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Aharya Abhinaya In Drama – Costume – Make Up – Stage Decor

Aharya is one of the four components of abhinaya (performance). Aharya means costume but the meaning is extended to all that the performance space is adorned with. It supports and enhances the meaning conveyed by the three other components of abhinaya – vachika (the vocalized), angika (gestural) and sattvika (emotional) enactment of the performer. Aharyabhinaya also comprises the art of decorating the stage. Bharata Muni, in his Natyashastra, postulates this nepathyavidhi (backstage procedure) as having four main categories – pushta (creation of artificial sets and arranging the stage), angaracana (decorating the face and body by applying paint and hairstyles), alankara (decorating various parts of the body with ornaments and costumes), and sanjiva (models of animals).

Angaracana and alankara are common to both dance and drama. Pushta and Sanjiva are applicable more to drama than to dance. Pushta depends on the theme of production and stage settings. Indoor and outdoor scenes are painted or arranged to enhance effects in production. In angaharabhinaya, three types of facial make-up are mentioned, viz., natural, mixed, and minor. When painted with white, blue, yellow and red the facial makeup is considered natural. If any of the two colors are combined, the makeup is said to be mixed. When more than two colors are mixed in the facial makeup, it is known as minor.

Alankarana (decoration) is done with flowers, jewels and clothes. The floral decorations may comprise vismita (bouquets), vitata (garland), sangatya (garlands concealing the stalks), grandhima (making garlands with bouquets), and pralambita (garlands reaching the knee). Jewelry used as personal adornment is classified by Bharata under four major heads – avidhya (ear ornaments), bandhaniya (waist ornaments, girdles, bands), etc., arupya (ornaments decorating the neck), and prakshipya (anklets and other ornaments on the feet). A costume is made of three types of cloth, shuddha (white), rakta (red), and vicitra (multi-colored). The stitched costumes could be suvasana (splendid garments), paridhana (dresses of regular wear), pasha (embroidered garment of a female dancer) and vadhuya (bridal garment).

Sanjiva is a device in aharyabhinaya which uses actual objects, live animals, and birds. The dancer, for instance, wields a weapon, plays musical instruments or plays with pet animals and birds.

Thus, aharyabhinaya contains a wide range of hairstyles, jewelry, make-cup, costumes and stage arrangements.