Traditional Burmese puppets hang forlornly in a shop, waiting for someone to take them home. Puppet shows are not as popular as they once were. Television, videos, etc. have taken their place. I overheard one guide say that “Puppet shows are for tourists.”
We had been scheduled to see a puppet show, but we missed it. After seeing these works of art, I’d like to have seen a puppet play even if I couldn’t understand the language.
The puppets in the photo above are Nats. This is the Burmese name for spirits. I think they can be good or bad. There is a small house, like a large bird house, outside each village and also outside of many homes and shops. These are Nat Houses and the people place offerings in them, such as flowers or fruit. There are no statues in the Nat houses, just the offerings.
The Nats seem to be men with moustaches. They remind me of Italian organ grinders of the last century. The puppets can be quite detailed. For instance, the puppets in the photo had eyes that opened and closed with each shake of its head.
They were inexpensive, especially the small ones made for tourists. I bought several large ones. I was taken by their beautiful expressions and didn’t notice how heavy they were as they are made entirely of wood. They worked their ‘Nat magic’ though and I was able to carry them around for two weeks and get them safely on the plane. Now they sit in my library smiling at me as I drink my coffee.
I used my plug-ins for Photoshop to change this photo to a digital painting. Increasing saturation, blurring and then Snap Art 3 gave it a Yugoslavian Naive Art look.