The Magic of Asian Theatre Puppets at Iziko


An exhibition of more than 100 unique examples of Asian puppetry is currently on show at the Iziko South African National Gallery.

The dramatic exhibition can be appreciated by young and old this winter school holiday.

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The Magic of Asian Theatre Puppets features the most complete collection of Asian theatre puppets in the world. The vast collection comprises of unique puppets and related artefacts from most Asian traditions and countries including Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The collection was established by founder of the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum, Dr Paul Lin.

First developed as a religious ritual, the earliest Asian puppets were usually stationary statues of gods and deities. Puppets were thought to exorcized evil, healed disease, and bringing peace and comfort, as they represented the deities who moved and talked through the puppeteers.

Puppet theatre was first performed in India and China more than 2,000 years ago. During its long history, puppet theatre developed in all Asian countries. It took the form of many diverse genres, such as marionettes, shadow puppets, glove puppets, rod puppets and water puppets. Puppets were made by highly skilled craftsmen, whose names are mostly lost. Asian puppet theatre is also music theatre, with the members of the orchestra always outnumbering the puppeteers.

These beauties, heroes, villains, gods and clowns have travelled the world, and are now in Cape Town to take visitors to this exhibition through a vast and fascinating continent.

The exhibition is on show until 31 July 2017.

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