Kavad The Ingenious Storytelling Box from IndiaINDIA | A Kavad is an ingenious storytelling box that storytellers use to tell traditional Indian tales of the Gods, Goddesses, Saints, Local Heroes and Patrons.

From Marwar, Rajasthan, Northern Indian, it opens into many layers, like crossing the thresholds of a temple, in a rather compelling manner as the story, unfolds to reveal its deepest secret.

Revealing pictures from the episodes in a particular tale, or more frequently in a series of stories, as the audience listens.


Kavad is a Family Business.

Members of a family make and decorate the box (which could be the size of a single wardrobe).

The storyteller of the family travels with the kavad from village to village, telling the stories.

On arrival at a village the storyteller would face his audience, holding the kavad in front of him tilted slightly backwards so everyone could see.

With a smaller kavad like the one shown right he sits cross legged.


A Kavad Has Four Main Sections.

The storyteller begins by opening the small outer doors revealing the decorations on the outer panels to arouse the curiosity by talking through the highlights of the stories depicted in the kavad.

The storyteller then opens a ‘donations’ flap—located under the decorated panels—and asks for money to reveal the tale.

When paid, the storyteller opens panels, one by one, telling the tales illustrated.

Sometimes a telling could last for days. One kavad can contain many linked tales. The storyteller would not only open the ‘donations’ flap at regular intervals, but also is given food, drink and a place to sleep.

The grand finale of the tales comes as the storyteller opens the final panels to reveal a ‘shrine’ –housing 3D sculptures of the hero and his wife or wives or companions, and ,perhaps, they are living in happiness ever after.




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Kavad: The Man Who Keeps An Art Form Going

The Painted Mobile Shrines of Marwar


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