WHERE DID PUPPETSA BEGIN?
No one knows where puppetry first began, Most scholars feel puppetry as an art form began in China with the introduction of the shadow puppet. It is still, one of the safest ways to act out, act up, entertain, educate, commiserate, wonder out loud, unburden yourself or release your feelings. Its been used to see the good guys win and justice done. armor in a world of frustrations and disappointments, a wonderful place to find peace of mind and spirit.
OK THEN WHAT IS A PUPPET?
A figure whose movements are controlled by someone through, strings, rods, or hand movements… puppets were tribal ritual masks with hinged jaws or jointed skulls used in religious ceremonies. Evolving from these masks to doll like figures. Egyptians made ceremonial masks from terra cotta…puppet theater have been part of man’s history from the days of Plato and Aristotle.
The Cinese have made their puppets from stretched donkey skins, dried sheep skin, water buffaloes, pigs, or fish. These shadow puppets are translucent and painted in to give color, then placed in front of a screen and shine light through it. There are three rods attached, one to the neck and the other two to the hands for manipulation. When countries were over taken bands of traveling entertainers moved about taking their craft of puppetry with then and therefore introducing the craft to other parts of the world.
RELIGION AND PUPPETRY
Middle ages saw churches use puppetry to spread the doctrine, the puppeteers were the monks and priests, of course the story of the birth of Jesus was the favorite story. Many historians believe that the name Marionettes meaning little Mary came from this story, or marotte meaning fools scepter.
In the 15th and 16th century new ideas came about for puppets other then religion, comedy was one of them, puppetry moved out of the churches in into the streets, where they were used in fairs for the common people, soon being enjoyed all over Europe and marionette theaters were common place.
17th century hand puppets were the rage, a head with some cloth that fit over the puppeteers hand, easier to manover and less expensive to make. Because of this the puppets became more portable and easier to move around on the back of a wagon, at this time Punch and Judy characters began popping up here and there, local politics played a big role in the stories that were told. The puppets could comment on subjects the masses couldn’t.
So we see that puppets played a large role all over the world for many centuries, in the New World, in the 20th century with the advent of television Howdy Doody was popular for 13 years, as well as Kukla Fran and Ollie for many many decades…Mr. Rogers neighborhood and oh so many many more TV shows made puppets in America so very popular.
The puppeteer breathes life into the puppet and manipulates it so that as we watch we are caught up in the story and we believe what we see and hear.
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