Puppet Masters: The men (and women) behind the stage

Puppeteers traditionally grew up in artistic surroundings, either traditional opera, puppet theatre, or music oriented environments. Puppet companies are often family based, but can sometimes also be founded by puppeteers who do not have a family tradition. Every puppeteer starts studying with a master, which is sometimes a family member. The relationship between master and student is one that lasts a lifetime. The training period is traditionally 3 years and several months, but may vary depending upon the talent of the individual student.

Puppeteers belonged traditionally to the lowest classes of society. This stigma has changed over the years. Puppeteers are now respected for their art and the transmission of an important tradition.
Young puppeteers, with higher education backgrounds, are coming of age, adding new and interesting dimension to the ancient art.

Shadow Master Xu Funeng (1923-2002) photo by Yi-feng Chiu

View of the exhibition: Some of the glove puppet masters of Taiwan

The marionette performers of the Xue family of the Jin Fei Feng Marionette Theatre Company

National Treasure Master Chen Xihuang in Russia

View of the exhibition: Young puppet master Ko Shih-hong (Ken Ko)

View of the exhibition: Three generations of puppeteers: Chiang Szu-mei (88, center); one of the first female glove puppeteers in Taiwan); Ko Chia-Tsai (son of Chiang, right); Ko Shih-Hua (grandson of Chiang)

Puppet music and performance record by Master Xu Wang (1970s)

Taipei Zhong Kui marionette puppet Master Lin Jinlian