Hokkien Puppets at the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang

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.

Kneeling before the altar in front of the Main Temple

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.

The View from the Stage Altar

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.

I hope that you can get there today to see the show.  Be sure to take a peek back stage and say hello before the show.  Performances at 2pm and 8pm again today, October 6, 2010.

15 responses to “Hokkien Puppets at the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang

  1. Cheryl, ♥ your updates. I missed the procession to receive the Emperor God 😦 Didnt know it was earlier this year :((

    • I’m sorry you missed it. I think that many people didn’t realize it was early. You can catch the procession on Saturday evening, October 9th. They go out to get the Emperor’s Finance Minister then and bring him back to help with all of the donations being made to the temple. Procession leaves the temple at 7pm so get there early. The crowd will be very big that night.

      • I was so looking forward to witness the receiving procession this year, sigh. Now, thanks to your wonderful updates, I’ll definately make sure I dont miss Saturday’s procession 🙂

  2. Dear Ms Cheryl
    Nice to meet up again and do admire your stamina and determination to get those shots. Of course the latest news about the proceedings of the temple is definitely appreciated by the readers



    • I really like the shots you took at the festival. Great eye for the small things. And a WOW factor. Hope you are enjoying the remote “thingy”. See you there again?

  3. Good work Cheryl. Met you that niet at the waiting place behind the police station on Sunday nite. Different temples in different places a=observe different times of inviting and sending off of the Gods. In Ampang, the sending off of the Gods is usually held in the early hours of between 3-4am on the 10th day morning and not at 11pm as you have indicated. Some temples will send off the Gods at 11-12pm at the same 9th nite. Just a minor comment on the activities in Ampang. Great to see you doing your best in providing such great info. Keep it up and should you require some help, do let us know. Cheers.

    • Yes – It was good to meet you! I hope that you enjoyed your long walks! I’ve adjusted the information as I know you are correct. There is a lot going on at the temple that night for those willing to stay very late!

  4. Great info and write up on the Hokkien Puppets show. I didn’t know that they even have it. Would today be the last day for the puppet show? I hope I can make it today and looking forward to say hi to you as well. 🙂

  5. Cheryl..what time u will be there the temple this Saturday? I’m not really happy with my photo…is so weird! =(

    • Don’t give up! Those are tough conditions. Dark, everybody moving, crowded. It’s not easy. I think that the photographers who do this well have learned to block out the static and see the moments. They know what the shot will look like before they take it. That and a little luck! I can’t be there Sat. evening – but never mind. Keep working the scene.

  6. Hi Cheryl, meet you on the first night of puppet show, I was the lady shooting at the left side of the stage, so admire that you have the passion and patient to shoot the every details about this event, just like to share my puppet photos with you also, http://vstyle.pinkdol.com/blog/?p=859.

  7. hi cheryl, i like some of the photo you post here, its very nice. i taken some photo during procession event on 4th oct. i m using nikon D40 15-55mm lens. so, i have problem shooting picture from far, especially at crowded area. any suggestion for me? and i hate using flash at night, the picture will not look natural, you know what i mean. thanks for the photo and info.

    • Send me a link to a gallery of your photos – like a facebook album and I’ll have a look. I don’t use flash either and so I lose a lot of shots. Trying shooting as wide as possible, use some source of light, like a street light or shop front. And then open the aperture as wide as it goes and really concentrate on the focus point. If you do that, you’ll nail a few shots! Let me know how it goes – you should try on Saturday night at the procession but get there early and shoot some in the low light before the dark.

  8. i will post the photo on facebook within this week (you can search my a/c by using my yahoo email). thanks for the advise you give, i will try and let you know the results. by the way, there will be a procession in teluk intan, perak on this thursday. this procession only happen once in ten years, imagine the crowd and size of the events they will have there. i will be there
    wednesday night, if you going and need details, let me know. thanks again for you help.

    • That sounds really interesting. But I cannot go this week because I am busy in Ampang – too bad about that. Maybe some other photographers who read this will want to go. Thanks for the tip and please share other events with us when you know about them. Thanks.

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