OBSERVATIONS ON THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF PUPPETRY
What stands out most clearly is that a definite trend from the East to the West
can be discerned for the diffusion of puppets, especially shadow plays, during
our era. But we are sadly lacking any detailed descriptions of puppets, puppet
shows and their plays in the ancient days, whether in old documents, literature
or art. India especially maintained their traditions and literature only by
oral transmission since very ancient times. Only those arts supported by the
courts and kings merited any mention; puppetry being a folk art, was seldom
recorded until the start of the Christian era.
We may be forced to admit that shadow plays were prevalent in the East,at least by 200 BC - probably originating in India - then the later appearance of rod and glove puppets in our era AD followed out of this puppetry form. Marionettes likely developed from automata and primitive puppet displays, which in turn seem to have been a separate development that originated in ancient Egypt, from rituals and ceremonies performed using string-operated figurines.
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(refer to Bibliography above for fuller details of the sources)
Dancing Dwarfs - Picture source: http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~ancient/museum7.htm
String operated figure - Picture source: http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~ancient/museum7.htm
Articulated Indian figurine - Picture source: Gupta, S. P. "The Roots of Indian Art"
Roman comic character - Picture source: Maindron, Ernest. "Marionnettes et Guignols"
Ancient Greek doll of ivory - Picture source: Unknown, obsolete web page
Modern-day opera dei pupi - Picture source: Simmen, Rene. "The World of Puppets"
A modern tholubomalatta show, in Andhra Pradesh - Picture source: Unknown local library book
A Wayang Beber Performance, 1900 - Picture source: Mair, Victor H. "Painting and Performance"
Shadow of a Wayang Kulit Puppet - Picture source: Ulbricht, H. "Wayang Purwa, Shadows of the Past"
Wayang Kulit Performance in Java - Picture source: Jane Turner, ed. "The Dictionary of Art," Volume 15, Indonesia VI, Theatre, by Ward Keeler, 1996
Javanese Wayang Kulit in action - Pictures source: Schrieder, Frank. "Indonesia: The Young and Troubled Island Nation" in The National Geographic
Wayang Klitik Puppets & A Wayang Golek Puppet - Pictures source: Simmen, Rene. "The World of Puppets"
Chinese Rod Puppets - Picture source: Joseph, Helen Haiman. "A Book of Marionettes"
A Balinese Shadow Figure - Picture source: Ulbricht, H. "Wayang Purwa, Shadows of the Past"
Two examples of a narrator in puppet shows - Picture source (left): Early, Alice K. "English Dolls, Effigies, and Puppets", and Picture source (right): van Boehn, Max. "Dolls and Puppets"
King Solomon on his throne observing the "show" - Picture source: Heinsius, Maria. "Der Paradiesgarten der Harrad van Landsberg."
This picture is often thought to depict only a children's toy or game - Picture source: Simmen, Rene. "The World of Puppets"
"From India, chess made its way to Persia..." - Picture source: Grunfeld, Frederic V., ed. "Games of the World"
"Mediaeval Egyptian shadow puppets [were] discovered in Menzala by Professor Kahle early this century." (See pictures.) - Picture source: Kahle, Paul. "Islamische Schattenspielfiguren aus Egypten" in Der Islam, vol. 1
...identical to those used centuries later by English Punch and Judy showmen (see pictures) - Picture source (top): Time-Life Books: "What Life was Like in the Age of Chivalry", 1997, Picture source (bottom): Early, Alice K."English Dolls, Effigies, and Puppets."