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Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form that originated in South India, is a mesmerizing blend of rhythm, expression, and grace. Every element of this art form, from intricate footwork to emotive gestures, plays a vital role in conveying stories and emotions.

One such element that often goes unnoticed but is crucial to a Bharatanatyam dancer’s performance is the Bharatanatyam eyeliner.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the significance of Bharatanatyam eyeliner, its history, application techniques, and how it enhances the beauty of this ancient dance form.

Bharatanatyam, one of India’s oldest classical dance forms, is a captivating spectacle that combines intricate movements, rich storytelling, and an immersive experience.

Every aspect of this art form is carefully curated to convey deep emotions and stories. One such subtle yet essential element is the Bharatanatyam eyeliner, which adds to the dancer’s expressiveness and elegance.

Bharatanatyam: A Glimpse into the Dance Form

Bharatanatyam is a dance form that dates back over 2,000 years. It originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu, India, and is characterized by its precise footwork, intricate hand gestures, and emotive expressions.

This classical dance form serves as a medium to narrate mythological tales, convey emotions, and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of South India.

The Elegance of Bharatanatyam Eyeliner

The Bharatanatyam eyeliner is a subtle yet essential aspect of a dancer’s makeup. It serves to enhance the expressiveness of the eyes, making them more prominent and captivating.

The eyeliner, often characterized by bold and intricate designs, adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the dancer’s face and helps convey emotions to the audience.

The History and Tradition

The tradition of using eyeliner in Bharatanatyam dates back centuries. It is deeply rooted in the culture and aesthetics of South India.

The practice of adorning the eyes with eyeliner not only enhances the dancer’s facial expressions but also pays homage to the art form’s historical and cultural significance.

The Art of Bharatanatyam Eyeliner Application

Choosing the Right Eyeliner

Selecting the appropriate eyeliner for Bharatanatyam is crucial. Dancers often opt for kajal (kohl) or kohl pencils, which are known for their deep pigmentation and smooth application.

The choice of eyeliner may also depend on the dancer’s skin type and sensitivity.

The Techniques of Application

Applying Bharatanatyam eyeliner is an art in itself. Dancers follow a specific set of techniques to achieve the desired look:

Thin Upper Line: A thin line is drawn along the upper lash line to define the eyes.

Elaborate Lower Liner: The lower lash line is adorned with intricate designs that vary in complexity, symbolizing different emotions and characters.

Widened Outer Corners: The outer corners of the eyes are extended and widened to create a visually appealing shape.

Bindi Placement: The application of a bindi, a decorative forehead dot, is often coordinated with the eyeliner design to achieve a harmonious look.

Symbolism and Expression

In Bharatanatyam, every aspect of the dance, including the eyeliner, carries symbolism and contributes to storytelling.

The eyeliner’s design and application can reflect the character being portrayed, conveying emotions such as love, anger, or devotion.

It adds depth and authenticity to the dancer’s performance, allowing the audience to connect with the narrative on a profound level.

Maintenance and Removal

Maintaining the Bharatanatyam eyeliner throughout a performance is essential. Dancers often use makeup setting sprays or powders to ensure that the eyeliner remains intact, even during rigorous dance sequences.

After the performance, gentle makeup removers or cleansing oils are used to delicately remove the eyeliner without causing any harm to the eyes or skin.

Bharatanatyam eyeliner products, including kajal and kohl pencils, can be found in various cosmetic stores in South India, particularly in regions with a strong cultural connection to the dance form.

Additionally, these products are readily available online, making them accessible to dancers and enthusiasts worldwide who wish to embrace the artistry of Bharatanatyam eyeliner.


In conclusion, the Bharatanatyam eyeliner is a subtle yet integral part of this classical dance form. It adds elegance, expressiveness, and cultural depth to the dancer’s performance.

The intricate designs and symbolic elements of the eyeliner enhance storytelling, allowing Bharatanatyam to continue captivating audiences and preserving its rich cultural heritage.

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