Category Archives: Singapore

Puppetry in Singapore

The art scene in Singapore is highly influenced by Chinese and European cultures. World War II led to significant changes, which subject its styles to different phases of transformations and development throughout the decades echoing the country’s multicultural nature. Throughout, it remained to be heterogeneous; a distinctive characteristic of the identity of Singaporean society and culture.


Town Mouse and Country Mouse (2013) glove puppets (lifted from

The human hands play an essential role in puppet performance and practice, whether to cast shadows on the wall or a screen, to create movements after being concealed by a glove-like material to project a distinct figure, and occasionally through mechanical aid such as strings and rods.

Fig. 2: Chinese glove puppet lifted from

Glove puppets from the show “Romance of Mistakes” (Paper Monkey Theatre, Singapore)

Hand or glove puppets are some of the major classifications of puppet performance and practice. However, the contemporary puppet theatre community considers the bare-hand puppetry and glove puppetry as distinctly different puppet practices.

Because of its portability, hand puppetry and glove puppetry are the most widely known form of puppetry in the world. Countries vary in origins, design, and characteristics of their hand and glove puppets and practices. Bare-hand puppetry, which utilizes minimal to no props, is pure mime and by its name, uses the hand alone as puppet itself.

In glove puppetry, the hand and the forearm are concealed with materials formed to create a figure, from simple crafted everyday materials to meticulously sculpted faces and designed costumes. In Asia, Chinese glove puppets (also known as potehi) vary according to region. The glove puppet masters are usually working in relatively small puppets, with loose sleeves for agility and flexible handling of props such as weapons and sticks. 

Glove  puppets from the show “Romance of Mistakes” (Paper Monkey Theatre, Singapore)