The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the major types of music and dance performance of the Indian folk theater, popular in Mysore State. First attested in 1105, the term yaksagana initially referred to music performed at the feudal courts. In the 16th and 17th centuries a theatrical genre evolved from song and dance forms indigenous to the Carnatic and was given the name yaksagana; it was described by the poet R. Varni in 1557.

Yaksaganas, which are performed during the major Hindu festivals, take their plots from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and legends. They involve dancing, singing, and pantomine and include an obligatory battle scene in which the forces of good triumph. The performance is accompanied by an orchestra of drums, dulcimers, and stringed instruments. There are northern and southern styles for the performance of the yaksagana; they differ with respect to costumes, which are more colorful and ornate in the south, and staging devices. Modern yaksaganas preserve all the traditional features of the genre.


Babkina, M. P., and S. I. Potabenko. Narodnyi teatr Indii. Moscow, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Katrin Binder publishes what seems to be a summary of her thesis on Yaksagana, the folk-theater of the Canara districts in Karnataka, into which new life has been infused through the efforts of Sivarama Karanth and K S Haridas Bhat (among others).
To the essay's original text - unaltered as far as I can tell - have been added sumptuous color photographs of scenes and characters from various Yaksagana dramas.
Yaksagana dramas are notable for their retention of a vidusaka-like character, the hanumanayaka, for their elaborate and beautiful costuming, and for their wealth of themes, which range over both Sanskrit epics, the Bhagavata stories of Krsna, and Kannada versions thereof.
81), but the adoption of shouting and clown-like histrionics by "urban troupes" in place of the rhythmically paced declamation characteristic of traditional "temple troupes." Yaksagana constitutes a link with the Indian past that need not be broken.