titere de guante (Hand Puppet)

About this object

History of use

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

Narrative

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

Hand puppet of Maria (Mary). Head and arms are carved from wood and painted. The hands are disproportionately large. She has black eyes and eyebrows, straight black chin-length hair with ears visible, and a small red mouth. Her fabric outfit is teal and painted with light blue designs decorated with red and black dots. The fabric is nailed to the hands and head. Operated by inserting a hand inside the body of the puppet to control its head, arms and movements.