Traditional puppetry includes two categories: puppet play and shadow play. Traditional puppetry in Taiwan can be divided into two categories: glove pu... (Read more)
Traditional puppetry includes two categories: puppet play and shadow play. Traditional puppetry in Taiwan can be divided into two categories: glove puppetry and string puppetry. The more popular one is glove puppetry. Ever since it was introduced to Taiwan with Fujian immigrants in the mid-Qing dynasty, its compact and rapid artistic performance became integrated with opera music in Taiwan, making it the most popular operatic form in Taiwan. In the early 20th century, with the maturation of performance arts, the southern and northern artistic schools formed. Generations of great talents appeared in various places, and each school possessed distinctive artistic characteristics. The two major schools are Wu-Chou Yuan and Hsin Hsing Ku. For nearly five decades, developments in technology have led to the development of movies, televisions, and broadcasts, which differ from traditional stage performance. In addition, among the various schools of Taiwanese glove puppetry with developmental potential, the most popular one is Taiwan Glove Puppetry of Pili TV. Over the past three decades, the development of the performance artistry of Taiwanese glove puppetry came to a virtual standstill. Although numerous puppetry troupes encountered difficulties in the cultural environment of Taiwanese glove puppetry, younger puppeteers have nevertheless gradually succeeded in reviving and redeveloping the art form in recent years. The future development of Taiwanese glove puppetry depends on the skills and enthusiasm of the younger generation!
Records exist of sting puppetry performances after Zheng Cheng-gong landed in Tainan with his soldiers. The difficulty of operating string puppetry has limited the number of performances in Taiwan. The performances of puppet show are usually for purposes of religious ceremonies, exorcism, and thanksgiving, instead of for entertainment. In addition, the characteristics of string puppetry in southern Taiwan differ from those in northern Taiwan. String puppetry in southern Taiwan is usually performed at thanksgiving ceremonies, while string puppetry in Yilan in northern Taiwan is used as a rite of exorcism. String puppetry in both northern and southern Taiwan plays a role in social etiquette and beliefs. String puppetry in Yilan came from Zhangzhou. It is integrated with Beiguan Luantan Opera with the performance of entire dramatic works. However, it is usually performed for religious ceremonies. There are some taboos against “watching string puppetry.” String puppetry in southern Taiwan came from Quanzhou. The music for string puppetry is the tune of Nanguan. Performances usually symbolize wealth, union, and fame. Brief dramatic lines symbolizing glory may be performed at grand thanksgiving ceremonies. The three puppetry troupes in Yilan have currently come to a standstill. The three puppetry troupes in southern Taiwan continue to perform as part of religious activities, and only the Jin Fei Feng String Puppetry Company continues to develop its performance arts.
Shadow puppetry in Taiwan originated from Zhaozhou located at the boundary between Fujian and Guangdong. It was popular in southern Taiwan in the late Qing Dynasty. The puppets used in shadow play were carved using buffalo skin by puppeteers. The music for performances was based on a Chao-diao. Diversified performance patterns (Minnan categories) were preserved. With the prosperous development of material conditions in Taiwanese society after World War II, the relative entertainment value of shadow puppetry eventually disappeared, as the performing arts gradually declined, and puppetry troupes significantly decreased and vanished. Only four shadow puppetry troupes remain in Kaohsiung. Recently, the Hua Chou Yuan Shadow Puppetry Troupe in Taipei, which was introduced from Hunan China, has created a series of unique performances.
In the traditional xiqu in China, puppets have no facial expressions and no subtle movements of fingers and legs are made in puppetry, but rather exag... (Read more)
In the traditional xiqu in China, puppets have no facial expressions and no subtle movements of fingers and legs are made in puppetry, but rather exaggerated expression and abstract imitation. Puppetry achieves the objective of artistic appreciation of audiences by presenting performance programs. The expression of traditional puppetry consists of storytelling plus opera music singing, and is usually performed by one person. Therefore, declaiming lines is more important than singing, and vocal music is usually the responsibility of other performers. The performance arts of Taiwan glove puppetry, string puppetry, and shadow puppetry generally have this focus to achieve the objective of artistic appreciation. Shadow puppetry and string puppetry rapidly declined after WWII. The development of puppetry performance arts was weak. Before 1990, there still existed figures, movements, and vocal music of people-based opera in the string puppetry in northern Taiwan. After 1990, only several figures and movements remained in the string puppetry in southern Taiwan.
Taiwanese glove puppetry originated from storytelling, and the figures and movements of puppets and operatic vocal music were gradually added, which are still seen in performances today. The figures and movements of Taiwan glove puppetry were developed from the simulation of human movements whereas tumbling and leaping movements came from martial arts. Only a few puppetry troupes advertising themselves as traditional troupes still maintain performance. Exaggerated expressiveness is characteristic of “true” artistic expression in Taiwanese glove puppetry; it is also capable of expressing a simulated “truth” under the foundation of “false” in order to construct artistic beauty. “True” is meaningful, while “false” is interesting. The story pattern of “using puppets to simulate people” still exists in performances.
Jin Guang Puppetry, which was formed after WWII, used plots of mysterious changes and intertwining feelings, and utilized personal interpretation of plots and interesting lines while eliminating rhythm of percussion. Music was used to accompany movements, including martial movements. Enhanced lighting effects were used to reflect more authentic dramatic tension. In the performances of Jin Guang Puppetry, the Wu-Chou Yuan system attaches more importance to the expression of lines, while Hsin Hsing Ku attaches more importance to the development of dramatic tension. At present, only a few Taiwan glove puppetry troupes remain active in various places in northern and southern Taiwan which possess the ideas and ambitions to engage in the operation of performance arts and attempt to make innovations. Most of the troupes put on puppetry shows with tapes, which loses the essence of performance arts. Pili Taiwanese Glove Puppetry with its unique development and high popularity with audiences turned to entertainment-oriented TV dramas a long time ago, and its performance pattern is significantly different from that of staged performances..
Glove Puppetry (zhang-zhong xi), also called “budai xi” (cloth-bag show), is a kind of o...
String Puppetry is a kind of traditional puppet show. In Taiwan, String Puppetry can only be found i...
Shadow Puppetry, also called “pi-hou xi,” is a kind of traditional puppet show in Taiwan...