In the past, Myanmar puppetry was not only for entertainment but also an art well-liked by all social classes. Puppets were a way to educate people about current events, a way to educate people about literature, history, and religion, and displaying Burmese culture and lifestyle.
Puppetry – the soul of Burmese culture
Myanmar is located at the crossroads of many cultures. This country of golden temples fascinates us by its charm of yesteryear as well as its rich culture. There are many people who say that if you want to reach the heart of Myanmar, you have to go to Mandalay because Mandalay is the center of the country. It is perhaps also for this reason that the puppet artists chose Mandalay as the starting point of the puppet theater.
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It’s legendarily said that the puppetry of Myanmar appears approximately in the 11thcentury under the dynasty of Bagan. 1820-1885 was the most golden period of puppet theaters where performances were received most warmly. The actors associated their technique with dance. Unfortunately, this form of art did not survive long.
In the 1960s, there were 5 puppet troops in Myanmar.
If the former auditorium was reserved for royal families, today the audience is travelers in Burma. The theaters are maintained so that visitors can watch the shows that last about 1 hour. With only a few strings, the artists can perform quite complex movements of puppets. When music is necessary, musicians perform a rhythmic combination. The artists of Theater Dolls often have a very good memory to be able to play a long story with many details. This is the magic of the puppetry and it is also an important factor for the success of this unique art.
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For the people of Myanmar, the boundary between nature and supernatural strength is very fragile. They believe that puppets have their own souls. During the training of puppet figures, artists must respect many rules. These puppets are not only beautiful objects but are also lively and moving.
Nowadays, the old generation of traditional puppeteers has almost disappeared. This is simply due to the lack of requisite patronage in recent decades. As a result, it’s a sad fact that the art of puppetry is considered as a dying art quickly disappearing in the progression of modern entertainment. The same story applies to artists. It’s expected that Burmese culture can retain this unique art.