Post No. 9961

Date uploaded in London – 10 AUGUST  2021     

Contact –

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge.

this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.,

Bharata, author of Natyasastra, gives amazing details about the role of colours in the dance dramas. It is not surprising to see the use of colours because we see colour coding even in Bhagavatha. Krishna wearing yellow clothes is called Peetambaradhari and Balarama wearing blue clothes is called Neelambaradhari.

Bharata even applies colour coding for seats. Please see the link given at the end.

Hindus’ obsession with colours began in Rigvedic period. Indra’s horses are described as tawny coloured. Sometimes they are red. Different colour skins of cows are also mentioned by Vedic Rishis.

Coming to ornaments and hair styles, he gives minute details. Before going into the details of colours and ornaments, let me make my comments

  1. Hindu dramas of ancient India followed their own rules in ornaments and dresses. It has nothing to do with the Greek dramas . The big difference between the Hindu statues and Greek statues is ornaments. Greeks don’t wear ornaments. Hindu statues and paintings of Ajanta, Bharhut,Sanchi, Aamaravati are seen wearing ornaments all over the body. They have names for ornaments from head to toe.
  • Colour coding is also not found in Greece .
  • Another important point is the division of Hindu society. Foreigners who translated Vedas made adjective words into proper nouns. Arya should be translated as ‘educated, cultured ‘ etc. But they put capital A for Arya and made them a race. In the same way Dravidians should be southerners. But they put one capital D for the word and made it a race. We have very good evidence against Maxmuller gang, the advocates of Aryan-Dravidian theory. Here in Natyasastra, we don’t find Aryan or Dravidians. If Dravidians are mentioned we know it is about southerners. But they are mentioned with other peoples. In short, they are not racial.

Now let us look at the colours , from Chapter 23 of Natya sastra

Make- up (Slokas 72-89)

“Now I shall speak about the proper make up of male characters.

First of all their bodies should be painted. White, blue, yellow and red are primary colours. There are derivative colours as well as minor colours.

The derivatives are

White + blue = Pandu (yellowish white)

White +red = Padma (lotus colour )

Yellow +blue =  Harita (Green)

Blue + Red = Kasaya (deep red)

Red + Yellow = Gaura (pale red)

Besides these, there are many colours made up of three or four primary colours.

Once the fans get used to these colours, they can easily understand the story. Dialogues may be inaudible, but the colours of characters will help them to recognise them.

Bharata continues with hair styles and ornaments…

Slokas 49-61

Celestial women should be distinguished by their ornaments and costumes, and females of Vidhyadhara, Yaska, Naga and Apsara groups as well as daughters of sages and gods to be distinguished by their costumes. The same rule applies to Siddha, Gandharva, Raksasa  and human females.

(Here we must note that there is no Arya or Dravidian classification. Through out devotional Tamil literature Lord shiva is addressed as Arya. It has no racial connotation.)

The vidhyadhara women should have their hair tied in a top knot, must have many pearls, but wear white costume.

The Yaska and apsara women should wear many jewels, costume to be the same but the yaksa women’s hair must be worn in a Sikha. The naga women should wear ornaments like goddesses, should wear ornaments of pearls and jewels, but the latter must be in the form of wild fruits.

Daughters of sages must wear their hair in a single braid and there should not be many ornaments.

The siddha women must wear plenty of ornaments pearls and emeralds and yellow costumes.

The gandhrva women should wear ornaments of rubies, costumes of saffron colour and a Vina in their hands.

The Rakshasa women should wear blue stones, white protruding teeth and black costume; the goddess pearls and Vaidurya and costumes green like a parrot tail, but this only while they are enjoying love;I n other conditions white.


Hair styles for different regions are as follows…..

Avanti women- curled hair

Gauda- a sikha pasa

Abhira women- two braids with head band

North east women- a sikhandaka standing up. They must cover their body up to the hair.

Women of South- wear tattoos on their fore heads

Then he describes make ups for different characters.

Let me summarise,

All these show that our drama and dance have unique features. The oldest portion of Natyasastra goes back to fifth century BCE.

I will give the list of ornaments separately

Links to old articles:-

Natya sastra | Tamil and Vedas › tag › natya-sastra


27 Feb 2021 — The ”Natya Shastra” is the oldest extant literature in the field of dramatic arts. The black-coloured sculpture, conceptualised by classical …

Colour Coding of Seats in Ancient Theatres! | Tamil and Vedas › 2014/05/13 › colour-codin…


13 May 2014 — In the Natya sastras we have references to 18 different types of stages. … The Natyasastra of Bharata is a compendious treatise on …

You visited this page on 03/08/21.


tags- natya sastra, colours, costumes, ornaments, Bharata