Monday, June 30, 2014

Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum (林柳新紀念偶戲博物館) [Taiwan Day 302: Asian Puppets - June 29, 2014]


If you use Google translate to know the Chinese of ‘three hundred’, you will get sānbǎi (三百) [Filipino: san-bay] where sān means 3 and bǎi means 100 put it together it means 3 x 100 which is 300. I’ve been here for over 300 days and it’s the start of another cycle in my Taiwan Day Adventures. Every 100 days is like a new chapter in my stay in Taiwan. Three good friends left Taiwan after finishing their internship and I was alone again. Nevertheless, they were part of my Taiwan Day 200 (Liǎngbǎi) series. People come and go but my stories of my adventures and misadventures in Taiwan will always continue. Another 100 days, another cycle, another chapter…

 It was a weekend and I need to go somewhere again. I only have 4 hours of sleep due to the take-home final exam in Statistics and I still feel weak. I need to go somewhere just within Taipei so I can go back easily to the dorm and take a rest. I chose to see the Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum. It was a nice place to learn about Taiwanese folk arts.




I went there via the MRT Red Line. From the Shuanglian station I walk for about about 1 kilometer  to find the 4 story building along Xi-Ning N. Road. The price of a regular ticket is 80 NTD but since I am a student I only paid 50 NTD. My destination was in Dadaocheng area which I visited in Taiwan Day 152 (Retro Taipei) so the place was familiar to me.



























After paying I went directly to the second floor and from there I learned about the ‘one-man puppet theater’ in China. It was a form of entertainment in China in the old days where a man carrying a large box containing puppets and other paraphernalia builds his own small stage and uses many puppets to entertain the audience. There is also a DIY area in the second floor where you can experience having your own glove puppet theatre opera. A little bit corny but I just took the chance to take pictures.



An interesting area in the second floor was the ‘Ugly Parlour’. Asian puppets in the old days were ugly. During a performance, the appearance of an ugly puppet usually brings laughter to the audience especially when an ugly puppet do things like limping instead of walking in the stage. An ugly puppet or puppet with physical defects was associated to being funny in puppet theaters.






The third floor of the museum boasts the modern of area of puppet theaters and there was a time when puppet shows become popular in Taiwanese television. Creative stories were made to keep the audience from watching the show. The museum also have collections of puppets used in those TV shows and in contrast to the puppets in the old days which were made of wood, the puppets used in the television shows were made of plastic.























My favorite of all the collections in the museum was the shadow puppets. I felt that I was like a child again trying to pose with shadow puppets in my hands within 10 seconds before my camera flashes its light. Upstairs in the fourth floor was an exhibit about ghost puppets and hell. I deleted some of the photos that I have taken since they were creepy. Up to now I’m still bothered by the goat puppet that I saw.




Vietnamese water puppet

string puppets from around the world



Outside the fourth floor was the rooftop area and there was a pool where I experienced having fun with Vietnamese water puppets. I went down to the first floor to check the marionettes displayed there. Marionettes from different countries were displayed each portraying the culture of the country that they came from.



at the workshop in the first floor of the museum










The highlight of my visit was an interview to a staff in the Puppet Workshop in the museum. His name was ‘A-ne.’ I don’t know if I really spelled his name correctly but I have videos while interviewing him and he showed me how to move and manipulate the wooden marionette and a Chinese glove puppet. I consider A-ne as a real puppet master.


An-le showing how to move a string puppet.

I tried to manipulate the wooden marionette and I also have a photo of with it. I also tried the Asian glove puppet. A-ne told me that I need to increase the angle created by my index finger and my middle finger so that my glove puppet won’t look like that its head was bent to the side. Haha! He told me that he performs stretching exercises for his index and middle finger and that is why the movements of the glove puppet was perfect.




To summarize, my first trip in my Taiwan Day Sānbǎi series was a good hands-on experience. The shadow puppet, the glove puppet and the marionette, with practice I will become a real master of these Asian puppets.

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