- Published: 01 May 2008
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Myra Moore, age 12, of Lake Charles, La., for her question:
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PUPPET AND MARIONETTE?
A puppet is a doll like figure whose movements are controlled by a person. Puppets can be moved by the hand, by rods or by wires andstrings. A marionette is a type of puppet. It has a complete body including head, arms, hands, legs and feet and is controlled from above by wires or strings that are attached to various parts of the marionette's body. Puppets have been around for centuries. They have been found in the ruins and tombs of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. The first ones were probably used in religious ceremonies.
The most common type of puppet is the hand puppet. The head and body fits over a person's hand with the thumb and a finger going into the puppet's arms. Most hand puppets do not have legs since they are controlled from the bottom.
A puppeteer can use a bookcase or table as a stage, or a curtained area can be used. The puppeteer is usually concealed so the audience seeps only the performing puppets.
A glove puppet named Punch and his friend Judy have been the stars of English puppet shows since they were first introduced back in 1662. Through the years puppets that resemble Punch sad Judy have appeared regularly in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Famous television hand puppets today are featured on the "Sesame Street" and "Captain Kangaroo" shows.
Another type of hand puppet is called the muppet by American TV puppeteer Jim Henson. The operator's thumb forms the jaw and various fingers are used to change the muppet's expression and the shape of its head. The operator's other hand forms the muppet's body.
The name "marionette" comes from Italy. Back in the Middle Ages, small jointed Nativity figures including the Christ Child and the Mother Mary were made to move by strings. These were called Marionettes, or "Little Marys." The term today is used for all puppet figures animated by strings from above.
One of the the world's most famous marionettes is the star of the children's classic "Pinocchio." In this story, the puppet came to life.
Rod puppets are operated from below the stage with sticks or rods. One kind is called the marotte. It has nothing more than a head mounted on a stick. Other rod puppets have rods fastened to movable arms and hands.
Japan has a well known form of puppet show called the doll theater, or (ital) bunraku (unital). The puppets era about four feat tall. Puppeteers, in full view of the audience, operate them from behind with rods.
Dummies are puppets that are used by ventriloquists. The operator pretends to talk to the dummy, which he usually holds on his knee. He "throws" his voice so the dummy appears to be speaking. Rods and strings inside the puppet allow the ventriloquist to cove its head and parts of its face from the back