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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Traditional Chinese Puppet Show For Thursday Challenge



Recently, I chance upon this traditional Chinese puppet show near a Chinese temple in Klang. It was put up during the birthday celebrations, called The Feast of A Thousand Autumns of the resident God of a Taoist temple. A loudspeaker is used and the opera songs and dialogues are recorded and broadcasted. Two puppeters worked behind the curtains to control the movement of the little puppets. The whole session was conducted in Hokkien, the most widely spoken Chinese dialect in Klang.

Shows like these a becoming a rarity now, being replaced by stage performances by modern singers and dancers. Perhaps if you have watched the Jackie Chan movie, the Karate Kid 2010 starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, you will remember a scene where there is a puppet show depicting the chinese Valentine lovers Niulang and Zhinu.


The folloing is an excerpt from the Cultural-China.com website, the link is here.

These puppet shows are called "marionette shows" in ancient China. It is a theatre performance where puppet figures are made to move by puppeteers hidden behind the stage. Movements are made by pulling strings or by hands.

In China, the origin of puppets dates back to the Shang Dynasty, when the custom of burying slaves alive with their deceased masters was practiced. Of the 3,000 funeral objects excavated from the Yin Ruins in Anyang City, there are pottery figurines of slaves with cangues. In the Warring States Period, there appeared entertaining figurines used in story-telling and singing performances as props. And such art forms became popular. After the Han Dynasty, a puppet show gradually developed into a folk art combining opera, literature, sculpture and painting that appealed to both humans and divinities.

During the Three Kingdoms Period, there were "water-driven one hundred play" featuring exquisitely-made puppets performing humanlike singing, dancing and acrobatics. In the Song Dynasty, puppet shows enjoyed an unprecedented boom, with a wide variety of puppet types used in the plays, including string puppets, rod puppets, water puppets, pyrotechnic puppets, iron stick puppets, glove puppets and flesh puppets etc.

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, puppet plays caught on in all areas. By integrating with local operas, various kinds of regional puppet plays came into being, such as Heyang string puppet play of Shaanxi and Zhangzhou glove puppet play of Fujian. Puppet shows also advanced with the times. After the movie came into being, they found their way into the movie field, creating increasing impact of puppet shows.

In former times, a puppet show was one of the most popular entertaining art forms among ordinary people. Such shows were usually staged on occasions like sacrificial rituals and festive banquets, adding color to people's life. In modern times, however, puppet shows suffered decline due to war chaos. But they caught on again shortly after the war.


This is my entry for Thursday Challenge, the Photo Theme this week is  "MUSIC" (Singing, Dancing, Playing, Instruments, iPods, Concerts,...). To view what others have for today, click here.

1 comment:

  1. A few years ago I saw a puppet show in my neighbourhood, I think it was during the Hungry Ghost Festival. I was more intrigue in the puppeteers backstage than the show itself since I don't understand the language.

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