A Brief History of Puppetry
No one knows where puppetry
What Is A Puppet?
What is a puppet? A figure whose movements are controlled by someone through, strings, rods, or hand movements.
Some of the earliest kinds of
puppets were tribal
ritual masks with hinged jaws or jointed skulls used in religious ceremonies. Puppets seemed to have evolved from these masks to doll like figures with moving limbs.
Native American Indians used puppets in their corn festivals and ceremonial dances.
Puppet theater is mentioned in both
China made shadow puppets from stretched donkey skins, dried sheep skin, water buffaloes, pigs, or fish. Shadow puppets are translucent figures colored in with paints. These figures are placed in front of a screen with light passing through it.
The shadow of the figures appear clearly to the audience on the other side. They usually have three rods or strings attached to them. The puppeteer uses one hand to control the rod attached to the neck and the other hand to control the rods attached to its wrists.
Puppetry has survived due to the efforts of all the world's puppeteers through the ages. When Rome was overrun by barbarians and puppet theater vanished, it was the traveling puppeteers who kept the art and the craft alive. Troupes of puppeteers, jesters, jugglers and entertainers breathed new life into the
world's tales and histories,
In The Middle Ages the Christian Church used puppets to spread church doctrine.
small jointed figures operated with strings,
were used to enact the story. The name Marionette , meaning "Little Mary" may have come from the figure of The Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, in the telling of the Nativity story. It may also have come from the word marotte
In the fourteenth or fifteenth century puppeteers began to explore themes other than religious ones. A comedic influence began to emerge. The Church decided puppets were no longer suitable for their teaching. However, puppet theater found a new home in the streets and fairs of the working class. By the sixteenth century, puppet theaters existed all over Europe. Marionette operas were popular.
In the seventeenth century, hand puppets, figures with heads and a body of cloth which fit over the puppeteers hand, became popular. They were easier to operate, cheaper to make and more mobile. Shows could be given from the back of wagons and from small portable stages. Puppet characters like Punch and Judy became popular and shows centering around local politics became common. These puppets could comment on things the masses could not.
Puppets have been used by storytellers to illuminate and entertain for centuries.
The puppeteer breathes life into his creations and we believe in them, all bound together with the magic that is puppet theater.
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