caja para títeres (Hand Puppet Box)

About this object

History of use

During traditional use in Sierra de Puebla dance dramas, the puppets, Mary and Joseph (that came in the box), did not speak, but would simply have clapped their oversize wooden hands in appreciation of the dancers.


These sets of puppets and boxes (3341/1-12) are similar to those illustrated and described in "Mexican Masks and Puppets: Master Carvers of the Sierra De Puebla" by Bryan J. Stevens (2012), and may have been carved by the same maker. Agapillo Sagreiro, the seller, is a campesino who worked the land (in the Teziutlan area) until he became too old. (In 2018 he was about 80 years old.) He now spends much of his life in Mexico City, with one of his daughters, and sells goods at La Lagunilla, a Mexico City flea market, most Sundays. He sells masks, costumes, helmets and related items from his home region on behalf of other campesinos, widows of dancers, or leaders of dance groups that have now become defunct. The carver of these puppets likely used to make puppets for use in traditional dance dramas, but the puppet sets now appear to be made as folk art, to be sold to museums and collectors. Since the 1960s, dance dramas in the Sierra de Puebla have become less and less common, and are no longer concentrated in rancherias, only in a few specific towns.

Physical description

Wooden box (caja para títeres), painted, to hold hand puppets. Box is cube-shaped, with a shallow hinged lid with handle aligned front to back. There is a small hook and eye latch to secure the box. Each side has a scene painted within a frame of brown with either green x's or yellow dots in the corners. The front depicts a large coati(?) head surrounded by polka dots. The left side has written, 'Mexcal Pue. Tejonen Titirite-ros'. The back depicts a church, a cactus, large tree, and coati(?) under a large red sun. The right side depicts voladores or flying pole dance with four men suspended from a pole. The lid depicts two people dancing(?) in a row.