Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wayang at the Museu da Marioneta, Lisbon

I was at the Museu da Marioneta, Lisbon's puppet museum, today to see their permanent exhibit. While there was nobody on hand to give a personal tour, the galleries were well laid out and there was a good English-language audio tour on offer. The exhibit charts the course from the traditional puppet traditions of Asia and Africa to European popular puppets (pupi, Guignol, Dom Roberto, Punch etc) to the modern puppets of Portugal (fairground puppets, puppets for education, the revival of Da Silva's puppet operas in the 70s and 80s etc), ending with a room devoted to stop motion animation.

Wayang was represented by three sets of figures - a set of nice old wayang golek purwa puppets from Sunda; a set labelled wayang golek cepak but which looked to me more like wayang thengul figures; a smaller set of wayang kulit purwa from Surakarta displayed in silhouette. The wayang thengul were interesting for me in part because of the Menak Jinggo puppet, which has a head which is a bit gepeng (flat), suggesting the origins of the form in wayang krucil.  (See above.)

More effort could have been made to show that Asian puppet traditions continue to evolve, just as European ones do. But this is in part an artefact of the collecting process. The museum is based in a convent owned by the city but most of the collection is privately owned. The woman working at the desk was kind enough to invite me back for an opening of an exhibition on Thai theatre on Friday. I hope to attend.

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