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Performing Arts


Sattriya Dances of Assam


(from left)
- The sattra and namghar
- A performance in the namghar
- Gayan Bayan - a component of Sattriya
(c) Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.

A performing art form developed in an important traditional institution known as sattra in Assam situated in eastern part of India.

Reasons for selection

A traditional performing art form of Assam, a state in the eastern part of India.

Area where performed

In the state of Assam in the eastern part of India.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Theatre

Detailed explanation

Sattra are the Vaishnava monasteries in Assam. The saint poet Shankar Deva of the 15th century AD started this institution to bring harmony to the region of Assam through religion, creating forms of dance-dramas, music, painting and collective prayer. The dance forms which have come to stay are called Sattriya dances, sharing all the characteristics of a classical dance form.

As a living tradition these dances are performed in the namghar, the prayer hall of the sattra by the celibate monks. Dressed in white costumes and turbans, head gears, they include khol playing, performing dance, creating soundscapes, floor patterns and choreographic designs. The numbers like Sutradhari, Chali, Jhumura partake of nritta, pure dance, nritya, expressional dance and dance-drama elements. The music is provided by khol (drum), patital, boratal (cymbals)along with songs. The repertoire of Sattriya is vast. Now young female dancers also study these dances and they have come out of the sattra. They are presented on the metropolitan stages, with typical music of Assam, costumes and literary compositions viz borgeet. Both solo and group numbers enrich its presentation.

Publication and textual documentation

NEOG, Maheshwar
1973 Sattriya Dances of Assam and their Rhythms.
Guwahati, Assam: Assam Sangeet Natak Akademi. In English and Assamese.

Audio documentation

Audio recording available on tapes/cassettes at the archives, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.

Visual documentation

Video recording available on tape at the archives, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

1. Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.
2. Department of Culture, Government of Assam, Guwahati, Assam.

Data provider

Mr. Jayant Kastuar
Sangeet Natak Akademi
Address: Rabindra Bhawan, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi - 110001, India