Intro: Now, within the context of our workshop theme, I like to have your attention to the History of Myanmar Yoke Thay Pwe briefly, and also some of you may already read about this history. Then to the features of Myanmar Marionettes, just a two slides of the Anatamy of Myanmar Marionettes, then How to Play the Myanmar Marionettes. The whole power point presentation is take long only more or less 30 mins. Then to introduce about my DVD-Rom how to explore all about Myanmar Marionettes Theater. Then the last but not the least the hand-on practic with the puppet to until the end of my section.
History of Myanmar Marionettes. Myanmar string puppetry has had a long history, since the 11 th century, Bagan period. But the first mention of the word “ the puppeteers ” and records were found in an stne inscription in one of the pagoda in Htupayon Pagoda , Sagaing which is in Upper Burma in 1444, let say 15 th century . It was a grand celebration commemorating the completion of this Pagoda by the king. Forty years later (1484), Shin Maha Rahta Thara, one of the famous poet monk described about the puppets and especially one puppet figure in detail,a Brahman, an astrologer puppet in his poems. The poet monk wrote about the audience also, meaning that he alone was not captivated by the puppet show. It was at the commemorating the completion of another pagoda, Mingala Zaiti Pagoda. Tada U, Upper Burma as well. We also learn that the puppet play of that time was not an ordinary one nor a primitive attempt, but grand and great, well attracting a large audiences. In 1529, the poet monk again mentioned of puppets in his another epic poem 'Thanwara Pyo' about one of many lives of Buddha you know we, Buddhistism people believed in reincarnation. From his writing we can know that the puppet shows were popular in middle Burma too. The art was gradually matured, presantation becoming of a high standard to be included as part of the court/Royal reception, and known as 'A Myant Thabin', which laterally means, Performance on the high level. The Royalty did not at first allow human dancers on the stage and thus lifeless marionette dances had a great opportunity to be on a high level stage, even above the Royal audience. The human manipulators and singers were hidden and obliged to perform behind the hand rail and back curtain attached to it. Because in the olden days, human pews/performance had to organized only on the ground circle (called Maye Wine) Female artists were not allowed them to present themselves on stage. Accordingly men had to impersonate,woman characters. So artists perform as women impersonators were later known as "Yokethay Minthami, man as a female puppet Artists with feminine voice"
So puppet show, in 17th century Myanmar Marionettes was the court entertainments and even some troupes were already running among the public winning popularity. Puppet plays were traditionally performing only Jataka stories of Buddha. 1821 to 1885 was a high time for the Buemese puppetry/ Maanmar Marionettes . With royal patronage, puppet troupes prospered. The king established his own puppet troupes to perform in the court for his private entertainment. During this time the puppet troupes performed not only from Buddhist's Jataka stories, but also from the Burmese histories, some other tales and fictions. In 1885, when the last Myanmar king, Thibaw was taken away by the British to India, artists and crafts-man had lost their most important sponsor, the court. There was none to hire the puppet troupes. They found themselves in a bad situation and survival was difficult. They had to survive by making compromises to please the new customers, foreign rulers. Marionettes had to face the challange from other fields of entertainment, and also accept the western influences, such as entertainment from India, local live theatrical performances, A Nyients and Zats, films and other forms of entertainment,what we call A Nyeint is a performance by girls with clowns and musical accompaniment.
So the decline of the puppet theater had begun by 1910 and many companies were beginning to disband. In 1960, there were only 6 active marionette troupes, including the Shwe Bo Tin Mg Troupe-which was the only one to continue enjoying Popularity during that period in Mandalay and around Myanmar. U Tin Mg, the owner and the famous vocalist for the troupe. At that time, most of troupe from Yangon were starting to disbanded as well. When he died in 1976, his daughter and accomplished manipulators took over the company, and tried to continue for 2 years and the troupe was disbanded In 1981.
Feature of Mynmar Marionettes Our ancient traditional Puppeteers, they create handmade wooden dolls to communicate ideas, thoughts, or feelings and traditional stories by using a variety of methods and techniques. Most traditional performing artists in our country develop their skills based upon tacit knowledge. These knowledge and experience are gathered through their theatrical environment, and these skills are being passed from generation to generation, in which I personally found very amazing than the other countries.
In the olden day the puppeteer, manipulator however skilled they were, they were actually only the secondary figure in the troupe. It was only when his art was combined with those of musician and puppet-vocalist that it could work its magic. The puppet vocalist/singer stood at the highest point of this theatrical triad, and anyway all their efforts make performance possible and alive. That is why we here used to saying that three-body-one-soul.
I have also found that, though they presented different stories in the olden days, the stage design and decoration has been kept as limited as possible to basic principles such as using plain backdrop, and also without the curtain. One can say that this simple design pays more attention on the beauty of each puppet on the stage, and it’s traditions of oral narrative of the artists along with the stories . This lack in technical input on the stage decoration gives a chance to Myanmar Marionettes Theater more authentic and its uniqueness in the world of puppetry.
However, the design of the stage was kept on changing in Myanmar as the world is much more developed than ever. But we always try keeping ourselves to look back what has been introduced traditionally. Please look at these two different designs. But of cause I really try to keep the stage design construction as close as possible to the tradition. But then again, when we perform in different countries, our stage has to adjust as to the local stage materials and availability of the space. Then again, we keep the important basic rule of performance behind the handrail and the back curtain attached to it. Now, We use different curtains as to changing the stories.
I would have to repeat again, the themes of Yoke Thay Pwe were mostly drawn from the last ten great lives of Buddha and from historic legends. These Myanmar traditional stories have been into practice through Marionettes since 14 Century. It is interesting how these Jataka tales have been traditionally translated into practice with the String puppets for the educational purposes, for the social awareness and understanding in the society.
Myanmar marionette enjoyed the rare and powerful privilege of being speakers of both king and man. It was not only for entertainment, but also a highly esteemed art by all classes. Marionettes were means of making people aware of current events in the olden days, a medium for educating the audience in literature, history and religion, a display of life style and customs. At the same time they functioned as mouthpieces for the people in the days of royalty. The small wooden dolls- puppet what we called Yoke Thei -enjoyed greater freedom of speech, dress and movement than live performers. They therefore played a significant role in the development of dance and dramatic arts.
The height of a puppet is important because an observant eye can detect a disproportion of it. You know a well proportioned puppet is good to look at. Traditionally, the height of a puppet was determined by its head or double length of hands. Seven and a half times of the head of the puppet is the height of the puppet from top to toe. Half of the height of the puppet is the arm length from the shoulder to the tip of the middle finger. These ratios of anatomical formation are the standard measures of the Royal Troupe.
Generally, a human puppet is made up of 17, 18 or 19 pieces or 13 joints, divided into three sections with eighteen strings attached to the appropriate parts.
So, a normal size of a puppet is 28 inches high, about 2 feet. A human figure is divided into a 3 sections with 32 to 45 strings attached to the appropriate parts. But, now only 12 strings are strung to be easy to manipulate. There are 2 strings attached to the temple from the cross-bar, making the head nod and move. A distinctive feature of Myanmar puppet. And 2 strings at the shoulder and one at the base of the spine. These so-called 5 guy ropes are the basic strings, taking the weight of the marionettes, called the life-strings, for the slightest movement of them give a puppet ‘life’ making the bosom fall and rise as if breathing. The dancing strings are the ones, connecting the hands and legs. There are 3 methods of manipulating the Burmese Marionettes. Single string handling, double strings handling and triple strings handling
Single string handling is used to walk or dance a puppet. It is connected to the knees of a puppet. Normally, when manipulate such kind of characters like Ogre and Alchemist, we use this technique.
Double strings handling is used to show the gesture, manner or the action of a puppet. And the jerky dance. And to pick up the pearl beads or the pasoc. (They are) – Double strings are the ones connected to the arm and palm. So they are the arm string and the palm string.
Triple strings handling is used when both hands and feet are desired to dance. Triple strings are the arm string, palm string and the leg string, 3 strings are to be held together but the arm string is to be twisted clockwise by thumb. We use this technique for the prince, princess, lady votaress and the page boy to get a beautiful dance. Ok ! Anyway, this uniqueness of our yoke thay tradition, of cause we thanks to our ancient Marionettes artists in this regard, has impacted positively on history of Myanmar Marionettes to achieve success. However, overall the main challenge of Myanmar Marionettes theatre is to continue efforts to sustain this success of the past, and to systematically transfer artistic skills and knowledge gained from such a recent world and to the younger generation espicially in Myanmar
When manipulating a Myanmar Marionette, the handle must be held in the left ahnd and the strings are to be held in the right hand. The way to hold the handle is like this, the handle (cross bar) must be on the index finger. Set the middle finger free and the back cross bar must be between the thumb and folded ring finger, and little finger. It is important to hold the handle in correct way. Even with non-dancing puppets, the puppeteer's talent is judged solely on how alive a puppet appears in his hands from the moment the crossbar is held.
Explain something for this slide but you did already something about it previous slide ????
The hip string of the puppet must be placed on the middle of the palm and is to be controlled by the ring finger not to fall down. The liveliness of a puppet entirely depends on the movement of the left hand. Even the slightest movement of the left hand with the life strings give a puppet "life", nodding, titling head or make the bosom fall and rise as if breathing. In this way, movement of the head can be manipulated with the appropriate movement of the handle. When holding the strings in the right hand, the thumb must be stretched out. The string is on the thumb and it goes under the index finger and the rest is on the other three fingers. The strings are to be adjusted on the hand to get center. One important thing is, the left hand, which is holding the handle must be stretched out, straight, lifted high enough, let the feet of the puppet touch the floor, standing tall, so that the puppet would not be looking awkward. So, you have to be strong enough to keep lifting and manipulating the puppet without rest. In order to make the puppet alive, the handle must be kept moving manipulating. So, also the head of the puppet as well must be moved in accordance with the speech or music.
-Since the 11thcentury, Bagan period. But the firstmention of the word “ the puppeteers ” and recordswere found in an inscription in Htupayon Pagoda,Sagaing, Upper Burma in 1444, 15thcentury.-Forty years later -1484, a famous poet monkdescribed about the puppets and especially one puppetfigure in detail...- In 1529, the poet monk again mentioned of puppetsin his another epic poem about one of many lives ofBuddha.History and Introduction - 1
- in 17th century, Myanmar Marionettes was thecourt entertainments and even some troupes werealready running among the public winningpopularity.- 1821 to 1885 was a high time for the Buemesepuppetry. With royal patronage, puppet troupesprospered.In 1885, when the last Myanmar king, Thibawwas taken away, artists and crafts-man had losttheir most important sponsor, the court.History and Introduction -2
- the decline of the puppet theater had begun by1910 and many companies were beginning todisband.-In 1960, there were only 6 active marionettetroupes, including the Shwe Bo Tin Mg Troupe-which was the only one to continue enjoyingPopularity during that period in Mandalay.-When he died in 1976, his daughter andaccomplished manipulators took over the company,and tried to continue for 2 years and the troupe wasdisbanded In 1981.History and Introduction -3
www.mandalaymarionettes.comFeatures of Myanmar MarionettesWe are not only the String Puppet but aslo..
www.mandalaymarionettes.comFeatures of Myanmar MarionettesThree bodies one soul...
www.mandalaymarionettes.comFeatures of Myanmar MarionettesCaptured Imagination by the narrative
Features of Myanmar MarionettesMyanmar Yoke Thay Pwe Stage
www.mandalaymarionettes.comFeatures of Myanmar Marionettes
www.mandalaymarionettes.comFeatures of Myanmar MarionettesTook the responsibilities of...- Being speaker of both kingand man• -Educator, mouthpieces,played a significant role- -enlisted in the educationalservice
Anatmy of Myanmar MarionettesThe Height of a puppet
Anatmy of Myanmar MarionettesPieces of Human Puppet
How to ManipulateBasically,a. Single String Handlingb. Double StringsHandlingc. Triple StringsHandling