This is a wonderful example of the handmade village folk puppets from Asia. Marionettes are distinguished from regular puppets by the fact that they are controlled by strings that are manipulated from above. This allows them a freedom of movement that is unmatched by other forms of puppetry, and this type of movement demands a great deal of skill from the person who is pulling the strings. In Asia, troupes of marionettes were commissioned and maintained by royalty. Though the stories told by the marionette troupes were no doubt fascinating and entertaining, they served a very real occupation. The court was concerned with preserving the dignity of its members and marionettes were often used to preserve the esteem of a person who had erred. For instance, the emperor could reprimand his children or his wife in this way by asking the puppeteers to put on a parable correcting errant children or careless wives about their reckless ways. While the reprimand would be obvious to anyone who was "in the know" it would largely pass unheeded by the people looking on, something that had a great deal of value in a court that could, and did contain hundreds of people. These marionettes served as a conduit between the ruler and his subject; many times, people would ask the puppeteers to mention in a veiled fashion a current event or warning to the ruler. In this way, information could be transferred on without any disrespect. A marionette could say things that a human could never get away with. In many ways, the marionette troupes replaced the actors of the time. It was considered a beheading offense to put your head above royalty, a fact which made standing on a stage difficult to say the least. Similarly, the laws were such that an actor could not wear full costumes if they were playing figures like royalty or holy men. While both of these facts would hamper the movement and styling of a human actor, marionettes were not bound by such things. This would be a wonderful addition to your collection.
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