, and the teeth dyed with the colour of lotus-petals will be lovely, and when dyed with colour of stone the lips will attain the beauty of a blossoms. And an amorous look will constitute their charm.

Neck ornaments

30-31. The pearl-necklace, the snake-group (vyāla-paṅkti),[40] the Mañjarī[41], the jewel-string[42] the jewel-necklace[43] and the neck-chain (sūtra)[44] are ornaments of the neck.

31-32. The necklace with two, three or four strings as well as a [gold] chain, is the ornament of the neck.

Breast ornaments

32-33. The necklaces with the most artistic work are to be ornaments of the breasts.

The jewelled net is the ornament of the back.[45]

Arm ornaments and finger ornaments

33-34. The Aṅgada (arm-band)[46] and the bangles (valaya)[47] are ornaments of upper (lit. the root of the) arms.

The Kharjūra[48] and the Ucchitika[49] are ornaments of the fore-arm. And so also are Kalāpi, and the Kaṭaka

34-35. The Hastapatra,[50] the Puraka[51] and the ring (mudrāṅgulīyaka)[52] are ornaments of fingers.

Hip ornaments

35-36. The Kāñcī[53] with a net of pearls, the Talaka, the Mekhalā, the Raśanā and the Kalāpa are ornaments of the hip (śroṇī).

36-37. The Kāñcī is [a girdle] of one string, the Mekhalā of eight, the Raśanā of sixteen and the Kalāpa[54] of twenty-five strings.[55]

37-38. In case of goddesses and queens, these should be a combination of thirty-two, sixty-four or one hundred and eight strings.

Ornaments of ankles

38-39. The Nūpura, the Kiṅkiṇī, the string of bells (ghaṇṭikājāla) and the ringing Kaṭaka[56] are the ornaments of ankles.

39-40. The Pāda-patra is the ornament of the shanks (jaṃghā), and the toe-rings that of the toes, and the Tilakas on the big toe are ornaments of the feet.[57]

40-41. Similarly [an additional decoration of the feet] will be the lac-dye applied to them in various patterns to impart to them the natural colour of Aśoka blossoms.

41-42. These are the decorations of women from the hair to nails [of the feet].[58] Considering the Psychological States and the Sentiments these are to be applied [in different parts of the body].

42-43. These [ornaments] are to applied also after a consideration of the popular tradition (āgama),[59] measurements and the colour of the body and practices mentioned in Viśvakarmā’s work.[60]

43-44. [In dramatic production] one is not entitled to decorate limbs freely and at one’s will, with gold, pearls and jewels.

44-45. Applied with a sense of proportion and put on in proper places the jewelled ornaments will lend beauty to the limbs.

45-46. But in the production of plays there should not be a use of too many ornaments; for these will cause fatigue [to actors and actresses][61] while making prolonged movements.

46-47. Moreover weighed down with heavy ornaments one cannot move much, and one so weighed down, is likely to be exhausted and to have faint.[62]

47-48. Hence [in a dramatic production] there should be not used ornaments made of pure gold, but those made of lac and inlaid slightly with jewels, will not bring exhaustion [to the wearers in a play]. The rules of decoration are optional[63] in case of celestial beings (gods and goddesses); but the decoration of human females are to be made carefully.

49. The celestial females are to be distinguished for their own roles by means of ornaments and Costumes suited to the various conditions.

50. Women of the Vidyādharas, the Yakṣas, the Nāgas, and the Apsarasas, and the daughters of sages and gods are to be distinguished by their Costumes.

51. The same rule applies also to women of the Siddhas, the Gandharvas, the Rākṣasas, the Asuras, the godly monkeys, and human females.

52. The Vidyādhara women should be made have hairs (śikhā) tied a in top-knot decorated with a string of many pearls, and clothes [completely] white.

53. The Yakṣa women and the Apsarasas should have ornaments of jewels, and the same will the dresses of [all] these, except that the Yakṣa women only are to wear the Śikhā.

54. The Nāga women are to wear like the goddesses the ornaments abounding in pearls and jewels, but they are also have a hood [in addition to these].

55. The daughters of sages are to wear a single Veṇī of the hair of their head, and they should not be made to have too much decoration.

Siddha women

56. The Siddha women[64] should have ornaments abounding in pearls and emeralds, and their dresses should be of yellow colour.

Gandharva women

57. Ornaments of the Gandharva women should be made to abound in rubies. And they are to carry a Vīṇā in the hands and to have clothes of saffron colour.

Rākṣasa Women

58. The Rākṣasa women are to have saffires as their ornaments, and their teeth are to be made white and the dresses of black colour.


59. The celestial women are to have lapis lazuli and pearls as their ornaments, and their dresses are to be made green like [the colour of] a parrot’s tail.

Monkey females

60. The women of the godly monkeys are to have topaz[65] and [sometimes] lapis lazuli as their ornaments, and their dresses are to be made of blue colour.

61. This should be the dress of celestial women in their love-making. But in special conditions their dresses are to be made white.

Human females according to their countries

62. But human females are to have dresses and ornaments according to their places of origin, Listen properly about them.

Women of Avanti and of Gauḍa

63. The young women of Avanti are to have curling hairs, and the women of Gauḍa[66] are generally to have hairs curled, and they are to have the Śikhāpāśa and the Veṇī.

Ābhīra women

64. The Ābhīra women are to have two Veṇīs, and their heads generally have an encircling band and their clothes should mostly be blue.

Women of the North-East

65. The women of the North-East are to hold up their Śikhaṇḍas, and in dressing themselves they cover the body up to their hair.

Women of the South

66. The women of the South are to have Ullekhya[67] with Kumbhīpadaka,[68] and Āvarta[69] on the forehead.

67. Thus, hair-style etc., dresses, ornaments, and application of razor relating, [to the head], hair-cutting etc. should be regulated for the remaining characters according to their habitation and birth.[70]

Ornaments to be worn in the right place

68. An ornament and such other things not put on in its proper place will create no beauty; for by wearing a Mekhalā (girdle) on the breast one will create laughter.

Dresses to suit the condition of females

69. Similarly, the condition of females whose lover has gone abroad and who are afflicted with misery, are to not to have a clean dress, and they are to wear their hair as a single Veṇī from the head.

70. The dresses of women who are separated from their lover, should be white, and they are not to wear many ornaments and not to make a toilet.

71. Such should be [the dresses] of women according to their habitation and the condition [of existence]. Now I shall speak about the proper dresses of men.

Painting the limbs

72. But in their (i.e. men’s) case the producers of plays should first of all paint the limbs, and then Costumes according to their habitation should be provided.

Four original colours

75. The four original (lit. natural) colours are black, blue, yellow and red; the limbs should be painted with these.

74. These are the primary colours, and there are besides derivative ones and minor colours. I shall speak about the ways in which the producers are to make them.

Derivative colours

75. The bluish white (kāraṇḍava) colour, is made up of of the white and the blue, and the yellowish white colour (pāṇḍu) of the white and the yellow.

76. The lotus (padma) colour is made up of the white and the red, and the green (harit) colour, of the yellow and the blue

77 The dark red (kāṣāya) colour is made up of the blue and the red, and the pale-red (gaura) colour of the red and the yellow.

78. These are the derivative colours. Besides these there are [many] minor colours which may be made up of three or four [original] colours.

Minor colours

79. Of these, the strong colour should form one part and the weak colour two parts; but the blue colour should be taken as directed below.

80. The blue should form only one part while the other colours will form three parts, for the blue is known to be the strongest of colours.

81. Knowing thus the rules of colours which are to be prepared by mixing them variously, one should paint the body of different characters.

82. The painted body on changing its own Costume is to be considered as a matter of convention (nāṭyadharma) as beloning to dramatis personae.

83. After covering the body and its colour by means of paints and cosmetics an actor should assume the nature of the person whose character he is to represent.[71]

84-85. Just as the soul [of a man] after renouncing the nature proper to one body assumes another character[72] related to the body of another animal, so a person having [a different] colour and makeup, adopts the behaviour connected with the clothes he wears.

Living beings

86. The gods, the Dānavas, the Gandharvas, the Yakṣas the Rākṣasas and the Pannagas (Nāgas) are called living beings, [for] they in the present case constitute the body of the soul.[73]

Lifeless objects

87. Hills, palaces, mechanical contrivances (yantra), shields, armours, banner-staffs and various weapons are known as lifeless objects.

Lifeless objects in human form

88. But whenever necessary (lit. due to a reason) they may assume a human from with [suitable] dress and speech[74] according to the dramatic convention.

Painting the limbs

89. After learning the rule of making colours one should paint the limbs [of the dramatis personae ] in conformity with their habitation, birth and age.

Colours for gods

90. Gods as well as the Yakṣas and the Apsarasas should be painted reddish yellow, and Rudra, Arka (the Sun) Druhiṇa (Brahmā) and Skanda are to have the colour of gold.

91. Soma (the Moon), Bṛhaspati. Śakra (Indra) Varuṇa and the stars, the ocean, the Himalayas, and Gaṅgā (the Ganges) are to be made white in colour.

92. Aṅgāraka (Maṅgala = Mars) should be painted red, and Budha and Hutāśana (Agni) yellow, and Nārāyaṇa and Nara as well as Vāsuki should be dark blue (śyāma).

Colour for demi-goods

93. The Daityas, the Dānavas, the Rākṣasas, the Guhyakas, mountains, the Piśācas, Yama and the sky are dark blue in colour.

94. The Yakṣas, the Gandharvas, the Bhūtas, the Pannagas (Nāgas), the Vidyādharas, the Pitṛs and the monkeys are of various colours.

Colours for human beings in different regions

95. Human beings who dwell on the Six Continents[75] (ṣaṭ-dvipa) are to be painted in the colour of burnished gold.

96. But among the inhabitants of Jambudvīpa[76] where men of various colours live, every one except those who dwell in the North Kuru region should be given the colour of gold.

97. In Bhadrāśva[77] people should have the white colour, and in Ketumāla[78], they are blue. But in the rest of the subcontinents people should be made reddish yellow (gaura).

Colours for Bhūtas and dwarfs

98. Bhūtas are known to be of various colours. They are dwarfs with odd faces and may have faces of boars, rams, buffaloes and deer as well[79].

Colours of people of Bhārata-varṣa

99. Besides, listen now about the different colours of the people of Bhāratavarṣa. Kings there should be of lotus colour, or dark blue or reddish yellow [in complexion].

100-102. And the happy mortals there are to be made of the reddish yellow (gaura) colour. Those who practice vile acts, are possessed of evil spirits, diseased or engaged in penance and in laborious work, and are of inferior birth, should be made brown (a-sita, lit. not fair). And the sages should always be given the colour of plum (vadara). But brown should be the colour of sages observing penance (tapas).

102-103. And out of any necessity and also according to one’s (author’s) pleasure, colour of persons may be varied according to their habitation, birth and age.

103-104. An expert in [dramatic] production should paint persons after knowing their place of action, and time of action, birth and the region of the earth they dwell in.

Colours of different tribes

104-105. Kirātas,[80] Barbaras[81] Andhras,[82] Dramilas,[83] Kāśis,[84] Kosalas,[85] Pulindas[86] and the inhabitants of the South[87] are mostly known to be brown (asita, lit. not white).

105-106. Śakas,[88] Yavanas,[89] Pahlavas (Pahravas)[90] and Vāhlikas (Bāhlikas)[91] who dwell in the North,[92] should be made almost reddish yellow.

106-107. Pāñcālas,[93] Śūrasenas,[94] Oḍras,[95] Māgadhas,[96] Aṅgas,[97] Vaṅgas[98] and Kaliṅgas should be made dark or deep blue (śyāma) in complexion.

Colours of different castes

107-108. Brahmins and Kṣatriyas should be always made reddish yellow[99] and Vaiśyas and Śūdras dark or deep blue (śyāma) in complexion.[100]

Rules for the beard

108-109. After painting the face and other limbs according to the rules one should provide beard to persons after considering their habitation, profession and religious rites.

109-110. The beard according to the change of conditions of persons should be of four kinds: white (śuddha),[101] black (śyāma)[102] smartly done (vicitra)[103] and bushy (romaśa, lit. hairy).[104]

110-111. The beard of religious mendicants (liṅgin)[105] ministers, chaplains and persons who are indifferent to sensual pleasure[106] or have consecrated themselves for any ritual[107] should be made white.

111-113. The beard of celestial males, such as the Siddhas[108] and the Vidyādharas,[109] kings, princes, officers of the king and persons who are gallants and proud of their youth,[110] should be made smartly done (vicitra) by the producers of plays.

113-114. The beard of persons who are sorry for not having fulfilled their promise, and are ascetics or have been struck with any calamity, should be made black.

114-115. The beard of Vedic seers, ascetics and persons observing a long-standing vow, and of those who are bent on revenge should be made bushy (romaśa).

Rules for different Costumes

115-116. Thus the beard should be made of different kinds. I shall now speak of costumes suited to different occasions.

116-117. Clothes coming from many marts are of various kinds. They are [chiefly] of three kinds: white, red and variegated.

117-118. Costumes are of three kinds: white, variegated and soiled (malina). I shall now explain their difference according to use made by producers.[111]

118-120. In going to the temple of gods, observing some auspicious rite or a vow or at the conjunction of some Tithis and stars, or at the time of marriage or any other sacramental rites, men and women should have white costumes, and the same is the rule for disciplined man in general.[112]

120-121. Costumes of gods, the Dānavas the Yakṣas, the Gandharvas, the Uragas (Nāgas), the Rākṣasas, kings, and people of foppish nature should be variegated.

121-123. Costumes of old Brahmins, leaders of bankers’ guild, ministers, chaplains, merchants, ascetics, those who occupy the same position[113] as the Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, and Vaisyśas should be white, in a dramatic production.

123-124. Costumes of lunatics, intoxicated persons, wayfarers and persons struck with calamity should be made soiled.

124-125. In case of costumes of the white and variegated class, the experts in dramatic theory should provide upper garments of white, red and variegated colour, and in case of a dirty man, he should be given a soiled cloth.

126. Costumes of the sages; the Jain (Nirgrantha) and the Buddhist (Śākya) monks, the and the Yatis and the Pāśupatas should be made according to their respective sectarian rules and with an eye to what may have influence on the people.

127. Ascetics [in general] should be made to wear a tattered cloth, barks and skin. And the costumes of the wandering ascetics, sages and Buddhist monks should be made of dark red (kāṣāya) cloth.

128. To the Pāśupatas should be given a variegated dress, and costumes of persons of low birth should be made as befits their profession.

129-130. To persons engaged in guarding the harem should be given armour and clothes of dark red (kāṣāya) colour. The same should be the dresses of females when they are in special conditions.[114]

130-131. Costumes of the warriors (lit. heroes) should be suitable for fighting a battle, and they are to be provided with varied weapons, armours with quivers attached, and with bows.

131-132. Kings should always be made to have a many-coloured dress; but when due to affliction under any evil star they are engaged in any propitiatory rite, their costumes should be exclusively white.

132-133. Thus should be made the clothes of persons (lit. types men and women) of the superior, the middling and the inferior classes according to their age, birth and other conditions (lit. qualities).

133-134. These are the rules of costumes in a dramatic production, according as persons attain different conditions, and practice good or bad deeds.

Use of masks

134-135. Similarly different masks (pratiśira)[115] are to be used for gods and men, according to their habitation, birth and age.

Three kinds of crown

135-137. [In the masks], crowns for the gods and kings are of three kinds: Pārśvāgata (= Pārśvamaulī)[116], Mastakī and Kirīṭī.[117] For the gods [in general], the Gandharvas, the Yakṣas, the Pannagas (Nāgas) and the Rākṣasas, the crowns of the Pārśvamauli (Pārśvāgata) type have been generally prescribed.

137-138. And the Kirīṭī crown has been prescribed for the superior gods, and the middling gods are to have crown of the Maulī (= Mastakī?) type, while the common (lit. inferior) gods are to have crowns of the Pārśvamauli type.

138-139. The kings should be given crowns of the Mastakī type. While the Vidyādharas, the Siddhas and Cāraṇas[118] should be provided with crowns made up of their knotted hairs (keśa-mukuṭa).

140-141. Hairs and eyes of Rākṣasas, Dānavas and Daityas should be of tawny colour, and they should have tawny moustaches; and their crowns and faces should be treated similarly. And those among them who are of high type should have crowns of Pārśvamauli type.

141-143. Why are the crowns attached to the heads of goods and of mortal kings in a dramatic production? [Answer], In the Vedic cult there is the rule of cutting of hairs. Wearing crown has been sanctioned for a person who has shaved his hairs in connection with a sacrifice, and would like to cover his head because the hairs are not long.

143-144. The ministers, Kañcukins (armour-bearer), leaders of the merchants’ guild, and priests should have masks with a piece of cloth tied round the head like a turban.

144-145. And the masks of the army-leaders (senāpati) and the crown-prince should be provided with a small crown (ardha-mukuṭa, lit, half-crown) and such should be done in case of a Mahāmātra (high royal officer).

145. Masks of the Piśācas, lunatics, the Bhūtas, spiritual aspirants, ascetics and those who have not yet fulfilled their promise should have long hairs.

Rules of different hairs

146-147. The head [in the mask] of the Buddhists (śākya), monks experts in Vedic studies (śrotriya), the Jain (Nirgrantha) monks, wandering ascetics, and those who have consecrated themselves for some rites or for a Vedic sacrifice, should have their heads shaven clean. And according to their, [respective] sectarian doctrine the remaining ascetics should have their heads shaven or should have curling hairs or hairs loosely hanging down.

148-149. Dhūrtas (crooks) and those carry on their professions at night (i.e. thieves, robbers etc.) and men of gallant nature should have curling hairs.

149-150. Heads of boys should be adorned with three Śikhaṇḍas[119] and that of the Munis should have a crown of matted hair (jaṭā-mukuṭa).[120]

150-151. Menials should have three Śikhās on their head or will have the head shaven clean. And the Jester should have a bald head or head with the Kākapada (lit. crow’s feet).[121]

151-152. As for the rest [of persons] the head [in the mask] should be treated in a dramatic production in relation to their habitation, birth and age.

152-153. Thus after intelligently distinguishing different modes of existence by means of ornaments, various costumes and garlands, one should build up imitation of special conditions, from which proceed Sentiments in the production [of a play].

154. Men and women having been treated like this (lit. made to attain these conditions), all Psychological States of gods should be made human.


155-156. Producers should not prescribe want of twinkling of eyes in case of gods. For all Psychological States and Sentiments in this world are based on looks, and the meaning [of words] resting in looks are represented afterwards by gestures. One should thus know of make-up of limbs, which relate to different characters.

157. Now I shall speak of the characteristics of what is known as Sañjīva (= living creature). The entrance of animals [in the stage] is called Sañjīva.[122]

158-159. Animals may be four-footed, two-footed and with no foot (apada). Of these, serpents are without foot, birds and men are two-footed, and different animals in the forest or in human settlements are known to be fourfooted.

Use of weapons

159-160. Those who are engaged in fight, angry conflict or siege, in a play are to be given different weapons[123] in a drama.

160-161. Weapons should be made by experts with proper measurements. I shall now describe these together with the rules for their measurement.

161-162. The Bhiṇḍi should measure twelve Tālas, the Kunta (javelin) ten and the Śataghni, the Śūla (spike), the Tomara and the Śakti (spear) eight.[124]

162-163. The bow should measure eight Tālas, and its width[125] should be two cubits. Arrows, mace and the Vajra should be four Tālas long.

163-164. The sword should measure forty Aṅgulis and the disc (cakra) twelve and the Prāsa the latter’s half.

164-165. The Paṭṭisa will measure like the Prāsa, and the rod (daṇḍa) should measure twenty Aṅgulis while the Kampana (Kaṇapa) will be of the same measure.

165-166. The shield (carma) should be sixteen Aṅgulis in width and two cubits in length, and it should have Vālyas (hairs?) and bells attached to it. Kheṭaka (rider’s shield) should be thirty aṅgulis in width [and two cubits in length].

Use of other Objects

167-168. The Jarjara[126], the Daṇḍakāṣṭha[127], masks, umbrellas, chowris, banner-staffs, and water-jars (bhṛṅgāra)[128] and every other thing that men make use of, are the accessories in [the production of] a play.

168-169. The characteristics of all these are to be considered by those to whose sphere they belong. Now I shall speak of the characteristics of the Jarjara and the Daṇḍakāṣṭha.

Indra’s Banner-staff

170. Trees grown on white soil and cut down under the Puṣyā asterism have been made eligible for Indra’s banner-staff by the great Viśvakarmā[129].

Tha Jarjara

171-172. Some of these trees should be [fashioned into] the Jarjara by a carpenter. The branch of a tree may also be [made] the Jarjara[130]. But a bamboo will be most suitable [for this kind of work]. I shall speak about its characteristics.

172-173. A bamboo grown on white soil and (cut down) under the Puṣyā asterism, should be carefully gathered with an observation of proper rules. Its joints should not be much developed, it should not have branches and should not be worm-eaten.

174-175. As to its measurement, it should be one hundred and eight aṅgulis (4½ cubits) long, and should have five sections and four joints, only one Tāla in circumference. But its joints should not be very prominent (lit. thick), and it should neither be worm-eaten nor scratched by friction with other bamboos.

175-176. After smearing it with honey and ghee, and worshipping it regularly with garlands and incense, one should gather a bamboo for making a Jarjara.

176-177. The ceremonies and their order[131] which have been prescribed in case of [consecration of] the great Indra’s banner-staff, should be observed also in case of the holy bamboo [for converting it into the Jarjara.]

177-178. It many have long and short sections. But when the top of each of these sections is perfectly round, it is called the holy bamboo.

178-179. This is the rule in connexion with the characteristics of the Jarjara. I shall hereafter speak of that of the Daṇḍakāṣṭha.

The Daṇḍakāṣṭha

179-180. The Daṇḍakāṣṭha[132] should always be made of the Bilva or the Kapittha tree or the bamboo. It should be curved and have three bents and should have [good] characteristics.

180-181. That which is neither worm-eaten nor diseased, and has small (lit. poor) branches, is called the Daṇḍakāṣṭha.

181-182. He who well get fashioned the Jarjara and the Daṇḍakāṣṭha devoid of the said characteristics, will certainly sustain a great loss.

Making of masks

182-183. Similarly one should prepare with proper measurement the Paṭī for making the head. The measurement may be one’s own or it many be thirty-two Aṅgulis. The Paṭi should be made by using the Bilva paste on cloth.

184-185. Masks should be made with ashes or husks of paddy being mixed up with the Bilva-paste or some watery form of it, after covering these with cloth smeared with the thick Bilva-paste.

185-186. The Paṭī [thus prepared] should neither be too thick nor too thin, and neither should it be made too soft.

186-187. After getting it (the Paṭī) dried up by fire or the sun, one should pierce holes in it according to the rule, by means of a sharp instrument, and these holes should be made after dividing it into two [equal] halves.

188. In the Paṭī so prepared an opening six Aṅgulis long and one Aṅguli wide, should be made according to one’s own measure, in the form of the forehead, and it should have [two] angles [at the two end].

189. Then [a pair of] openings two Aṅgulis long and one and a half a Aṅguli wide, should be made for the cheeks, and after [this has been done for] the cheeks, [other openings] three Aṅgulis more [in length] are be made for ears.

190. The opening for ears being three Aṅgulis long the same should be the length for the opening of the mouth, and afterwards the symmetrical neck (avaṭu) should be made equal to twelve Aṅgulis.

191-192. So much about the rules for the cutting of openings in the Paṭī for covering the head. On this are to be placed various forms of crowns set with many kinds of jewels, and decorated with different artistic designs.

Other accessories

192-193. And at the production of a play (lit. here) one should use differently in relation to dramatis personae many kinds of accessories (upakaraṇa) demanded by the art of theatre.

193-194. Now, all the manufactures or crafts that are executed in this world of moving and immobile objects, are to be known as the accessories in [a performance].

194-195. [And to obtain them] one is to go to a country which has got it. For [obtaining] such accessories in a dramatic production men have no other means.

195-196. One who produces an [ordinary] object of art, prescribes its measurement and description.

196-197. Large objects which require much iron to make them are not for our theatrical productions. Why? Because they create fatigue [in actors].

197-198. Imitation of any object which exists in this world of living being, with different characteristics, may be included in the accessories [to be used] in the performance of a drama.

198-199. But palaces, houses and vehicles and various weapons, cannot be produced for the stage realistically (lit. in due manner).

Realistic and Conventional objects

199-200. Some accessories, [however], will be Realistic while others will be Conventional. Any thing following its natural form is called Realistic, while any deviation from the same will be known as Conventional.

200-201. Accessories for use on the stage should not be made with stone (nagasāra) as well as iron, for these due to their heaviness will create fatigue [in actors].

201-202. Objects which are light in handling should be made with lac, wood, leather, cloth, Bhāṇḍa and sliced bamboo, for their use as accessories in a dramatic production.

202- 204. Skeleton frames of armours, shields, banner-staffs, hills, palaces, peaks of mountains, horses, elephants, aerial cars, and houses should first be made with pieces of sliced bamboo, and then these should be given likeness of such objects related to Psychological States, by covering them with cloths of requisite colour.

204-205. But if it is not found possible to use cloth suitably for this purpose, then palm-products and mats (kiliñja) may also be used instead.

205-206. Similarly weapons of various forms are to be made with grass and pieces of sliced bamboo, and with lac and Bhāṇḍa.[133]

206-207. Imitation legs, heads, hands and skin should be made in their likeness with grass, mat and Bhāṇḍa.

207-208. All the articles should be made with earth in various forms in imitation of their proper forms.

208-209. Various hills and shields, armours, and banner-staffs are to be made with Bhāṇḍa, cloth, bees-wax, lac and sheets of mica.

209-210. And fruits and flowers growing in various regions, and the various ornaments (bhāṇḍa) should be made with lac. Similarly they may be made with Bhāṇḍa, cloth, bees-wax and very thin copper-sheets,

Making of ornaments

211-212. Jewels should be made with thin sheets of mica coloured with indigo or other plants or seeds, and these should be mounted on very thin sheets of copper or tin.

212-213. The different kinds of crowns of which I spoke before, should be made dazzling with loosely attached pieces of mica, so that they may shine like jewels.

213-214. In cases of [all] these objects, instructions [for their making] have not been mentioned in the Śāstras. One must act according to the directions of the Ācārya and be guided by relevant reasoning.

214-215. This is the rule of action regarding the future mortals, [that should be adopted in dramatic production]. Why? Because want of sufficient strength will occur in men [of the future generation].

215-216. Mortals of poor strength should not make any [undue] physical exertion, and hence it is not desirable that their crowns or ornaments should be made with gold and jewels.

216-217. For in battle, personal combat, dance and in representing acts of challenge, persons burdened with heavy weight will feel fatigue and may even faint.

217-218. When the actor is overcome with pain or fatigue or is fainting, his performance is spoilt. One may even endanger his life by making movements with difficulty under such conditions.

218-219. Hence ornaments are to be made with thin sheets of copper, coloured sheets of mica, Bhāṇḍa and bees wax covered with thin sheets of mica or mica dyed red, blue and green.

219-220. Thus by following the popular practice or exercising one’s own discretion one is to make properly theatrical accessories.

Use of weapons on the stage

221. No missile should be released on the stage, and no weapon should pierce or strike anyone. They should simply touch a spot, and the weapons are to be used only to make a gesture [of an attack].

222. One should release missiles on the stage after a training for it or this training should make him capable of creating an illusion in this regard.

223. Any [relevant] instruction which I may have omitted regarding the present topic, is to be gathered from the popular usage (lit. people). This is all about the Extraneous Representation that I was to tell you. I shall hereafter speak of the Harmonious Representation on the stage (sāmānyābhinaya).

Here ends chapter XXIII of Bharata’a Nāṭyaśāstra, which treats of the Extraneous Representation.

Footnotes and references:


Nānāvasthanānābhūtā yā śokādyā nānābhūtaśrayāś ca (Ag. p. 429).


Sandhimaḥsandhānatayā nirvṛttaḥ (Ag, p. 429).


Vyājimaḥvyājād sūtrasyākarṣākādirūpaḥ kṣepas tena nirvṛtto vyājimaḥ (Ag. p, 430).


Ag. (p. 430) reads this as veṣṭimaḥ and explains its as follows: upari jatu-sikthakādinā veṣṭanena nirvṛtto veṣṭimaḥ.


Emend nagāḥ into nāgāḥ. See XXIII 190-192 below.


Modern tābij (Bengali).


To be worn on the top of the head, Cūḍāmaṇiḥ śiromadhye (Ag. P. 430).


To be worn above the forehead. Mukuṭo lalāṭordhve (Ag. l.c.).


To be worn in the lower lobe of the ear. Kuṇḍalam adharapālyām (Ag, l.c.).


To be worn in a hole in the middle of the ear, Mocakaḥ kārṇaśaṣkulyā madhyacchidre uttara-kaṛniketi prasiddham (Ag. l.c.).


harṣaka—a snake-shaped ornament, samudgata-sarpādi-rūpatayā prasiddham. (Ag. l.c.).


Sūtram—golden neck-chain, sūtrakam iti guccha-grivā-sūtrāditayā prasiddham (Ag. l.c.).


Kaṭakaḥ (vaṭikā, K.). Ag. (l.c.) reads the term differently. He says veti-keti sūkṣmakaṭaka-rūpā.


Aṅguli-mudrā—In later times the two members of this compound word (aṅgulīya and mudrā) gave rise to two different synonyms for the object (ring) denoted by it.


This seems to be very rarely mentioned in Sanskrit literature.


This word is the same as Bengali bālā.


This seems to be a variant of the word rucaka. See note 4 below.


Its seems to be the cūdī (Bengali) from the original cūḍikā.


To be worn above the elbow. Keyūre karpara (kūrpara)- syordhvataḥ (Ag. l.c.). but ke bāhuśirṣe yauti iti keyūraṃ, Kṣīrasvāmin on Amara, II. 6.107.


To be worn above the keyūra. Tayor (= keyūrayor) ūrdhve tv aṅgadam (Ag. l.c.).


Trisaratrisaro muktālatātrayeṇa (Ag. l.c.).


To be worn below the navel; talakaṃ nābher adhaḥ (Ag. l.c.)


To be worn below the talaka. Tasyāpyadhaḥ sūtrakam (Ag. l.c.).


This is same as cūḍāpāśa mentioned in Megha, II. 2.


Ag. explains this as nāgaḥ granthibhir upānibaddho madhye karṇikā - sthānīyaḥ, and adds to explain piṇḍīpatra as tasyaiva dalasandhānatayā citra-racanāni vartulāni pātrāni piṇḍipatrāṇi.


See note 2 above.


The same as mentioned in 15 above.


Ag. reads this makarapatram. Is it mod, Bengali mākaḍi (= *mākarī)?


This is the same word which occurs in Megha, I. 64.


No head ornament with this name seems to occur anywhere else.


Ag. (l.e.) reads śikhāpatra and explains this as śikhāpatra mayūra-picchākāro vicitravarṇa-maṇi-racitaḥ.


This was never met with before.


This is perhaps the sames as mod. Bengali kānbāla > kaṇṇavalaa > karṇava-laya.


This was never met with before.




This ornament is still in use among women of backward classes.


These were possibly made of ivory.


The well-known ear ornament.


The same as patrabhaṅga (drawing decorative designs with scented pigments).


An ornament with the snake-motif; see above 16 note 1. This was never met with before.


Mañjarī—This was never met with before.


Ratnamālikā—This is to be distinguished from ratnāvalī (see note 4 below) which is a bigger necklace; for the word mālikā means a small mālā.


Ratnāvalī—See note 3 above.


Sūtra (lit. thread) evidently means a thin thread-like necklace made of gold; cf. kanakasūtra in Pañcatantra I. (vāyasa-dampati-kathā).


Ornaments of the back, have gone out of fashion.


It is now-a-days called ananta in Bengali.


Kālidāsa’s Yakṣa (Megha, I. 2) had a kind of valaya in his prakoṣṭha (fore-arm).


This seems to have imitated date fruits.


Ucchitika—This was not heard of before.


This was never met with before.


This was never met with before. There is, however, an ornament hasta-sūtra (See Apte, sub voce).


This compound term was not met with before.


All the ornaments except kulaka have been defined in 36-37 below. Kulaka seems to be a girdle of the special kind.


Kalāpa seems to have been used by Kālidasā in the sense of a necklace in Kumāra (I. 42).


The passage seems to be mutilated. For the def. of the kulaka is missing. Probably it had four strings of pearls.


Hollow bangles within which small stone chips are lodged.


This was never met with before. Ag. (p. 431) reads tilakā iti vicitraracanākṛtā.


Ag. (l.c.) ā-nakhādalaktaka-rāgaparyantam.


A g. (l.c.) explains āgama as upādānakāraṇam.


An authority on arts and crafts (śilpa). But his work on these subjects is lost.


A very sensible warning.


See above 45-46 note.


For gods are beautiful by nature.


For the Siddha women see Megha I. 14.


Puṣparāga or puṣyarāja (?), cf. NIA. pokh-rāj


Probably the district of Malda and neighbouring regions of North Bengal.


Ullekhya is probably connected with Bengali ulki (tatto).


Probably the figure of a jar in tatto.


A circular mark in tatto.


C. adds one hemistich (C. 68a) before 62, which in trans. is follows: Courtezans are to have the decoration [of the body] according to their choice.


Chādya in the emended text is a case of solecism in the original text.


This statement is based on the belief that man can change himself into any animal after uttering proper mantras.


Cf. XXV. 22-23. Here the author seams to speak against the bringing living creatures on the stage. The same is the case with 200-201 below.


See Bāla. I


Other than Jambudvīpa, see below 96-97.


Jambudvīpa here means probably Asia.


This is a division (varṣa) of Jambudvīpa, probably Iran.


This is another division of the Jambudvīpa, probably Central Asia. In all there are nine such divisions.


Cf. Buddhacarita, XIII. 19, 23,


Colours mentioned in this and the following passages probably show that the groups alloted a special colour are approximately of the same complexion and not actually of the colour mentioned. These passages seem to give a valuable information about some ethnological features of ancient India. Pre-Aryan people including the Dravidians (Andhras and Dramilas) were not fair in complexion. The separate mention of the Southerners after Andhras and Dramilas (Draviḍas) taken along with some Northern tribes like the Kāśis and Kosalas, seems to show that the NŚ. here records the tradition of their once living in the North. Kirātas—a hill tribe probably living in the Himalayan region; see Mbh. XII. 207, 43.


Barbaras—Some non-Āryan tribe mentioned very rarely in Sanskrit literature (Mbh. XII. 207, 43). This may be a synonym of Mleccha as well.


Andhras—This tribe is well-known in history and literature. See XVIII. 44 note.


Dramilas—Known in Pali (Mahāvaṃsa) as Damila (modern Tamil).


Kāśi—The tribe after which the ancient kingdom of Kāśi and the city of that name were known. It lost its separate entity before the time of Buddha.


Kosala—The tribe giving name to the ancient kingdom of Kosala.


Pulinda—An aboriginal people living probably in the Vindhya region. See Mallinātha on Raghu, XVI, 32; also Paṇha I. 1. and Ṇāyā I, 1.


They may be members of Kol and other tribes living in the South.


Śaka—Hordes of nomadic tribes on the outskirts of North Indian plains; mentioned in Manu X. 44.


Yavana—Probably the same as the people mentioned in Pāṇini.


Pahrava (Pahlava)—Usually taken to mean Parthians who annexed the Western Punjab in about 140 B.C.


Vāhlika (Bāhlika)—Inhabitants of the region known as Balkh settled on the Beas and other rivers. See Rām. II. 68. 18-19 and also Mbh. VIII. 7. 41.


The tribes mentioned here came from their home in the North-West.


Pañcāla tribe is well-known in Mbh.


Śūrasena—The tribe which once settled around Mathura. It gave its name to the principal Prakrit of the Indian drama (Śaurasenī).


Odra—The name of a tribe after which the modern Orissa (Oḍrivisaya) was named. See Manu. 10; 44.


Māgadha—The tribe after which the ancient country of Magadha was named.


Aṅga—The tribe after which the ancient country of Aṅga was named.


Vaṅga—The tribe after which the ancient Vaṅga (South-East Bengal) was named.


Reddish yellow colour (gaura) assigned to Brahmins and Kṣatriyas probably show that when the various theatrical conventions were crystalised, these two sections of the society still retained their original Aryan features one of which was certainly the colour of their skin. The dark colour of the Vaiśyas and Sūdras similarly shows in all likelihood that these were not Aryans or Aryans of the pure type.


See not I above.


But according Ag. Śuddha means clean-shaven, (kṣureṇa sarvadā vāsitam,). He evidently assumes his contemporary fashion in the past.


Śyāma—ordinarily black in colour; but see above.


Vicitra—cut or done in a special fashion.


Romaśa—bushy, romaśam iti yathotpannam (Ag. l.c.), ‘bushy means as they are naturally grown’. The last three classes do not seem to be mutually exclusive.


Liṅginām—“brahmacāricānaprasthādīnāṃ madhyasthā ye ca puruṣā ye bhikṣāṃ samāśritā ityarthaḥ” (Ag.).


Madhyasthā—“madhyasthā iti nottamānāmadhamānām ityarthaḥ” (Ag.).


Even now the custom among some Hindus is that they shave themselves clean before consecrating themselves for some special kind of daiva and paitra rites.


A class of demigods. See Kumāra. 1,5.


A class of demigods. See Bhartṛhari’s Vair, Śat. 24.


Ag. says “yauvanonmādina ityamātyapurodhaso'pīti bhāvaḥ” (p. 434).


See above 85ff.


This is the interpretation of Ag.


That is, those who follow professions other than that which which were usually prescribed for them. For example, a Kṣatriya acting as a teacher, Brahmin acting as a trader or a Vaiśya as a fighter, or a Śudra in any such position.


For example, when they act as guards.


Pkt. paḍisīsaa = Skt. pratiśīrṣaka (Karp I,). It is not laid down anywhere whether masks are to be used în all types of plays and for all characters.


Pārśvāgāta (= Pārāva+āgata), that which has come from the Parśus, mentioned in the Ṛgveda. Hence a Pārśvāgata crown may be the cylindrical crown used by the Persians.


The bridegroom’s ṭopar (a tali conical hat) in Bengal represents probably the crown of the Kiritī type.


Cāraṇas are demigods who sing the praise of superior gods.


Śikhaṇḍa means locks of hair left on the sides of the head. These are three or five in case of the Kṣatriyas (vide Apte s.v.).


The Uṣṇīṣa of Buddha image is probably a????? airs


kākapada see Apte s.v.


This seems to show clearly that sometimes living animals were brought on the stage. This was, however, not the general rule. See XIII. 106-107.


See Ag. on this point.


For the measurement of Tālā see III. 21 note.


‘Width’ here means the distance between the bow and the string at the time of shooting an arrow.


See III. 73ff.


See I. 58-61 note 2,


See I. 58-61.


See Ag. on this point.


See above 167-168 note 1.


See NŚ. III. 73-75ff.


See NŚ. I. 58-61 note 2.


Bheṇḍa K, bhaṇḍa C. “bhāṇḍai (bheṇḍai) rityalābudala-khaḍgādibhiḥ” Ag.

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