Puppetry is an ancient but now slowly disappearing form of folk drama
which is always performed in open places in villages.
Puppet shows are held at night because the wonderland
atmosphere required is more easily created in the darkness of the night.
Stage setting is very simple. Two or three bare cots are placed sideways
and curtained with some multi-coloured cloth. Puppets are dressed according
to the character that they are supposed to represent. The dresses are
generally very bright and colourful. The strings tied to the puppets are
not visible in the dim light of the earthen lamp. The roles that the puppets
play are all manipulated by the puppeteer. He makes them dance, fight
and perform various other acts associated with normal human behaviour.
He keeps in his mouth a pipni, an improvised bamboo gadget through which
he filters his speech, for transforming his voice. His wife sits on one
side of the stage and plays the drum. Whenever the situation demands she
sings an appropriate song. The scenes are well enacted. The warriors fight,
the wrestlers show of mettle in bouts, the lovers suffering from the pangs
of separation are sometimes intoxicated with the ecstasy of fulfillment.
The puppeteer being generally an expert artist, presents various phases
of human life on his stage and in doing so adds his own touches of humour
Most of the puppeteers originally
came from Rajasthan or received training from a Rajasthani artist. Hence
most of the anecdotes which they present are about Rajput folk heroes.