Burma (now Myanmar) is situated in Southeast Asia, between China and India. It is inhabited by ethnic groups like the Burmese, Mon, Shan, Karen, and others; the majority is Buddhist, but there is also a strong belief in 'nats', the animist spirits of the land.
Burmese marionettes ( known as Yoke Thé) originated around 1780 during the reign of Singu Min. They became popular in the courts of the Konbaung dynasty. The stories and characters have remained largely unchanged. Until the conquest of Upper Burma by the British in late 1885 during the Third Anglo-Burmese War, yoke thé troupes thrived under royal patronage.
The puppeteers stand on a platform behind a handrail; their lower bodies are hidden by a painted backdrop in front of which the puppets perform, and their upper bodies are hidden by a curtain. When not in use, the puppets hang behind them. The performances usually last all night.
Our marionette is the King of the Celestial Beings (Thagyar Min). His costume is opulent, the 7-tiered head dress studded with brilliants, and his gold colored robe stiff with sequins and beads. This costume is a replica of the ceremonial dress worn by the Burmese kings on state occasions. This puppet always descends upon the stage from above the handrail, signifying his abode on high; his feet must never touch the floor.
Our puppets are beautifully made, the head is hand carved and hand painted. The puppet is then hand sequined to give a stunning finish. The puppet is controlled by a wooden frame and a series of strings giving limited movement to the Head, Body, Hands & Feet. They come in the choice of maroon or blue/green, however as each puppet is hand made each will be slightly different. Each puppet is 38 cm tall.