mamulengo (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

Mamulengo hand puppet of a 'Sargento' (sergeant) character. Carved from wood and painted. He has orange-beige skin, wide black eyes, nose, and a closed mouth with thin red lips. He wears a carved dark green cap over painted black hair. He wears a dark teal collared shirt that is belted at the waist with shiny light green ribbon, and dark emerald green pants. The fabric is adhered to the hands, and wrapped with shiny light green ribbon at the wrist. His boots are painted black.