November 27, 2009

Hand Puppetry

It was a unique experience to interact with the figures of 1970’s most popular TV entertainment -Hand Puppetry. Located on Yi Tong Street, Taipei, “See- Join Hand Puppet Theater” is an awesome place to have the stage experience, learn, interact and have fun with the traditional Taiwanese folk art- Hand Puppetry. Taiwanese cuisine is also offered before all the interacting activities.

The long term customers came to spend the afternoon together in the theater by playing games and drinking teas.

We got there around noon for lunch. We knew that the stage performance was only offered for the dinner time. With the warm hospitality of Master Bill Chen, the owner of the theater, we received and experienced much more than we expected by the time we left the theater. It also led me to become fascinated with the Hand Puppetry folk art history, figures, and performance. Thank you dearly, Master Chen!

Taiwanese Hand Puppetry is also named “Budasi”(布袋戲). It was originally brought over from southern part of China, Chuanchow and Changchow areas during the Ching Dynasty. Because of the movement is controlled by hands, it is also called “in-the-hand theater (Chang Chung Si,掌中戲). It was the main outdoor stage entertainment for the early period of Taiwan. Hand Puppetry was also known as “Classic Budasi”( 古典布袋戲) at that time.

After the retrocession of Taiwan, the performers of the hand puppet shows have integrated the art with modern visual sensibilities. Hand Puppetry was introduced in television and “Gold-Light” Hand Puppet (金光布袋戲) became so popular. The "Shih Yan Wen" (史豔文) and "2-Teeth" (Len Kee, 二齒) figures were introduced by Master Houng, Jun-Shyong (黃俊雄), who became the legendary characters of family TVs. All office work stopped during the day while Budasi was on TV. After 1998, the son of Master Houng renovated the Gold-Light Budasi with computer technology, and 3D animation to attract to younger audiences; “Pili Budasi” (霹靂布袋戲) was introduced and also led the Taiwan’s Budasi to the international stage until now.

Here are the sizes of the three generations of the Budasi figures: The Classic figure is about 30 cm tall, the Gold-Light figure about 45 cm, and the Pili figure about 80cm which weighs about 2 kg. In performing Classic Budasi, a performer could wear and switch to several figures on both hands during a show; however, a performer could only perform one Pili figure for one show because of the weight.

The body parts can move for the Pili figure while Classic figure can't. The body parts are controlled separately by another hand to make them lively. Here is the trick in controlling the eye movement: Pulling down the iron wire hidden inside the clothes to make the eyes close.

Budasi is not only offering skillful performance on the stage, but also presenting a piece of precious art display. A figure consists of three parts- Heads, Clothing and Headgear, and Weapons and Props. Budasi has also successfully introduced the traditional Chinese or Taiwanese legend stories to all ages of audiences. The difference between Budasi and western puppets is that Budasi shows mainly people figures while the western puppets animal figures.

The happy comedian figure can also perform fire show on the stage from his mouth. You can tell the burn mark around his mouth. A weapon is also an important part of the figure. How to pull out a sword would definitely need an intensive practice.

Here is the fun part! Master Chen was showing us some basic controlling skills of the figure. Right and Left hand movement; flying the figure with its two legs swinging back and forth; throwing the figure up vertically and catching it on his fingers. Believe me; it takes lots of eye-hand coordination!! He recommended us to practice these skills in bed with soft surface, so it will not damage the figure.

Here are the puppets for practicing. They were made sturdier than the display puppets. They were made with wooden head, hands, and feet while the display figures with plastics.

I am giving myself a few months to practice the above skills, and hopefully I will be able to achieve just one when we visit the Master again!

Lots of culture and folk art can be explored by just engaging in the Taiwan Hand Puppetry activities. This is just the start… will be sharing more when the discovery continues...

SEE-JOIN Hand Puppet Theater (敘舊布袋戲園)

2F, No 46, Yi-Tong Street , Taipei, Taiwan (台北市伊通街46號2樓)

TEL: 02-2506-7447

http://www.see-join.com.tw/

Read More

22 comments:

Carrie said...

Terrific photos and commentary! I've been meaning to go to the hand puppet theater for quite some time now. I just never seem to be able to find an afternoon to do it. Your post has inspired me to kick it up. Thank you!

By the way, I was wondering if you would be interested in adding your photos to Taiwan Photographers? We have a group pool on Flickr at www.flickr.com/taiwanphotographers/ Photos that are submitted there are considered for our photo of the day series. We also have a Facebook group. All of our updates go out to a group of around 600 members so it's a great chance to some extra publicity and exposure. I'd love to feature your work!

www.taiwanphotographers.com

Micki and Kristen said...

Hi, Carrie
Thank you so much for your compliment and your invitation! It will be our great honor to share photos in Taiwan Photographers. Will it be okay to have both my and Kristen's photos included for the album name as " Wandering Taiwan" in flickr?

Todd said...

Excellent pics, looks like a great place to visit!

micki and kristen said...

Thanks, Todd. It will be a very neat experience!

catherine_sr. said...

What a great post! I love your blog, the photos are great and you write about everything in so much detail!

micki and kristen said...

Thanks again, Catherine. Your compliment is very appreciated!

Jorge Miyashiro said...

Awesome post and photos.
I'm translated your post for portuguese readers e picked some photos with all credits and link to your blog. It's only non-profits interest, just to display your work for puppetry lovers.
I hope you don't care about.
the blog is: www.miyashiroteatro.blogspot.com
Thank You !

micki and kristen said...

Thanks, Jorge for translating the Hand Puppetry article in Portuguese and linking our blog as the source. It's always good to reach out to more readers. Hope more readers in the world will find Taiwan's Hand Puppets interesting!

Jorge Miyashiro said...

I'm puppeteer and... for me, taiwan's hand puppetry is the best! Your article shows a interesting face in life of the Master.

micki and kristen said...

Very nice to meet a puppeteer! More we know about Taiwan's hand puppetry, more we want to discover! We may post another article for the puppet stage performance soon! There is also another interesting folk art of Taiwan's is "Shadow Puppetry". Thanks, Jorge.

lohang said...

Simply fascinating!!! Found your blog via a post on Global Voices. Really enjoyed browsing through :-)

micki and kristen said...

Hi, lohang, thanks for visiting us and your comments! Your abstract paintings are very interesting and appealing.

Nick Matyas said...

Its really nice post....
I was searching this kind of posting .....
I just liked it....
Thanks....

webroyalty

micki and kristen said...

To Nick- Glad you enjoyed this post, and thanks for your comment!

Nahim de Liébana said...

Nice. Unas marionetas increibles!

micki and kristen said...

Hi, Nahim, thanks for visiting! Muchas Gracias!

Jorge Miyashiro said...

I'm just saw a film, Tea Fight, by Wang Yemin. There are some puppets and tea... I guess it's shoot in Master Chen place's. Very moving! Beautifull!

micki and kristen said...

Hi, Jorge
I have seen the film of "Tea Flight". I think it was filmed at "Hand Puppetry Exhibition House" in Danshui, Taipei County. Most of the scenes were filmed there~~ Hope you will enjoy the new post about the "Puppet Carving and Museum":)

KISSARMYDeafGSW said...

ask you, where to buy PILI PUPPET DRAMA DOLLS i want order that make me deathly love it! i need them so badly! :D email me back at gilkiss@usmo.com and wait for your answer to me back. thanks!

aliah said...

When you are looking to make hand puppet, first of all you should have good hand puppet idea because good hand puppet idea can make your puppet look attractive.
puppets for sale

http://www.marionettes-puppets.com/

XDGG said...

Thanks needed the info... Its pretty good though...

XDGG said...

Thanks needed the info... Its pretty good though...

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails