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"Mexicans" as a puppet

A marionette is a jointed puppet that is moved by a puppeteer with the help of threads that are attached to each limb. The building material used to be usually wood . For the heads often been basswood used because it has a fine grain, is soft enough to be worked around easily, few tears when dry and is permanent. Today, different materials are used depending on the topic: hard and soft foam, latex , paper or wood mash and much more.

Representation and manufacture

In contrast to hand puppets , the whole figure can be represented and moved here, including the lower body or legs, which allows a more lifelike representation of the figure. In addition, the player can act completely covertly, so that only the apparently independent figure is visible to the audience. In the 19th century, these circumstances led to a fashion for theater plays or operas to be transferred directly to the marionette stage and to allow “little people” to act, which, according to a widespread view, did not do justice to the plays or the medium of puppet theater.

The most complicated puppet must fail if you ask a human being from it. Actions such as gripping, intimate hugs or forceful slamming into a fight not have their original, since they are only the pendulum laws and gravity obeys. Such situations can of course also be managed with specially developed figures. But then the game may develop into an artistry. If, on the other hand, it is a question of characters that break away from gravity, the marionette is naturally superior to an actor.


Puppet-like jointed dolls have been known since ancient times. These figures, called neurospasmata, were already very popular in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece . Professional puppeteers made a living from their performances.

One of the most famous German-speaking puppet theaters is the Augsburger Puppenkiste . The oldest puppet theater dynasty in Germany is the Bille theater family from the Ore Mountains, there were also the Winters from Silesia, the Richters from Thuringia, the Apels from Saxony and theschichtl theater family (whose name is still represented as the variety theaterschichtl at the Oktoberfest in Munich ) from southern Germany. The Lindau Marionette Opera , the Düsseldorf Marionette Theater , the Salzburg Marionette Theater , the Schönbrunn Palace Marionette Theater and the Operla in Bayreuth perform operas and plays with marionettes. Another well-known marionette theater is the Die Holzköppe theater founded by Karl Magersuppe in 1924 , located in Steinau an der Strasse since 1955 . This stage is one of the oldest existing puppet theaters in Germany and one of the few that still play in the traditional form. The Bamberg Marionette Theater has dedicated itself to the classic performance practice based on original texts .

When literati thematized puppetry, they almost always meant puppet theater. Concise examples are Heinrich von Kleist and his essay on Marionette Theater and Theodor Storm's novella Pole Poppenspäler . In the 19th century, Franz Pocci wrote the first really practical German puppet pieces for Papa Schmidt's puppet theater.

In modern German puppet theater, the puppet does not play a major role in quantitative terms, but it has set significant new accents. At the beginning of the 20th century, reform-minded Munich artists turned to puppet theater, including marionettes. The Bauhaus began treating dolls in a creative and playful way around 1920 . The aftermath of the artistic endeavors can still be felt today, especially in the Kleines Spiel puppet theater , founded in 1947.

In the state and city theaters of the GDR, stick puppets were mostly played according to the Soviet model - when the young puppet theater in Neubrandenburg turned to the puppet as well as the hand puppet, this was definitely to be understood as a new approach. The play Fear and Misery of the Third Reich by Bertolt Brecht , the Peter Waschinsky there staged with puppets in 1980, is the highlight of their form and content renewing puppet theater at the end of the GDR.

Yoke thé puppeteer in Myanmar

Marionettes also have a great tradition in Chinese puppet theaters and in Sicilian puppet theaters ( Opera dei Pupi ). In Iran, the traditional puppet theater is called Kheimeh Shab Bazi. The shape is derived from the name, which can be translated as "nocturnal performance in a doll's house". Accompanying musical instruments are the Kamantsche spit violin and the tombak tumbler drum . The main character is a clown, around whom 10 to 15 other doll figures act.

In the Burmese marionette theater Yoke thé , 50 to 90 centimeter tall puppets are moved to accompany a classic Hsaing Waing orchestra. The first references to Burmese play dolls ( Burmese yoke ) come from a stone inscription from 1444 on which some puppeteers are named. The poet, musician and general Myawaddy Mingyi U Sa (1766-1853) made a significant contribution to developing Burmese puppetry into a highly regarded courtly art form. The traditional repertoire consists of stories from the life of Buddha ( jatakas ), historical events and legends. In the past, temple festivals provided an occasion for the appearance of mythical figures, including the snake deity Naga , the mythical bird Garuda , various animals and the magician ( zawgyi ). The idea usually opens with the doll of a female spirit ( natkawdaw ) who belongs to the nat (predominantly spirits who have died a violent death). The art form is kept alive today mainly by puppet troops in Mandalay .

In India , puppets belong to a very old dramatic form, which is already mentioned in the Indian national epic Mahabharata , which began in the 4th century BC. It was written down in BC and still occurs today as a popular theater in the Indian states of Rajasthan as Kathputli , Odisha as Kundhei , Karnataka as Gombeyatta and in Tamil Nadu as Bommalattam . The dolls are made of wood and fabric, paper mache or leather.

Internationally popular puppets are the Czech father-and-son couple Spejbl and Hurvinek .

Figurative puppet

A person who is used by others like a tool is also called a puppet. A puppet government is installed and controlled by a foreign (victorious) power. The terms straw man , wire puller , puppet state and sock puppet also refer to the puppet play.


Romantic artists had an affinity for puppet theater. They were fascinated by the fact that the characters seemingly overrode the laws of gravity . This led to the well-known floating of figures, just as the fairies and elves were able to do in the imagination of the romantics.


See also


  • Olaf Bernstengel , Lars Rebehn: Volkstheater on threads. From the mass medium to the museum object - Saxon puppet theater in the 20th century . Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale 2007, ISBN 978-3-89812-550-5 (Weiss-Grün series; 36).
  • Harro Siegel : Harro Siegel's puppets. Propylaea publishing house, Frankfurt a. M. 1982, ISBN 3-549-06657-0 .
  • René Simmen: Marionettes from all over the world. New edition Rheingauer Verlagsgesellschaft, Eltville 1978, ISBN 3-88102-022-5 .
  • Anton Bachleitner: The Düsseldorf Marionettes. Dolls & masks, Frankfurt a. M. 2003, ISBN 978-3-935011-39-6 .
  • BROSS 100 - The other theater. Special issue, Puppen & Masken, Frankfurt a. M. 2010, ISBN 978-3-935011-77-8 (about the life's work of the marionette master FH Bross)
  • Heinrich von Kleist: About the puppet theater. With a contribution by Wolfgang Kurock. Dolls & masks, Frankfurt a. M. 2007, ISBN 978-3-935011-64-8 .
  • Bernhard Wöller: The playable marionette: Made of wood with 12 threads and a play cross. Dolls & masks, Frankfurt a. M. 2000, ISBN 3-922220-96-7 .
  • Walter Pfeiffer: The marionette, a life by a thread. IHW Verlag, Eching 2011, ISBN 978-3-930167-76-0 .

Web links

Commons : Puppets  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Marionette  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ It is with great pleasure that I take up my pen ( Memento from April 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  2. The Apels - a Dresden puppeteer family between the German Empire and the GDR ( Memento of the original from October 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.skd.museum
  3. Kasper, why do you have such golden threads? ( Memento of the original from September 12, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sz-online.de
  4. holzkoeppe.de: History of the Marionette Theater (accessed April 20, 2017)
  5. Bauhaus. In: World Encyclopaedia of Puppetry Arts Online. UNIMA Internationale, accessed on October 8, 2019 .
  6. Shiva Massoudi: "Kheimeh Shab Bazi": Iranian Traditional Marionette Theater. In: Asian Theater Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2, autumn 2009, pp. 260-280
  7. ^ Noel F. Singer: Burmese Puppets . Oxford University Press, Singapore a. a. 1992, p. 5
  8. Kathy Foley: Burmese Marionettes: Yokthe Thay in Transition. In: Asian Theater Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1, (Special Issue on Puppetry) Spring 2001, pp. 69-80
  9. ^ Puppet Forms of India. ( Memento of the original from May 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Center for Cultural Resources and Training, New Delhi @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / ccrtindia.gov.in
  10. ^ Inge C. Orr: Puppet Theater in Asia. In: Asian Folklore Studies , Vol. 33, No. 1, 1974, pp. 69-84, here p. 70