Kathakali, everything about the characters’
makeup--from colors employed to the attachment of beards,
bulbous noses, bangles and adornments--is deeply symbolic.
The makeup is designed to indicate the intrinsic nature
of each character. And each character falls into one of
six categories: Pacha, Kathi,
Thadi, Kari, Minukku
or Theppu. Thadi means
beard, and whether beards are red, black or white, these
hirsute characters denote a distinct type of wickedness.
The red Thadi are the most wicked of all:
they represent a destructive evil energy with virtually
no thinking capacity. They can be rakshasas,
or demons; or men like Veerabhadra born out of the fire
of Shiva ‘the destroyer’ and therefore an agent
of destruction and blind obedience.