Vintage Puppets & Puppet Heads

Burmese Puppetry: Yok-Thei

Puppetry has been popular in Burma since the latter part of the 17th century. This is in contrast to shadow puppetry which has been less popular than in Thailand & Malaysia. The origin of puppetry in Burma is obscure. Despite the late development in Burmese cultural history, Yok Thei or Burmese Puppetry,preceded drama & clearly influenced it but remained more popular. This may have been partly due to the social convention that prevented unmarried men & women from appearing together on stage, hindering the development of drama. But,whatever the reason, puppetry shows were considered to be serious entertainment for adult audiences rather than for children.

Puppet shows were patronized by the Burmese kings who had official  Thabin-wun, at court who was in charge of performances. The themes of the plays are taken from stories of the Buddha's previous births, Jatakas & incidents in Burmese history. As well as providing entertainment these had a moral element such as the triumph of virtue over life & acted as an outlet for popular comment on political affairs.

The traditional group of puppets is 28, which includes animals, courtiers, a king, a prince & clowns.

Every Road Leads Somewhere: A Burmese Saying

Nilar

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Chesa

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Prins

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Daungg

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Kyi & Bennu: A Couple

Mengh

Wambile k Luutway:a pair

Prines & Prins:

a couple

Klahan

Sumalee & Sumana

a couple

Kittibun

Asnee

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Naked Boys

Shway

Sekwin

Wayang Golek: Javanese Puppets

Wayang refers to a variety of Indonesian theatrical forms. Wayang Golek is a rod puppet: under the costume there is a wooden rod used to hold the puppet and then each hand is attached to wooden sticks allowing the puppet master, the Dalang, to create the performance. This is a popular tradition on the North coast of Java & in Sundra, the highlands of West Java. The Dalang tells tales from the Javanese traditions such as stories of Prince Panji's endless search for his beloved princess, or of grass cutter Damar Wulan's rise from doing menial work to marrying a queen, defeating her bitter foe.

For over 1000 years these performances have been a way to address the conundrums of life.Lively puppet traditions have portrayed epic stories that shrank the cosmos down into a miniature world.

The Dalang chants: The Dalang dances the puppets, The Puppets are danced not knowing in whose hand. The screen hides the Lord, the power unseen.

The chant expresses the parallel between the Dalang & the mysterious divine force. Wayang is a key to

Indonesian thinking: reflecting the lives & world view of the people.

The Dalang sits on a raised platform & can operate several puppets at the same time with an ingenious device: The Banana Log

He starts as an apprentice, Catrik, at the age of 10 to 12

There are many types of puppet characters. The ones in my collection are:

Refined Characters: White faces, bowed heads with small downcast eyes...The Heroines / Heroes

Semi Refined Characters: White or pink faces, slightly upright heads with eyes gazing straight forward

These antique puppets have been well used in productions for many years. They were not made for the tourist trade.

With Willingness there is a Possibility... An Indoneson Proverb

  Puppet making is a skill handed down through families like so many Indonesian crafts.The head is made by the master puppet maker because the head expresses the personality of the puppet. Ceremonies are performed before making a deity or demon. Bodies are often made by younger members of the family. Arms are attached at the elbow & shoulders with string. The hand shape expresses character & role as well.A rod passes from a hole in the base of the head & down through the body to form a handle. They are always fully clothed in Central Javanese traditional dress with batik sarongs made by the women in the families.

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Yolande

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Cahyo

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Sinta

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Eko

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Bethari

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Utari

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Svetlana

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Wulan

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Cambree

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Trisha

The following puppet heads have been collected over time and put on stands for easy display. They are Burmese, Yok Thei, Puppet Heads. They are mostly in great condition. Some have mouths that open and close...and one you can even pull a string for the tongue to come out.

Most of them have glass eyes... We find them charming!

The Way is not in the Sky. The Way is in the Heart

Cetan & Inzali

Hayman & Yeshe

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Denpo

Zaw,Zenji & Zeya

Beh

Thiha

Opame

Oh,Maung,Lat,Ngi

Nyunt & Zar

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