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為了應對印度 Panchalika 雜誌的約稿，專門撰寫一篇關於中國「布袋木偶」發展歷史的文章，希望同時以中文與英文供大家分享。
當佛教寺廟可以以皮影戲講解宗教教義，自然的發展，皮影戲也開始講述民間故事作為坊眾的娛樂。同時，木偶及皮影戲也隨著朝代的繁榮而得到發展，成為娛樂事業的一部分。手托木偶與提線木偶成為當時主力，當然還有皮影戲。而手托木偶還不是布袋木偶，而是杖頭木偶與布袋木偶的混合體會，十分像韓國傳統的木偶，及日本的最傳統木偶-人形淨琉璃 （Ningyō jōruri ）。
Seven hundred years of art between fingers
By Simon Wong
The glove puppet is a young species in China
The glove puppet is a young Chinese puppet species, which did not appear until the middle of the 14th century. It is indeed a bit different from the 2,000-year-old Chinese puppet and shadow play.The history of Chinese puppetry dates back to before 200 BC when the funeral culture changed due to the shortage of talents. The leaders abandoned the tradition of human sacrifice but used figures made from grass, ceramic and wood. This change in funeral culture is the beginning of puppet making. Later, in order to make the figures be more like a living person, clues of joints and manipulation were added, so the puppets became lively and an important part of the funeral ceremony.
During the Han Dynasty that began in 202 BC, when puppets changed from funeral objects to ritual movements, shadow play also began to develop. This performing art today was only a mysterious witchcraft back then, using shadows to make contact with dead relatives. Behind the scenes, with the help of light, smoke, and music, wizards brought the deceased to the shadows as a farewell ceremony to relieve people’s grief for the loss of their loved ones. Records also show that even Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty was involved. In the 400-year history of the Han Dynasty, puppets had always been a substitute for burialists, while shadow play was the magic of witchcraft. The main entertainment from the palace to the folk is still singing and dancing, mask theater and acrobatics.
Puppet and shadow play takes an important step in the entertainment industry
The peace and prosperity of the Sui and Tang dynasties began in 581 AD, puppetry also made great progress. Mechanical puppets and puppet acrobatics began to become important entertainments for the court and nobles. The funeral puppets also began to develop into funeral performances to reduce the family's sadness at the loss of loved ones. With the introduction and blooming of Buddhism following the invasion of the nomadic people from the North and Northwest to Central China 100 years ahead, the shadow play also had a new task, which was to replace the scrolls and the paintings on the walls with the silhouettes of the characters in the shadow play to promote Buddhist religious stories.
When Buddhist temples can use shadow play to explain religious doctrines, it is natural to develop shadow play and begin to tell folk stories as entertainment for the public. At the same time, puppets and shadow plays also developed with the prosperity of the dynasty and became part of the entertainment industry. At that time, hand-held puppets and string puppets became the main force, and of course there were shadow plays. The hand-held puppets were not glove puppets, but a mix of rod puppets and glove puppets, which were very similar to traditional Korean puppets and Japan's most traditional puppet-Ningyō jōruri.
Puppets and shadow play have developed brilliantly in the show businesses
In the Song Dynasty in 960 AD, for 400 consecutive years, despite the invasion of different northern nations, commercial trade flourished during the short period of peace. The popularity of cowhide lanterns made going to the evening market a popular social event. Thanks to the popularity of evening markets and frequent commercial activities, the need for entertainment had greatly increased, and the aristocracy spread to all walks of life.
Ingenuity, technology, attractive stories then determined whether a theater was competitive enough to draw the audience. As a result, theaters began to create their own secret features: rod puppets, string puppets, water puppets, and shadow play. Not only had it become adult entertainment, it also became a children's toy as seen from genetic relics.
The 100-year rule of the Mongols in China in the 10th century did not change the fact that theater entertainment was a way to escape the suffering in reality. Instead, the arts that were concentrated in the metropolis spread to remote areas and developed into puppets and shadow plays with local style. Some also say that shadow plays spread to the Middle East at this time.
The glove puppet was finally born in China
There were clear records that in the Ming Dynasty in 1368 AD, glove puppets were popular in Fujian. The technique of puppetry had changed, but of course it still inherited the same tradition of puppetry used for storytelling over the past 400 years. This tradition is not much different from the touring troupes that are popular in Spain and the Middle East, with storytellers telling stories, puppets performing at key moments and musicians playing music..
This story-telling puppet theater performance style is very similar to the traditional Vietnamese water puppets and Korean traditional puppets that we can still see today. But because the Fujian glove puppets are small, light, and varied, they can perform a lot of amazing skills. Fujian is located in the coastal area of China, therefore even after years of war, the tradition of glove puppets is still well preserved. Glove puppets have spread to all parts of China, including of course Taiwan on the other side.
Glove puppets have separated and developed
In the past 100 years in Fujian, glove puppets have become the main local performing arts. They are more popular than string puppets and shadow shows. No matter weddings, funerals, festivals, or the day of the baby’s birth, it is inevitable to invite glove puppets to perform at banquets. At that time, the Taiwan region, which was dominated by Fujianese people, was certainly the same. Glove puppets became the main entertainment of people of both rural areas and in towns, especially in the square in front of temples during festivals, but glove puppets were always street art.
At the end of the 19th century, Taiwan was taken by Japan and became a colony. The Japanese wanted to use glove puppets as political propaganda. Thus, a theater called "Japanese Emperor Citizen Puppets" appeared.
In the 1950s, the glove puppets from the Fujian region, well known for its traditional and exquisite skills, performed in Europe as a representative of China, and were affirmed by Western countries. Unfortunately, development was completely frozen during the Cultural Revolution.
Due to the cessation of natural development of Fujian glove puppets, the tradition has been preserved so far. In Taiwan in the 1950s, the Kuomintang government banned all street performances out of fear of social unrest. The need to move to theaters led to a thought that traditional street performances must be made less attractive so that they could sell their tickets. A glove puppet theater based on martial arts combat was then born -- "Golden Light Puppets."
In the 1980s, the martial arts glove puppets entered the TV screen and became the video DVD darling of today's young people in Taiwan. They also attracted a large number of supporters from Japan and South Korea. The same tradition then appeared to be different because of the political separation.
The glove puppet has been in China for 700 years but is still very young
Chinese puppets have gone through two thousand years uninterrupted, and the young glove puppets have been developed for 700 years. Today they still have a huge market value and full vitality in Taiwanese society.The future of the Chinese glove puppet, like all its distant relatives in Europe and Asia, will not easily overcome the pressure of the trend, but it is certain that he, like all the puppets in the world, will become a living history.