glove puppetry

Puppet show (Hokkien pronunciation: boo dei hi), also known as puppet show, hand puppet show, handbag puppet show, palm play, small cage, and finger flower show, originated in the 17th century in Quanzhou, Fujian, China, and is the most commonly seen One of the Han folk opera performances. [1] It is one of the traditional local dramas of the Minnan language family [8].

The puppet’s head is a hollow human head carved from wood. Except for the puppet’s head, the puppet’s palms and the puppet’s feet, the puppet’s body and limbs are all made of cloth in clothing; gloves are used in the performance. Perform puppetry performances in the costumes of the puppets.
And because the puppets in this type of performance in the early stage are very much like “bags made of cloth”, they have the general name of puppet show.


Generally speaking, scholars believe that the origin of puppet show is Quanzhou, Fujian, and the time is about the 17th century. In terms of subsequent development, the puppet theater genre is difficult to distinguish due to its development area spanning Fujian and Taiwan, coupled with their respective development and exchanges and integration in different periods. If the most rough point is to talk about performance style, it can be divided into traditional puppet show and modern puppet show. Under this classification, even in Taiwan, where puppet shows are still very popular, the audience for traditional puppet shows is much lower than that of modern puppet shows. The commonly known genre of puppet show actually refers to the genre of traditional puppet show.

Similar to the puppet show, they are called “Gou Lizi” in Beijing, “Biandan Opera” in the Northeast, “Mu Nao Shell Opera” in Sichuan, and “Pole Shaping Opera” in Xi’an and Lanzhou. “It is called “mantle play” in Eastern Fujian, “glove puppet” in Ningbo, and “puppet play” in southern Fujian, Cangnan, Chongming Island, Southeast Asia and other southern Fujian dialects.

When the puppet show originated, there is no clear textual research. Jin Dynasty Wang Jia’s “Supplementary Records” records: “The southern part of the South, the kingdom of Fulou, the people change with skill… or the music of the beasts in the palm, and the flexion in the fingers. The human form or a few minutes long, Or plural inches, the gods are swift and mysterious.” Female scholar Ding Yanzhao once found in the well-known Dunhuang Mogao Grotto 31 Grottoes a mural “Nongchu” painted in the prosperous Tang Dynasty. It shows a woman raising her arm. , The use of fingertips to show children. Wang Jia’s description of the skills in the palm of his hand and the situation depicted in the Tang frescoes are similar to those of today’s puppets. If they are of the same form, then the puppets or puppets should have appeared before the Tang or Jin Dynasties, but No clearer records have been found, and it is still difficult to confirm that the puppet show was first seen before the Tang Dynasty.

The origins of Cangnan’s single-stage puppet show are two types: the theory of entering the north and entering the south, but from the perspectives of its title, the performance style based on acting, the use of southern Fujian dialect, and the performance in the southern Fujian dialect. The southern school of puppet show originating in southern Fujian is the Anxi school. It is said that it was introduced with Fujian immigrants in the middle and late Qing Dynasty. According to the artist Li Bulian, Lu Hong, a native of Wufeng Township in Cangnan, was one of the main genres of puppet play in Cangnan. An artist based in Quanzhou, Fujian.

However, due to the long history and human beings, the puppet show has evolved into multiple forms in southern Fujian. There is no ancient single-stage puppet show in southern Fujian. The origin of the single-stage puppet show that can be preserved in Cangnan can only be traced back to the Qing Dynasty. During the Daoguang period.

According to the census, more than 50 puppet show artists with surnames can be found in Cangnan from the time of Daoguang to the present. These artists are mainly divided into two genres: Lingxi School and Wufeng School, each of which has its own performance characteristics.

In the Qing Dynasty, Li Dou’s “Yangzhou Painted Boat Record” contained “…Use five fingers to transport three-inch puppets, the golden drum is noisy, and the idiom is called 颡子, and it is called a shoulder-carried play.” “Yangzhou Painted Boat Record” The “shoulder and shoulder play” in the memory is more the same as the puppet show in the form of performance. Volume 72 of “Jinjiang County Chronicles” published in the Jiaqing Period of the Qing Dynasty, “Following the Dongxiao and Pipa”: “There are people who practice Dongxiao and Pipa, and those who beat the beat, the heaven and the earth can be heard. The predecessors did not think of music and music, but I thought that the tunes of the strings and pipes passed down by the imperial Qing visitors were the same. Another example is the Qiziban, the common name Tuban, and the wooden play puppet. Recently there is a coincidence in the palm of the hand, the common name puppet show. Sing a performance, each into a syllable.” This It is the earliest record of the title of “Puppet Show”.
The history of puppet show is quite long. It is recorded in the ancient Chinese books “Old Events of Wulin” and “Tokyo Dream Hualu” that there is a puppet show in the palm of the Song Dynasty court banquet. However, as far as the traditional puppet play is now familiar, the origin of the play is generally a legendary story from Quanzhou.

Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty of China, a talented scholar Liang Binglin, who had failed many attempts, had a dream after praying for high school in a fairy temple in Jiuli Lake, Xianyou County, Fujian Province. In the dream, an old man wrote “Fame” in his hand. “Go to my palm” and leave.

Liang Xiucai was very happy after waking up, and thought it was a good omen for the first time. Unexpectedly, the exam was also known as the Sun Mountain. When he was disappointed, he began to learn the hanging silk puppet play from his neighbors, and developed a doll directly in his hands. With his literary accomplishment, he can export into chapters, and he can quote various barnyard official histories, which immediately attracted many people to watch his performance. The puppet show began to become popular locally, and Liang Xiucai’s reputation also rose with the tide. Only at this time did he understand the meaning of the phrase “fame goes to the palm of your hand”.
In addition, there is another theory about the origin of puppet theater, which was created by Sun Qiaoren, a talented scholar in Longxi County, Fujian during the Ming Dynasty Mu Zonglongqing (1567-1572).

The extension of puppet theater: In the middle of the 17th century, puppet theater was already very popular in southern Fujian, and a similar pattern of shoulder-to-shoulder theater appeared. The so-called shoulder play is that the performer shoulders the box and stage. After reaching a certain place, after setting up a simple stage, the operator hides under the cloth, and the simple wooden stage on his shoulder becomes a stage for the puppet performance.

In the 18th century, according to the different performance venues, puppet theater not only appeared professional groups, but also divided into outdoor performances and internal theater performances depending on the performance location. Among them, the wild stage operas were invited by theatrical troupes to perform in various places, and later gradually became performances for the purpose of welcoming the gods and thanking the gods for birthdays. The setting was relatively simple and the performers were few.

Although the inner stage opera performance method appeared in the 18th century, it really became popular after the 20th century. The sceneries of the inner stage opera are more gorgeous, and there are more puppets and musical performers than the wild stage operas. However, under the impact of new forms of entertainment such as movies and TV, after the 1980s, except for a few exceptions, internal Taiwanese operas have become quite rare in southern Fujian and various parts of Taiwan.
On the other hand, after the 1960s, internal stage dramas developed a stream of TV puppet shows. This kind of puppet show, set up in a TV studio and performed in the studio, not only became popular in Taiwan after the war, it caused a sensation. The performance media and venues even extended to cable TV, video tapes, movies, CDs and multimedia after the 1990s.