History And Styles Of Sattriya Dance In English

History And Styles Of Sattriya Dance In English
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History And Styles Of Sattriya Dance

  • Sattriya or Sattriya Nritya, is a major Indian classical dance. The dance was initially created as part of the Bhaona, a performance of the Ankiya Nat, one-act plays originally composed by the 15th-16th century polymath Sankardeva of Assam.
  • These dances are part of the living traditions of today’s seventies, communities of live-in devotees belonging to the Dharma Eksaran Dharma founded by Shankardeva.
  • The themes played are related to Lord Krishna, sometimes other Vishnu avatars like Rama and Sita and stories from the epics are also mentioned.
  • The philosophical religion of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva was based on Vedanta, Bhagavadgita and Bhagavata Purana, hence there is no presence of Radha in Sattriya dance performances.
  • On 15 November in the year 2000, the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India recognized Satriya as one of the eight classical dances of India.
  • Modern Satriya explores a range of themes and dramas, and its performances are held around the world.

History Of Sattriya

  • Sattriya is a classical dance form of India, which has its roots in the ancient drama and music texts of India, especially the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni. Its first complete compilation dates to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
  • The most studied version of the Natya Shastra text contains about 6000 verses which are structured in 36 chapters.
  • The text describes the principles of Tandava dance (Shiva), principles of rasa, expressions, expressions, gestures, acting techniques, basic steps, standing postures – all part of Indian classical dances.
  • Dance and performance art, states this ancient text, is a form of expression of spiritual thoughts, qualities and essence of the scriptures.
  • The history of dance art in Assam dates back to ancient times, as evidenced by copper plate inscriptions and sculptures belonging to Shaivism and Shaktism traditions.
  • Similarly, singing and musical traditions are traced to the Assamese chorus singing tradition for the Hindu epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata.
  • The art form was developed and practiced by monks in the form of dance-drama about Krishna’s stories and mythology, especially from texts such as the Bhagavata Purana.
  • A distinctive part of the Sattriya dance inside temples and monasteries is that the dance is not performed in front of an idol, but in front of a copy of the Bhagavata Purana placed in the eastern corner called the manikut of the dance hall.
  • These dance-dramas were written and directed in the early days by the Assamese poet-saint Sankardev and his chief disciple Madhavdev.
  • They were mostly composed during the 16th century. Once the domain of male monks, it is now performed by male as well as female dancers.
  • The Sangeet Natak Akademi recognized Sattriya dance as one of the official classical dances of India in 2000. Sattriyas are now performed on world forums.


  • Like other schools of Indian classical dance, the Sattriya incorporates the essential principles for classical dance: the texts of Nritya and Natyashastra, such as the Natya Shastra, Abhinaya Darpana, and Sarangadeva’s Sangeet Ratnakar; Sarangdev’s music complements his devotion to Ratnakar.
  • The basic dance unit of a sattriya and the exercises are called mati akhadas, equal to 64 as in Natya Shastra, they are the basic set that dancers learn during their training.
  • The akhadas are divided into Ora, Sata, Jhalak, Sitika, Pak, Jap, Lone and Khar.
  • A performance integrates two styles, one masculine (paurashik bhangi, energetic and with jumps), and feminine (feminine bhangi, lasya or delicate).
  • Traditionally, Sattriya was performed only by Bhokotas (male monks) in monasteries as a part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals.
  • Today, in addition to this practice, Sattriya is also performed on stage by men and women who are not members of the Sattriya on subjects that go beyond mythology.
  • Choreographed plays in a sattriya are those found in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana, epics and compositions by Assamese scholars.


  • The Sattriya dance costume is mainly of two types: the male costume consisting of dhoti, chadar and pagdi (turban) and the female costume consisting of ghuri, chadar and kanchi (waist cloth).
  • Traditionally the costumes were colored white or raw silk with the use of red, blue and yellow for specific dance numbers. In earlier times velvet and satin materials were mostly used for costumes.
  • With the change of times, as this dance form evolved from the seventies to the stage, the design and material of the dance costumes changed. Paat (also spelled Paat) – a silk produced in Assam that is obtained from the mulberry plant and muga silk (the golden silk of Assam) is also used in the preparation of dance costumes.
  • Other bright colors are also used in women’s clothing. These hand-woven items usually have intricate local motifs like kingkhap, miri aakriti, kolka etc.
  • Use of sport-specific costumes is also seen in Sattriya dance. The costumes for Krishna dance and Nadubhangi dance are yellow and blue to match the dress of Lord Krishna. The Sutradhar dance also has its own distinctive white dress with a special turban.
  • Traditional Assamese ornaments are used in Sattriya dance. The jewelery is made in Kesa Sun (raw gold) by a unique technique.
  • Performers wear kopli, muthi kharu and gum kharu (bracelet) on the forehead, different types of neck pieces like mata moni (for male dancers), golpata, dhulbiri (musical instrument shaped like a drum), bena (crescent-shaped musical instrument) shaped pendant), jethipata (lizard shaped), dugdugi (leaf shaped), senpata (eagle shaped), dhansira (edge ​​of rice grain) and lokaparo (pigeon design). Earrings are made in similar designs and thuka suna and keru are also worn by the dancers. Female dancers wear white flowers in their hair.

Music And Instruments

  • Sattriya dance is accompanied by musical compositions called Bargeet (composed by Sankardeva and Sri Sri Madhavdev), which are based on classical ragas.
  • One of the major musical instruments that accompany a sattriya performance is the khol which is played with the fingers.
  • The special shape and construction material of the sattriya khol – clay, wood, leather, rice flour, iron filings, rope straps – produces a high pitch with the right side (diana), while a deep bass sound with the left side generates |
  • There are different types of taals or cymbals (manjira, bhortal, bihutal, patital, khutital) and flute (bansuri) with the shell. Other instruments like violin and harmonium are recent additions.


  • A sattriya performance comes in many styles such as sutradhara (or sutra-bhangi), character specific bhangi, prabesh, dance and jhumura.
  • Sutradhara is a genre that tells a story and presents the spiritual values ​​of Vaishnavism in a complete classical format: Nritta, Nritya and Natya. A feature of the sutradhara (or sutradhari) style is the inclusion of commentary in the local language for the audience.
  • Ankiya is a sub-genre of Nat Sattriya’s one-act plays. These are dedicatory compositions but include ballads, dances and dramas.
  • Different styles of character-specific sattriyas have their own costume variations, and focus on different stages and activities in the lives of Radha, Krishna and the gopis.
  • The facial makeup of the Sattriya dance is similar to other classical dance forms of India. However, in earlier times, traditional ingredients and herbs were used for makeup.

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