Yakshagana is the most famous theatre form of Karnataka. In Yakshagana theatre, dance, music, dialogue all are harmoniously blended. Its theatre tradition goes back to the 17 th century. Not only is it very old but it is a continous tradition. For 400 years it has entertained and instructed the rural masses of Karnataka. Its main attractions are its gorgeous masks and costumes and themes from the Epics of India.
Technically Yakshagana is often described by such terms as Bayalata, Doddata and Moodalapaya (acquired through ancestral inheritance). Yet another form of Yakshagana goes under a proxy, as Paduvalapaya which means Yakshagana of the west coastal region. The coastal artists make eloborate arrangements about the costumes they put on. It is meticulous and complex in regard to the make up, what with colour and paint, trimming of eye brows and head gear, neatly folded but bloated up canvas, hair style and ornaments. But the same cannot be said of the artists of the other two regions, where dresses and costumes and make up are handy and ready made. Yakshagana draws its sustenance from the written text. The sources stem from the mythological themes, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Puranas and Bhagavatha. Musical instruments that accompany Yakshagana performance include the Jagate, Shruti, Chande, Maddale and Cymbals.