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Rules for a new mother (10/24)

Brocade Museum (10/24)

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Zhangzhou Puppets (2/14)

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Mary Washington comes to China, Part 1
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Zhangzhou Puppets

Since the Amity winter workshop was held in Xiamen, on the southeast coast of China, I took advantage of several days of holiday that I had in between the end of school and the beginning of the conference, to go to Zhangzhou, a city about an hour and a quarter west of Xiamen, in order to see a puppet studio. I had become familiar with these types of puppets from having been to other Amity conferences in Xiamen and, after learning about three years ago that they are manufactured in Zhangzhou, have had a desire to go there and see more of them and to learn more about them. Here is Mr. Xu Zhuchu, the founder of this studio and the designer and artisan of many of the puppets in the display cases. I know that there are other such studios in Zhangzhou, but I was satisfied to go to this one.

Pictured below are several photos of these puppets. They represent various characters from Chinese history, either actual historical persons, or literary figures from various ancient novels. All are readily known to most Chinese people. These puppets are hand puppets, ranging in size from about 12" to 15". The strings you see are to position them in the display case, not for the performances.

In addition to looking at the puppets on display, I viewed a performance. It was interesting that there was no dialogue, only Chinese music. Chinese know the stories already, so dialogue isn't necessary, I guess. The main character in this story is a gateman. The figure with the plates on top of wires represents a Chinese acrobat. I don't know how they got these little plates to spin on top of the wires, but they appeared to do so.

The performance required several young women back behind the stage. When they were not performing, they were making various products for sale by the studio. The photo below shows some of the puppet heads in various stages of manufacture, using wood and metal carving tools. I understood that there was another facility, perhaps out from downtown where perhaps a larger manufacturing effort was going on. I was quite happy with my trip to the puppet studio. I bought several puppets, of course. I have given some away and kept some for myself, to add to my small collection.