Giant Animal Puppets From, Bhanjanagar, Orissa

This age-old style of ritualistic processional Puppetry from a remote corner of Eastern India, Bhanjanagar in Orissa, has existed for more than several hundred years in an unchanged form. The style involves Large Animal puppets manipulated by two puppeteers from within the frame.

The bodies of the puppets are made of collapsible cane and rope structures covered with bright cotton cloth over which an intricate ancient style of applique is rendered to give the animals a stunning, theatrical appearance.

The face is made of a large paper mache and wooden Mask, covered with detailed ornamental painting, very typical of Orissa.

Usually,the puppeteers are the craftsmen who create the puppets.

The performance of the puppets is accompanied by drumming. Performances are based on themes ranging from devotion, celebration to environment. Each animal can perform, one at a time with a troupe of 5 performers. For each additional animal simultaneously performing, 3 additional performers are required. The total performance of 3 animals, one animal at a time lasts 30 mins. As the performance is extremely tiring, it is not possible to have closely spaced shows. The taller performers that are used for the Tiger, Horse and Bull are not suitable for the deer. The Animal forms still available are approximately 7 Feet x8Feet x 2Feet.

• Tiger
• Deer
• Horse
• Cow

Two puppeteers enter the body of the puppet while one ringmaster leads the animals around as the puppeteers inside are unable to see!

In addition to performances, workshops can be conducted that are recommended for young children, adults and puppeteers. These involve an exposure to tribal drumming, building the puppets, painting animal masks in the Oriya style, using the puppets etc.