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The History of Puppetry

Puppetry is considered one of the oldest art forms in history. There are countless writings from Ancient eras that talk about the puppet theater. They were used in Ancient China and their popularity grew once they were introduced in Europe too. Now, there are countless puppet theaters all over the world. It is still considered one of the most beautiful and interesting forms of acting because the actor must use their voice to enhance each scene. Maneuvering the puppet is an art itself because the difficulty involved, from hand puppets to puppets that have movable jaws and limb, is very high. But not many puppet theater enthusiasts know the history behind this art form. We have listed some of the key moments in the history of puppetry to better understand this amazing art.

Ancient Use

The first record of a puppet comes from Ancient Egypt. The writings say that there were “walking statues” used in the drama plays. Once the tombs from the Valley of the Kings were discovered, many people were surprised to find puppets buried with the pharaohs. They were very expensive and difficult to make. They were usually made of clay and ivory. The puppeteer was considered a true artist and most of the plays used puppets.

In Africa puppets were used mainly in ceremonies. They would represent different gods and they were very beautifully made. Later, they were used in plays and different celebrations. The design is very similar to the Egyptian one and the historians believe that the Africans inspired their models of puppets from the Egyptian one.

Asia really liked puppetry. From India to Thailand, every country used puppets in plays or in ceremonials or dances. The traditional Thai dances feature a very interesting one in which the puppets dance. It is one of the most interesting traditions that use puppets. In China, the puppets would be used behind a paper wall. It is considered by many the first version of a cinema. The light going through the paper wall would only show the silhouettes of the puppets while the actors were speaking or singing.

Modernization of Puppetry

The true puppet theater is considered to have developed during the 18th and 19th century in Italy during the Enlightenment period. This period was vital for the later popularity of the puppets. There were special plays written specially for puppet shows and there were countless actors that would specialize in this field. France also brought some new techniques and started using animal puppets too. The popularity of the puppet theaters spread all over the world and the making of the puppets was considered a true art form. This is the more modern form of puppetry that you still see in shows today.

The rebirth of the puppet shows came with the amazing Sesame Street. This show was hugely popular in the US and it is still one of the favorite family-friendly shows of the world. They use only puppets, and this is one of the main reasons why this show is so popular and loved by everyone.

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