INHERITORS: Fujian Puppetry

Fujian puppetry is a unique art form that embraces performance and puppet-making and employs both marionettes and hand-puppets. Its rich repertoire of plays and music has evolved from a type of puppet show enjoyed by the nobility that was introduced into Fujian from the Central Plains in the Jin and Tang Dynasties, around fifteen hundred years ago. Whether using a marionette with its 30 strings controlling the body or a hand-puppet fitted over their hand like a glove, the puppeteers demonstrate incredible dexterity in bringing the puppet to life. Yet their skill and the exquisite puppets with their bright costumes are only part of a highly refined art that also includes a striking musical accompaniment, humorous dialogue and stories that highlight the distinct features of the regional culture.

In this episode of “Inheritors”, we’ll meet Hong Shijian, director of the Quanzhou Marionette Troupe; Cai Siya, a young puppeteer; and You Tianxiang, director of the Jinjiang Hand-puppet Troupe. They reveal the charm of traditional Fujian puppetry, demonstrate how the art has adapted to appeal to modern audiences, and discuss what it may look like in the future.

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