Marionette by GIBSON

a puppet controlled from above
using wires or strings depending
on regional variations .
Marionette's puppeteer is called a manipulator.
Marionettes are operated with the puppeteer
hidden or revealed to an audience by using a
vertical or horizontal control bar in different
forms of theatres or entertainment venues. They
have also been used in films and on television.
Parts of a
The heads of marionettes are made from
wood, porcelain, cloth, paper mache, or
plastic. Their painted or sewn features
emulate human faces, and their hair is
made from yarn, cotton, paper, felt,
synthetics, or real tresses. Mouths are
generally painted in a fixed expression,
although sophisticated marionettes may
have a movable jaw.
Hands and Feet
The extremities of a marionette are made
of wood, porcelain or hard plastic and
are weighted at the wrists and ankles
for control of their movements. The
strings attached to the extremities either
go all the way through the palm and top
of the foot and are knotted on the side
that's the least visible or are secured by
a metal screw on the top surface.
The body of a marionette is soft for
flexibility. Plastic, rubber or wooden
dowels comprise the skeletal
framework; cotton or rags stuffed inside
a muslin or knit casing are what give
the character its form and contours. Ball
bearings are often sewn into the body
cavity, arms and legs so the character
won't flap around during a breezy
afternoon performance.
The strings that control a marionette's
movements need to be sturdy enough to
support the puppet's weight but not so thick
that they become a distraction. They can
either be clear or a color. At a minimum,
strings are attached to the head, hands, knee
joints and feet. More elaborate marionettes
will have strings to operate their jaws and
eyes as well as strings attached to the
shoulders, elbows, hips, and backsides.
Cross Bar
The strings are attached by heavy staples
or metal screws to two pieces of
lightweight wood that are glued
together to resemble a cross. For more
elaborate marionettes, there is a second
piece of removable wood that rests just
above the top part of the cross and
controls the leg movements of the
Marionette costumes are made of
cotton, felt, fur, wool, burlap and
brocade. The colors and styles are
meant to depict the social/economic
station of each character in the story
and, in some cases, to incorporate
signature elements of specific
characters such as ruling monarchs or
the clergy.
Types of
control bar
Chinese / Asian Paddle control
This type of control has many strings
attached to a rounded rectangular
paddle with a short handle, all the
strings are attached and hang from the
outer edge of the paddle and are used
by selecting each string with the
opposite hand and pulling to control
the figure which hangs below.
Horizontal control
This control is a bar which is held in the hand in a horizontal
plane, there can be numerous bars attached to it at right
angles to the central bar which the Hands, shoulders and
back etc are all attached to. A smaller plate is usually hung
under the main bar and this carries the head strings. a clip
usually holds the leg bar which can be detachable for leg
movement. This style of control is generally used in the
USA for human figures and is also known as the American
control, A similar control is almost universally used for
quadruped animals as it emulates the basic shape of the
animal, rocking it from side to side will control the leg
movements in unison when strung correctly. A variant of
this style of control is also used by the Salzburg
Marionette Theatre in Austria for its human characters.
Vertical Control
This type of control is an upright bar which has various
smaller bars inserted at right angles from which the head,
Shoulder, Back etc strings etc are attached to. This control
usually has a detachable leg bar which controls walking
when held in the opposite hand. The arms are controlled
by wires which are inserted in to a hole in the shaft bent at
approximately 45 degrees to the shaft and hang loosely
with a loop at the end to attach the hand strings, these are
then moved by the fingers holding the main shaft. A tilt of
the main upright, controls the head and body with a fine
nuance, This type of control is usually called the Bristish
control Another variation of the Vertical control is found
in eastern Europe usually a rigid wire rod extends from the
centre of the head upwards and fixed rigidly to the control,
The leg bar is inserted through the main upright but pivots
on a pin to allow movement of the legs.
Styles of marionettes
Sicilian marionettes
Sicilian marionettes are among the
simplest marionettes to operate. They
are usually carved out of wood and
have a sturdy rod which extends up
through the body into the head. This
rod, and one string attached to the
hand, controls the manipulation of the
Czech marionettes
Czech rod marionettes are similar to Sicilian ones though
they are more complex. They are hand carved, usually
using lime wood. The marionettes have the central rod
like the Sicilian marionette but also have strings for the
arms and legs. Sometimes they also use string to control
a mouth or movable ears. These require more skilled
manipulation. Czechs also have marionettes that have no
central rod and strings that are attached to the head,
shoulders and back. These are the most difficult
marionettes to manipulate due to the absence of the
central rod. Miroslav Trejtnar is an acknowledged
master puppeteer and teacher of traditional Czech
marionette making skills.
Burmese marionettes
Burmese marionettes are all string operated and
are a popular art in Myanmar. Marionettes are
called Yoke thé (lit. miniatures) and are almost
always performed in operas. A Burmese
marionette troupe must have 27 characters,
including a king, animals such as horse,
elephant, tiger, monkey and parrot, ministers,
prince and princess and buffoons A hsaing
waing, a traditional Burmese orchestra usually
provides the music. Burmese marionettes are
very intricate and dexterous as they employ 18
(for male characters) or 19 (for female) wires,
each puppet controlled only by one puppeteer.
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