Not knowing too much about Hokkien puppets, I will resort to the “picture is worth a thousand words” concept and show some photos from yesterday. These are Hokkien string puppets. There are also more traditional Hokkien hand puppet shows still being performed. I understand that in Taiwan the puppet shows at some festivals are now animated – influenced by Japanese Anime. Yikes.
The dialect in the performances at the Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Ampang was all Hokkien. These little guys are adorable. The troupe is Singapore based, where I assume that they get a lot more business than here. They also have a contact in Muar. They gave me a card but unfortunately for me, it’s in Chinese, no Englishlah. I saw Hokkien puppets at the Hungry Ghost Festival at the big Chinese temple in central Brickfields (Sum Kow Tong) and that troupe had been brought in from China. You can see old puppets upstairs at that temple in a small altar. I was also able to see a Hokkien hand puppet show at the Hungry Ghost Festival in Selayang.
It was very sweet yesterday to see the puppets taken to the altar to honor the gods before they performed. It was possible to feel the life in them.
These puppets are very photogenic and attracted the attention of more than one photographer! If you are a photographer and reading this – share your photos by clicking on the “Leave A Comment” button below and then link in. I see you at the festival and I know that you are taking a lot of interesting shots.
The stage is very makeshift and behind the scenes it’s a bit chaotic, as they eat and sleep in the space as well. Despite our language issues, the troupe was very welcoming and introduced me to the puppets and asked me to photograph the altar at the back where one older puppet (the Chinese deity of the Arts – Shiang Kong) is suspended to watch the proceedings. There are three puppeteers and two musicians in this troupe.
Last evening there was a pretty big crowd (for a Tuesday night!) and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. I only stood here for a moment, as I was a curious distraction for some.