April 8, 2013

Prop closet treasure

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:32 am by chavisory

I was reorganizing a props closet recently when I found this fellow.

Puppet 1

I got all of his strings untangled to try to see how he works; he’s a marionette, but seems to be missing the wooden handhold that would allow a puppeteer to operate his legs independently from his arms and head.

He’s beautiful, and also clearly not a toy or a prop.  He looks like a traditional puppet of some kind.  (In most cultures other than ours, puppet theater is a serious traditional storytelling form for adults as well as children.)  And here’s my real embarrassment:  I wrote my final paper for graduation with honors in college on the religious frameworks underpinning various East Asian puppet theater traditions…and I had no idea what this guy is.

puppet face

He looks Indian or Hindu, perhaps, and preliminary image Googling reveals a resemblance to the string puppets of a tradition called Bommalattam, but those marionettes are described as being about 3 feet tall, and this one is only just over a foot, and also more detailed and ornate.  I dug out a copy of my paper to skim through, but he doesn’t fit the description of anything that I studied.

puppet feet

It’s past my bedtime, but I’m a little obsessed now with figuring out more about him.  I’ll have to resume research in the morning, though if anyone else is geek enough to have any idea, I would be thankful to know.