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Quanzhou – Marionette Capital of China!Quanzhou puppet cartoon from Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen and Fujian.  You can tell who's pulling my strings!

Want to buy Quanzhou Puppets, or arrange a Marionette Performance? Click Here to visit the factory!
Or Contact Mr. David Zeng. E-mail: aghzeng@hotmail.com
Mobile: 13799503010 Office:0595-22989432 Fax: 0595-22989431
Click Here for Intro to Quanzhou
Click Here for "City of Springs" (written by Annie Duncan in 1902)

International Puppet Festivals Quanzhou was selected to host the International Puppet Festivals in 1986, 1990 and 2000 for one good reason: this ancient center of commerce, philosophy and religion is also the home of Chinese marionette!Quanzhou puppets / marionettes, on display in the Quanzhou marionette troupe's hall.

Of course, Quanzhou has many unique crafts, including exquisite paper lanterns, bamboo weaving, porcelain, wood sculpture, tree root carving, paper weaving, lacquer ware, clay sculptures, miniature flour carvings, and 1700 years of Hui’an stone carving, but the icing on the cultural cake is puppets, which stand camphor heads and shoulders above the rest.

The Quanzhou Marionette Troupe has thrilled audiences in over 30 countries and regions, including performances in London’s Royal Festival Hall. Over 30 puppeteers manipulate the puppets while singing to the If Jim Lanley catches his wife at this, this puppet will be at the end of his ropes. background of a full Chinese orchestra. Unfortunately, it’s hard to catch their acts at home, but you can arrange a once-in-a-lifetime command performance for only 2,000 Yuan. Contact the Vice Director of Performers, Mr. Xia Rong Feng, at 237-5497 Mobile Phone: 13959798518 He can also arrange for a tour of the marvelous Puppet Troupe’s museum.

Chinese puppetry dates back at least to the Han Dynasty 2000 years ago, though legend has it the art began 3000 years with King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty. While returning from hunting in the Kunlun mountains, he saw a carpenter, Yanshi, giving a song and dance performance with his wooden dolls. The art has changed a lot over the past two to three thousand years, and has reached its epitome in Quanzhou, which has the only Chinese puppets that boast their own musical repertoire performed on unique musical instruments, with over 300 songs and tunes written for the 700+ traditional puppet shows.Quanzhou master puppeteer, Mr. Xia Rong Feng, entertains Ms. Jimmy Langley and her daughter Emma, at the Quanzhou Marionette Troupe museum and stage.

These miraculous marionettes have more strings attached than a henpecked husband. When deftly wielded by a master puppeteer, 14 to 36 strings bring the wooden folk to life as they strut and fret with abandon across intricate Chinese stages.

Unlike Western puppeteers, who work mainly with the control, Chinese puppeteers also manipulate groups of strings with their fingers. The longer the strings (up to 2 meters!), the more difficult to operate, but the more expressive the puppets can become as they portray men and women of all ages and professions—or even spirits or wild animals.

Quanzhou military marionettes tell tales of resistance and liberation.Puppets make love and war, bicker and barter, dance, jog and somersault. Their deft hands even retrieve objects from the stage floor! Maybe their lips move too, because Jimmy sure fell for this fellow (who robs cradles too). But everything hinges on puppeteers like Mr. Xia Rong Feng, Quanzhou Puppet Troupe’s Vice Director of Performers (who kindly gave us a tour and a delightful demonstration).

Puppeteers, who often beAfter liberation, puppets were used to tell modern stories, such as the wars of resistance against Japanese and other foreign devils.  gin training as children, may take 5 years to learn the basics, and over 20 years to completely master the 30+ strings! The sheer complexity of marionettes is amazing. They have a torso, limbs, strings and a hollow wooden head (usually camphor or willow) with internal mechanisms to move the lips and eyes. They have civilian to hold pens and cups or swing fans, and military hands to brandish swords, spears, and other weapons. There are even three types of feet: bare, booted, and womanly.

No wonder modern youth aren’t keen on devoting their lives to mastering puppetry, and the camphor creatures are getting more complex by the

Modern Puppetry During the late Qing Dynasty, puppeteers like Lin Chengchi could make their puppets draw swords and open umbrellas. But today’s generation of puppeteers are as good, or better. And for all their skill, they are continuing to perfect their craft to create utterly breathtaking puppets and performances. Modern stages are deeper, allowing the puppets greater freedom of movement, and allowing the use of different types of puppets simultaneously. For example, the Iron-fan Princess in “Flaming Mountain” is manipulated with strings, poles and fingers.

In “Taming the Monkey,” the simian puppet monkeys about doing everything from riding a bicycle to playing a guitar. In “Drunken Zhong Kui,” Kui fails the imperial examination simply because he is so ugly. After he commits suicide, the King of Hell appoints him “Master demon chaser,” but he's so overwhelmed by the number of wicked demons and ghosts that he turns to drink. In the end he goes on the wagon, and devotes himself to an eternal battle against wickedness. It’s a hell of a story.


Carrying the Tradition Abroad The Quanzhou Puppet Troupe gave a short workshop to 11 British puppeteers and puppet lovers in London's Little Angel Puppet Christopher Leith had worked with marionettes for over 35 years and still found the training tough. Still, the Chinese said they’d done well in such a short time, and should be up to snuff in a couple of years (a long time for us Westerners, but nothing for Chinese who spend decades at it).

Quanzhou puppets begin life as a block of camphor wood, which is lovingly carved, then clothed in finely decorated silk costumes, and sold in shops like this one, which is right beside one of Quanzhou's Kentucky Fried Chickens.  Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen and Fujian.  http://www.amoymagic.com
Crafting Puppet Heads Crafting quality camphor wood puppet heads is a vanishing art. People just aren’t patient enough nowadayss to spend 10 to 15 years mastering this exacting craft. Of the few dozen puppet head makers left in Quanzhou, only ten to twenty make quality puppets. The rest churn out mass produced heads (or, worse yet, press out plastic heads, which may look the same but don’t have the soul of the genuine wooden folk).

Puppet heads begin life as a block of camphor wood which is cut to a rough form, sanded, then carved with finer detail. After a coat of paint, and then gloss, further details and hair are added. Cheap heads are churned out in only 3 to 4 days, but it takes Master carver Wang Yique a couple of weeks to give birth to his masterpieces…

Posters from quanzhou puppet shows around the worldThe article “Heads Up,” in Dragon Air’s in-flight magazine, “The Silk Road,” (September 1988) was about Quanzhou puppet master, Wang Yique, who at the time had made puppets for 60 years. Master Wang said, “I’ve done this since I was 13 years old. I can’t give it up now. Besides, I want to leave something behind after I’m gone.” He also noted that none of his children or grandchildren had chosen to make puppet heads.

Wang Yique spends up to half a month carving a head with exaggerated or distorted features that can be seen from a distance. Some puppets have four heads, 4 mouths and 8 eyes—all controllable by one finger! A Zhangzhou hand puppet smoking a pipe.  These amazing little people perform acrobatic feats, like spinning plates, juggling--or even tossing each other into the air.  Incredible.

Chinese Glove puppets appear simpler to manage than marionettes, but these too require years of training. With the forefinger in the head and thumb and middle finger operating the arms, the puppeteer can perform astonishing feats. The puppets pour tea into tiny pots, wield fans, change clothes, brandish swords, or performance somersaults while juggling barrels and dishes on poles balanced on their head. Quite literally breathtaking. But the real magic is backstage. Sneak around and take a look. And then take a beautiful hand puppet home with you. They cost only 80 to 120 Yuan apiece.

Quanzhou Puppet Troupe Museum. I could spend an entire day going through the endless displays of ancient and modern puppets ranging from warriors, emperors and the Monkey King and his entourage, to heroes of the Liberation, foreign villains, and musician puppets that play violins.
Address: No. 24 Tongzheng Lane, Quanzhou.

Dave Hollinger uses plastic boxing hand robots of Bush and Saddam to demonstrate how the boxer rebellion really began.  The president looked Bushed, but Saddam was caught between Iraq and a hard place.  Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen and Fujian (tourism, travel, business, investment, study, Minnan cuisine, history, maritime silk road, deng deng!

Boxer Rebellion? Our old friend Dave Hollinger (well, he's not that old--or at least not as old as he looks) was delighted with the boxing hand puppets sold on Gulangyu Island! I even bought a pair myself (at 50 cents each, why not?). As I played with them, one Chinese asked which would win, Bush or Saddam. But I refused to answer, lest I get "caught between Iraq and a hard place." (though the president did look a bit Bius

The real magic at a Zhangzhou hand puppet show is backstage, where the artists deftly weave magical spells with their little people. Amazing Zhangzhou hand puppets pour tea from tiny pots into tinier cups.

TRAVEL LINKS Hakka Earthen architecture Favorite Fujian Sites Photographs of Fuhken places like Zhangzhou, Longyan, Ningde, Sanming, Wuyi MountainFujian Foto Album AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and FujianXiamen Gulangyu Kulangyu Kolongsoo Kolongsu KulongsuGulangyu Guide to Fukien Fuhken Fujian Guides Mystic Quanzhou -- the fabled port of Zayton ( or Zaytun Zaitun Zaiton ) from which Marco Polo sailed,  Sinbad the Arab visited.  ChinchewQuanzhou Zhangzhou  changchow Zhangzhou Longyan Yongding Liancheng Changting Amoy Tigers LianchengLongyan Wuyi Mountain Guide Zhuxi  tea Wuyi Mtn Ningde Taimu Mountain ZhouningNingde Putian Fujian Xianyou Mazu TemplePutian Sanming Scenic Wonderland Mingxi Gem bed rubies Sanming
Zhouning Carp VillageZhouning
Hakka Earthen architecture Taimu Mtn. Hakka Earthen architecture Roundhouses Fujian covered wooden bridgesBridges Hakka Earthen architecture Jiangxi Hakka Earthen architecture Guilin Help Build an online  community for foreigners.  Join the Xiamen Guide forumOrder Books
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Gulangyu Kulangyu Kolongsoo Kolongsu Kulongsu
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Guide to Xiamen University Historic and modern, including departments -- Arts Science computers mathematics accounting management law department etc.Xiamen Univ

Mystic Quanzhou -- the fabled port of Zayton ( or Zaytun Zaitun Zaiton ) from which Marco Polo sailed,  Sinbad the Arab visited.  Chinchew
Quanzhou

AmoyMagic-- Travel , Resident and Business Guide to Xiamen and Fujian
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