Ankiya Nat of Assam was created by Sankaradeva (c.1449–1568) who was an ardent devotee of Krsna.

Ankiya means "act" and nat means "drama". Sankaradeva charged all leaders of the religious order in the state to write one act plays during their lifetime. Thus there are only one act plays in the repertory. Amateur performers come together to rehearse and perform the art usually during festival occasions.

The roofed open space below is a temporary nam-ghar or prayer hall in a large town. Prayers are conducted in front of the manikut, the small orange thatched roofed hut in which is kept the sacred test, the Bhagavata Purana containing the words, the teachings, of Krsna (Visnu). Ankiya Nat is performed in the nam-ghar. A corridor is left open between the manikut and the opposite end of the nam-ghar and is used as an acting area. Audiences sit facing each other similar to audiences at a tennis match.


Below are illustrations of effigies used in performance to symbolize the demonic characters.

Music of Ankiya Nat

Stagemanager and Effigy of demon with villagers



A stage manager, such as the ones seen in the pictures below guides the dramatic action and the plot and often dances in the opening rituals. In the black and white photo taken inside a nam-ghar the stage manager wears a white headdress and carries a copy of the script which he frequently consults to prompt the actors, like those with masks and a crown. Any scenic pieces are arranged behind the audience and away from the main corridor where most of the action takes place.
Two monkey characters fight a battle along the corridor between the audience. The stage manager sits watching and guiding the action.