Divine strings: Taiwan Marionette Theatre

Marionette or string puppet performances, kuileixi, are so closely related to religious ritual and often performed around midnight, that most Taiwanese don’t even know there are several companies in the south and the northeast of the island. There are still consecrated string puppets that are mainly performed in the context of religious ritual. These puppets are invested with the same power as the statues of Gods through a special ritual called ‘opening the eyes’ kai guang. The puppets are venerated on altars in the home of the puppeteer and during performances a temporary altar is constructed where the puppet is worshipped. These deity puppets perform exorcisms or transmit the gratitude of the believers to the Gods and ask for the Gods’ blessings in a performance.

In recent years there are new marionette makers and school groups who perform highly creative original plays.

View of the exhibition

View of the exhibition

Marionette of Zhong Kui, the Excorcist (1970s). This puppet belonged to Puppet Master and National Treasure Chen Xihuang

Marionette of Chief Marshall Tian, God of the Theatre (1980s)