Burma puppetry is popularly known as yoke tha ( This is a loose translation from the “small performance”). This contains special elements in comparison with other marionettes in the world. A wide variety of 27 characters together with stories they display make the fact that Burma puppets can get around circularly, unlike in other countries’ puppetry in a perpendicular way. So, this is so worth exploring during Burma escorted tours.
Mr. Khin Maung Htwe – an owner of Puppetry Home called Htwe Oo- said, “Several people think the culture of traditional puppets in Burma was approximately thousands of years, probably originated in the 11th century, while I’m not sure of this. Though I believe that it came from 600 –year-old ancient culture, there is some discovery showing wooden puppets as the main entertainment means for royal people centuries ago. Throughout colonialism age, this kind of art ran along the Irrawaddy River and then was embraced by the locals.”
Like other countries in this world, old traditions and cultures in Burma are gradually combining with a modern one. Nevertheless, Khin Maung Htwe is still adamant by maintaining its piece of heritage for Burmese people through performances passed in their family-run puppet troupe in Htwee Oo Burma Puppetry Home. Any puppeteer, even Khin Maung Htwe’s wife as well as his daughter, has to use all fingers in order to animate marionettes made of wood in an intricate way of pulling, twisting, swinging, whirling and shaking. From the Burma tours, you can learn that traditional Burmese puppet shows have 28 major characters such as royals, gods, monsters, and animals. Traditional puppets in Burma are usually carved, polished, sanded and then painted, before being dressed in costumes which have been stitched by hand. The whole procedure takes about 20 days. They also attach strings to all joints like eyebrows of the puppet so that it can move in a more flexible way while on performance.
There are no language barriers in this kind of performing art and therefore there are no hindrances to enjoyment as well as the connection between tourists on Burma holidays with the show. As a result, the art form can be preserved throughout centuries. Clearly, it seemed feasible for one puppeteer to take control over a total of 60 strings but this skill has been lost for years. Puppeteers nowadays still try to control in a minimum of 2 puppet strings.
In spite of an increase in rare traditional puppetry, several famous locals in Burma still try to preserve this art form so that tourists can come to enjoy during their escorted tours. Tourists should not miss a chance to visit a puppet theater group at Nanda Restaurant of the city Bagan. This group’s old leader passed down this are to his grandchildren and he described this kind of tradition as the performance from our souls. This can be seen from the way he controls and guides the puppets on the stage while both of his eyes are completely enthusiastic. The climax of this art is when a veteran puppeteer takes a twist of a puppet in a spin of 360 degrees just before he catches the puppet with shoulders, all of which are carried out in just one unstoppable move. Completely focused on the craft, the performer can express all of his dedication as well as reverence that he has for the ancient performing art.
In each scene, puppeteers will show the personality of each character on the stage. The lines of the story come from various plot lines which can be old myths or legends full of humor as well as folklore. Some singers can even make puppets without any expression become life, making an unforgettable Burma travel tour. These vocalists demonstrate personalities of characters, promote atmosphere, create a more unified as well as enchanting performance.
Fewer than a dozen of independent puppetry groups now exist in Burma but this art remains valuable as a special form and it will always be kept deep in the diverse traditional culture of this country, and tourists should not miss a chance to know more about it during their Burma escorted tours.