Golden Ray Puppet Theatre

In the 1950s, the Taiwanese puppeteers, carvers and costume makers started to produce puppets and stages of an original Taiwanese genre named Golden Ray glove puppets. New and larger puppets were developed. Larger stages and puppets meant that more people could watch the show. The new puppets and stages were complimented by technical innovation, such as recorded music (both Chinese and Western) and light and sound effects.

Golden Ray puppets are an expression of the great creativity of Taiwanese puppet makers. The plays are usually a battle between good and evil with a few romantic elements. Many of the puppets have magical powers and capabilities. Golden Ray puppet theatre became the most important form of Taiwanese performing arts, with over 300 companies performing to this day. Puppets became coveted toys and puppet iconography could be found on many products and toys.

The move of famous puppeteers, such a Huang Junxiong, from the stage to television, created a hype that lasts ‘till the present day. Taiwan has its own puppet television station!

The Golden Ray stage

As early as the 1950s, the puppet theatre stage transformed from a wooden carved “Colourful Mansion” to the Golden Ray puppet stage of coloured cloth. These stages were larger and could attract more audiences, which was important in the highly competitive environment. The stages are lighter and also much cheaper than the traditional stages. These stages are also less durable and few old stages of this type survive. This is a rare old stage which belonged to the Zhen Kuaile company, and the first Taiwanese female puppeteer Chiang Szu-mei (1980s)

Early 1960s backstage record player

View of the exhibition

Golden Ray character with lights on hat (1980s)

1980s Laughing Male

Golden Ray Young Male carved by Xu Bingyuan, 1980

Golden Ray Striptease puppet. 1980s

Golden Ray Old man with magical powers, exemplified by his Daoist costumes.