Hand Puppet

About this object

History of use

The puppet represents a character from a form of popular puppet theatre, found in northeastern Brazil, called mamulengo. This type of theatre is prevalent in disenfranchised communities with ancestral ties to colonized Indigenous peoples and uprooted, enslaved Africans. Mamulengo performances are entertaining events that can last all night long, with puppeteers (mamulengueiros) using 70 to 100 puppets in one staging. The stages are pop-up stands (empanadas), made of brightly coloured, floral-printed cloth. The shows consist of short sequences (passagens), or skits from popular stories that expose the inequalities and dramas of everyday life, profiling stock characters such as rich landowners and peasant labourers. The whole is spun together with humour, satire, lively music, and audience commentary.

Physical description

Hand puppet of a 'Professor Mestre Guedes' character. Head and hands are carved from wood and painted. He has pink skin, almond-shaped eyes with small black pupils, a closed mouth, and adhered black hair, thin moustache and beard. His fabric body / tunic is dark blue with large pink-red and yellow flowers. The fabric covered foam tubes are adhered to the hands. Operated by inserting a hand inside the body of the puppet to control its head and movements.