October 16, 2021

Yoke Thay or Burmese traditional marionettes

Yoke Thay is the local name of Burmese which is not only the traditional souvenir but also one of the tour attraction things of Burmese.Firstly,we need to introduce the Burmese which is located in the South East Asia area and borders with China, LAOS, India, Bay of Bingalar, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Yoke Thay Puppet of the ancient performing arts in Myanmar

Those Yoke Thay origins come from Burmese. I think you can see those souvenirs only in Burmese. Although it looks like a toy it has full of meaning. It can move what you want and control it by String.

This marionettes appears since 11 century and at that time in Burmese administered by the Bagan King. Most tourists are very interested in how they control it and how they feature it. It can shade all parts of the body like shade with hand, shade with head, shade with legs and so on.

It is very popular in Bagan, and most of every evening in Bagan Hotel entertains this marionettes for the guest and tourist. The technique of the marionettes’ performance is very interesting.

Okay, let’s talk about the materials of marionettes. You know, it is made of wood. Firstly the creator makes the sculpture with wood and then polished it with natural dye and polish liquid and then paint. For each puppet usually made with 17 to 19 pieces of wood with 11 strings. (To control for each part of the puppet movement).

Normally we used to use 5 Strings for Head and shoulder, the arm and legs and other rest of parts controlled by 6 strings. There are 28 types of marionettes as below,Nat votaress, Horse, Elephant, Tiger , Monkey , Parrot , Alchemist, Minister, King, Prince, Princess, Prince, Regent Brahmin, Hermit Nat Deva, Old man, Old woman and Buffoon.and it is different raw material wood depending on the category.

For King and Queen marionettes, it is used with Akayit Wood and for ministers made with Lat pan wood and for normal marionettes made with regular wood. In Burmese puppetry, string drawing is the most valuable and difficult task. Wooden figurines are drawn with strings to make them look as natural as possible. During the heyday of puppetry, the maiden was said to have had at least 60 strings.

Close up of yoke thay ancient wood puppet souvenir in fresh market, Myanmar

They are tied together in Dalat and used for skillful dancing. In ancient Burmese puppets, the prince had two heads, Two shoulder straps; A girdle Two armbands; It has only two fingers attached to it, and it is as delicate as a headband.

After sculpture in wood, paint the whole and decorate with clothes. Have you ever seen the marionettes show? It is very interesting because it is usually displayed with drama with a narrator.

Between these years, the marionettes player taught the basics of how to control the marionettes and let the guest play with marionettes. This is very interesting because you need to hold the strings with harmony to shade all the time. So, If you have a plan to travel to Myanmar, you should not miss the marionettes drama.

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