Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dance of the Marionette

  I have a love for marionettes, mostly because it's a Czech tradition. But tradition aside, marionettes have made their way into my heart, and that's where they'll always remain.  

Meet my marionettes, Čert a Doktor...

The art of Czech marionette and puppet making goes back to the 18th century. They are traditionally hand-carved from wood or made from plaster. They represent all kinds of characters ...from devils, witches and wizards to clowns, kings and princesses, and even Czech "celebrities" such as Spejbl, Hurvínek, or the Czech literary character of Švejk.  Many of these beautiful, elaborately carved Czech marionettes are works of art.  They make fabulous gifts as well!  Know a doctor?  Isn't my doktor marionette a cutie?  See where I'm going with this? 
PS...Shopping info is listed below 


Here's Don Giovanni performed by, well, marionettes!
(PS...if you were in the audience you wouldn't see all the hands)

Marionettes aren't just for kids!

Do I spy Peter Pan?

Look closely...you never know who may strike your fancy

Ah hahahhahha... The Tax Collector is priceless!

Is that Santa Claus?!

Here's an recent article from The Christian Science Monitor:
Czech puppetry tradition comes with strings attached
The Czech Republic has a long tradition of puppetry, which carried on cultural and language traditions when the Austro-Hungarian Empire discouraged Czech nationalism

Bins of body parts are stacked in Miroslav Trejtnar’s Prague studio. Three heads line his workbench. A smell of wood permeates the air.
“I don’t get so many requests to make puppets nowadays,” says Mr. Trejtnar, a traditional Czech puppetmaker. “I always made puppets for myself and others, but now I am more interested in teaching it.”
Czech puppetry dates back to the late 1800s, when puppeteers traveled by wagon to entertain villagers. The nation was still governed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so Czech nationalism wasn’t encouraged. Puppets were a way to keep cultural and language traditions alive through storytelling, says Trejtnar.
Under communism, puppet theaters were state-owned and focused on Russian theater traditions and stories. Even today’s puppet theater is more geared toward tourists than true Czech tradition.
“I never intended to keep the tradition alive.... I just ... want to pass [knowledge] along,” he says. “Puppet theater is a ... comprehensive art form; theater, literature, visual, music, sculpting, painting all together.” Trejtnar estimates he has taught more than 400 students from around the world over the past 10 years. Students learn carving, painting, how to make costumes, and puppet design.


There are many shops in Prague, but here's one I really like called Obchod loutkami (The Puppet Shop).  
They're located at Nerudova 51 (top of the street) in Lesser Town. Two other locations are at Jilská 7 and Jilská 22 in Old Town, not far from the Old Town Square.  They ship worldwide, too, and their website is http://www.czechmarionettes.com/

For those of you who don't live in CZ, besides Obchod loutkami, which I mentioned above, another shop that ships worldwide is http://www.loutky.cz/en/home/