The 1st puppets originated on the subcontinent of India and quickly found a way to Southeast Asia and Europe. Czech people have loved the art of the puppeteer for hundreds of years; during times of intense Prussian influence throughout the eighteenth century, travelling puppeteer troupes kept the Czech humour and language alive in rural areas. Whilst the “legitimate” theatre’s language was always German, Czech was allowed if it was spoken by a puppet.
Until recent times, the majority of grand-fathers felt obligated to pass a collection of their personal linden wooden carved designs onto their grandsons. The influence of puppetry hit its’ peak from 1938 to 1989, while the Czechs were governed by several puppet regimes. These days, Hurvínek and Špejbl, who own a permanent stage located in Prague, are the best Czechs for children from Patagonia to Japan. Film Producer, Jan Švankmajer, is transforming wood characters into award winning movie stars.
The majority of puppets bought in the touristy shops of Český Krumlov and Prague are supposed to be souvenirs. It is a rare artist who can transform bits of wood into agile puppets, and the value of these can escalate into 1000’s of dollars. However, because the puppets boast a vibrant present and a celebrated past in the Czech Rep, even a straightforward witch, Pinocchio or jester will be a nice way to remember your Czech adventures.
Galerie Marionette – The marionettes sold here are known to be very expensive, but this is because they have been crafted by master artisans, who have spent many hours on each one. It’s located in U Lužichého semináře 7, Lesser Town and can be reached by getting off at the Malostranská stop on the Metro A line. Open from 10am until 6pm, Monday-Saturday. www.czechmarionettes.com or www.marionettes-rici.com