- Category Recreational artifacts
- Sub-category Public entertainment device
- Department Folklore
- Museum CMH
- Materials Wood, Plastic, Silkworm silk, Bamboo, Metal
- Measurements Height 182.9 cm, Width 77.0 cm, Depth 28.0 cm
- Related activity Puppetry
- Caption Bunraku
- Additional Information A traditional form of Japanese puppetry, native to Osaka, in which the very large (1.2 to 1.5 metres tall) and elaborately articulated and costumed figures are operated in full view of the audience. Each puppet is manipulated by three operators, working in harmony, while musical accompaniment and narration are provided by other artists at one side. The chief operator controls head movement (eyes, eyebrows and sometimes the mouth) using a short rod and strings. He also controls the right arm. One assistant controls the left arm and the other controls the feet. The assistants are clad in black and wear a gauze mask over their eyes. Excerpt from exhibition text: Strings, Springs and Finger Things: A New Puppet Collection at the Museum, May 1996 to August 1998
- Caption Full-View Manipulation
Full-view manipulation is a type of manipulation in which the puppeteer can be seen by the audience. Although the term "full-view" could be used with any type of manipulation in which the puppeteer is not concealed, it most often refers to a form of manipulation in which the puppeteer is placed behind the puppet to control it and not above - as with a marionette, for example - or below, as for a hand puppet. Depending on the type of staging, the puppeteer may be dressed in black or in a colour which blends in with the backdrop to avoid attracting attention, or may be fully visible, combining his or her motions with the action onstage. It is generally agreed that the contemporary concept of full-view manipulation derives from the Japanese Bunraku theatre tradition, or is at least strongly influenced by it.
Puppet from Japanese Bunraku theatre. In this theatrical form, very large puppets measuring 1.2 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet) in height, featuring the entire human body, are operated by puppeteers in full-view of the audience. The puppets are controlled by means of short rods and strings. Principal characters are animated by three puppeteers. The chief puppeteer controls the head - in which the eyes and the mouth are very often articulated - as well as the right arm. Two assistants dressed in black, heads covered with black gauze, control the left arm and the puppet's lower limbs. The three puppeteers must work in perfect synchronization. A narrator, accompanied by a musician and located to one side of the stage, recites the text.
Bunraku-style puppets are full-view-manipulation puppets which, in certain respects, are inspired by puppets from the Japanese Bunraku theatre tradition. These puppets usually feature the entire body of the character, and often have small rods at the elbows, wrists and/or feet, allowing control of the limbs. Sometimes, mechanisms of varying degrees of complexity - located at the back of the puppet and incorporating rods and/or strings - allow the puppeteer to control the head or other parts of the body. The puppet can also be handled by more than one puppeteer, enabling animation of all of its limbs. A bunraku-style puppet derives more or less directly from the puppets of Japanese Bunraku theatre (see above), depending on how many of its characteristics have been drawn from this tradition.