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.


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, arms and legs are carved from wood and painted. The hands are disproportionately large. She has black eyes and eyebrows, and a small red mouth. Her hair is composed of feathers - deep vibrant blue and light blue. On her feet she wears black sandals. Her fabric outfit is green and painted. The fabric is nailed to the hands and head. A small strap extends down inside the head. Operated by inserting a hand inside the body of the puppet to control its head, arms and movements.