Myanmar Puppet

Myanmar called it Yoke Tae, is essentially a string puppet. It is a royal entertainment in ancient Myanmar not only showing the wooden doll but the representation of a real human. The art was already established in the 11th century during the time of Bagan Dynasty. And then, its popularity declined after the fall of Bagan accompanied by the dominance of Shan and Mon. But, it appealed the people afterwards and in a great demand at courts especially in the Kong Bong Dynasty (A.D 1752-1885). The sculptors who made the puppet required to follow strict rule on the choice of types of wood in carving particular figures. And then there are some works to finish up such as assembling different parts, painting and embroidery. The performance is manipulated by the human who stand behind the curtain. It is accompanied by the Myanmar Traditional Music Band (Saing Wai) with various instruments & person(s) who sing/voice on behalf of the puppet. Myanmar marionette is still holding national characteristic and original Myanmar Tradition.


The psychological, perhaps a logical, explanation to puppetry is quite interesting. A form of ancient art, puppetry is a way to inform, to educate, and to entertain the people (the royal families alike). Themes in puppetry were always drawn from the Buddha Life with His 550 Birth Stories. No real human-representation was dare to show up with His Birth Stories as Buddha was considered “incomparable”, a string doll, called puppet was initiated. It has been always the Kings who patronized this important branch of art into Myanmar culture. But, with the ending Myanmar Royalty saw a sharp decline in puppetry. The old traditional art of marionette is almost faded away then. It is recently been encouraged and reincarnated by the patron of the government. Marionette has regained its popularity among the tourists and locals alike.