There’s been much by way of puppets at the Artlog over the past weeks. Guides to puppetry (Glove-Puppets, Shadow-Puppets, Marionettes x 2 and Bunraku), progress by participants in the Puppet Challenge, and a few sidebar posts such as the one of Dada and Constructivist Marionettes, and another on the skeleton horse puppet I made and filmed for The Mare’s Tale.
But for today I post the above image of three little Czech puppets that are so simple in design and so charming in execution, that it’s hard to imagine them being improved on. A timely reminder to all those taking part in the Challenge that puppets do not always have to be complicated, and that when the artistry is demonstrated as perfectly as it is in these, then the puppet-maker’s work has been well done.
These are right up my street, I especially like the King but the skeleton is my hands down favourite. I love the refined simplicity of the them
I wasn’t entirely sure how they operate though Clive?
Is the wooden rod attached to their heads fixed in place and the string is manipulated on either side to operate the arms individually and together, or does the wooden rod pump up and down in a plunger motion making the arms do ‘jumping jacks’?
i’ve also got to find out where I can buy one of my own?!
With large marionettes operated in this manner… and that would include the spectacular puppets of Palermo and the puppets of the Royal Toone Theatre in Brussels, then the rod to the head, which is usually a heavy-duty wire, will support the puppet and additionally turn the head, which will have an appropriate joint hidden beneath the neckline.
With a tiny puppet like any of the ones shown above… which essentially are just toys… the wooden rod is merely the support of the puppet, and the strings give limited movement to the arms.
With a large, heavy, professional puppet, the operation is hugely enhanced by careful jointing, and the weight of the puppet means that when skilfully manipulated, its legs swing to give a plausible swaggering gait. (The female puppets usually have long gowns, and so they get to elegantly glide!)
Charming though the puppets in the image at the top of the post are, they basically would jiggle around, with not much leeway for creating characterful locomotion. Jiggle jiggle jiggle. Toys. Beautiful toys, but really very limited as puppets.
Ah, I see now, the larger ones operate like a marionette but without the cross bar controller at the top.Thank you for that extra info Clive.
I shall have to put in a good word with Santa, I really want to find one of these jiggle jiggle jiggle toys in my stocking! 🙂
Exquisite things…does that wooden rod attach to the top of their heads, with just the arms on strings? They walk on tiptoes? (wonderful!)
Yes, that’s the tradition of European marionettes, large or small. Only the head rod is more usually made of wire.
Ah they are lovely 😀
Aren’t they just.