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The shadow puppets are lit from behind by 21 oil lamps made of coconut halves, placed equidistantly on a wooden beam behind the screen, causing the puppets' shadows to fall on the screen.The language used in Tholpavakoothu performances is a dialect of Tamil along with Sanskrit and Malayalam words.Initially consisting of one puppeteer, by 1730 three puppeteers were used to operate each puppet in full view of the audience.
Marionettes are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer.
The simplest puppets are finger puppets, which are tiny puppets that fit onto a single finger, and sock puppets, which are formed from a sock and operated by inserting one's hand inside the sock, with the opening and closing of the hand simulating the movement of the puppet's "mouth".
A hand puppet is controlled by one hand which occupies the interior of the puppet and moves the puppet around (Punch and Judy puppets are familiar examples of hand puppets).
There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made of a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use.
They can be extremely complex or very simple in their construction.