Paikali dance which now survives in northern Orissa, especially in the districts of Mayrubhanj and Keonjhar, is a much stylized form of dance. It is marked for its leg extensions and stylized gaits which are very much similar to those of the widely known Chhau dances. Each of the Paikali dancers hold a sword in the right and a shield in the left hand. While dancing they also sing in a recitative style. They smear their bodies with a whitish kind of earth called Kaimati. A major segment of the dance is mock attack-and-defense called Ruk-maar-nacha which is the foundation of the Chhau dances. The orchestral music that accompanies Paikali is as rich as appealing. The orchestra consists of three kinds of drum, such as Dhol, a barrel shaped drum that dominates the music, Dhumsa, a huge kettledrum made of wood and Chadchadi, somewhat like snare drum. The melodic music is provided by Mahuri, a reeded wind instrument like Shehnai but with a sharper timber. The much evolved Chhau (see our Recreational Folk Dances) comprises the same musical instruments. Watching Paikali one will be convinced that it is the precursor of Chhau dances.
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