Category Archives: Myanmar

Puppetry in Myanmar

During the first half of the 16th century, the Taungoo Dynasty was born. Together with Taungoo kings, they gave birth to key administrative and economic reforms that made Konbaung Dynasty — the other half of the dynasty that reigned during the 16th century– prosperous. It also took the title of being one of the most literate states in Asia at that time. It is said that  the traditional Burmese string puppet started sometime in the 11th century. The wooden puppets served to entertain the Burmese royals during that time. [1, 2]

It usually takes 20 days for the making of a complete dressed Burmese puppet. A wooden doll that has strings attached on every joint of it including the puppet’s eyebrows to help manipulate the emotions of the puppet. Before people performed marionettes with 60 strings on it but as time passed it was reduced to 12 strings per puppet. Their dresses are made from hand-stitched costumes with gold thread or embroidery. There are 28 main characters in traditional Burmese puppet shows, ranging from gods, animals, monsters, and royals. [3 4] 

Traditional Burmese Puppet troupes traveled from one place to another to tell stories, perform songs, dance and even inform villagers of court intrigues and politics. This art form that was made for the entertainment of royalties became a revolution that changed the perspective of people during that time. 

References:

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Myanmar

2 https://www.gomyanmartours.com/myanmar-puppetry/#:~:text=The%20History%20of%20Myanmar%20Puppetry,to%20combine%20it%20with%20dances.

3 http://neocha.com/magazine/puppets-of-myanmar/

4 https://sites.google.com/site/thingsmyanmar/myanmar-marionettes