History of Puppets


What are puppets?

Well, if you're at the Puppet Mall you probably already know but I'll continue anyway. Puppets are creatures, people characters or animals which are manipulated by a person either directly by the hand or fingers. Some are controlled by strings or rods as well. In controlling or maneuvering the puppets the person at the controls has the capability of putting on a show for an audience. The art of puppets goes way back in time, some say to 500 BC primarily in Europe . That's about 2500 years ago and is very difficult to imagine but true. From there came puppetry in India and China . The use of puppets were primarily related to theater, but in many cultures the primary purpose of puppets were for religious and ritual purposes.

One may wonder, which came first, the human theater or the puppet theater. Actually we do not know the answer to that, but it could very well be that they both followed and evolved in a parallel manner throughout history as they both are entertaining to a human audience. But what has occurred through the ages is a decline of puppet theater with serious subject matter and important meaning and is more or less taking a back seat to human theater and drama. This is especially true in the Western World. One could make the argument that the decline of the puppet theater and the popularity of the human stage is due to television, movies and Broadway type performances world wide. However there is still a very large and popular demand for puppetry in pre-schools, vacation bible schools, Christian Ministries and other educational forums.

What kind of puppets are there?

There are many but I will go into several of the more popular ones.

  • One of the most common is the Hand Puppet. This is very easy to handle and manipulate by the puppeteer as this puppet is controlled either by the puppeteers hand or hand and fingers. Usually the puppet is made of a hollow cloth exterior body and the persons hand and fingers fit inside the body. Here the puppets head, arms and upward body are manipulated by the person. Typically the puppet has no legs or lower body. These small figures lends themselves to having multiple puppets in a theater in a play performed by several puppeteers.

  • Another type puppet is the Rod Puppet. This hand-rod puppet is controlled by a rod which is positioned up through the body of the puppet from the bottom into the head. It may also have smaller rods for arm movement. The puppeteer puts his or her hand into the body of the puppet and has control of the rod in the head. The puppeteer can also manipulate the arms of the puppet by smaller rods positioned to the arms.

  • Marionettes are full length figures which are manipulated by the puppeteer via strings or wires from above the puppet. This particular type of puppet and the control of it takes a great deal of practice and skill. To control the hands, legs, shoulder, head and body requires a minimum of nine (9) strings. To achieve further movement over and above the basic ones will require additional strings. Since it is the most difficult to operate, it does not lend itself to the popularity and demand of hand puppets.

I hope we have given you an insight of puppets and hope you will return to one of our stores to look over our beautiful, loving and adorable puppets.

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