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March 21, 2024 – World Puppeteer Day: History and traditions of the date

Puppet theater existed in 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt. Performances were held on holidays. Instead of dolls, the performances used figurines, which were “animated” with the help of strings. Public news service I found out what the history and traditions of World Puppeteer Day are.

In the fifth century BC, puppet theater was performed in Ancient Greece. And in the first century AD, the Greek scientist Heron came up with and invented a mechanical puppet theater, which was presented in the form of a structure of four columns with a common base and a beam ceiling at the top. The structure moved on wheels, and the dolls were set in motion by mechanisms and cords that were hidden from the eyes of the audience. The theatrical production was dedicated to the god of vegetation, viticulture, winemaking, and theater – Dionysus, who was the central figure on the stage.

Puppet theaters arose in different countries. Some theaters became permanent, while others became temporary. The characters were born from legends, fables, and ancient literature. The dolls showed the lifestyle and behavior of people. Attitudes towards puppeteers varied and were not always positive. In China, the art of puppeteers was considered diabolical, and in Europe, artists could be arrested, sent to prison and even burned at the stake.

The history of the creation of World Puppeteer Day

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  • In 2000, the XVIII Congress of UNIMA, the International Union of Puppet Theater Workers, was held in Magdeburg. The famous Iranian puppet theater figure Jivada Zolfagariho, who took part in the Congress, made a proposal to celebrate the International Puppet Theater Day throughout the world. The discussion was active, but they could not make a unanimous decision on the time and place of the meeting. Only two years later, in June 2002 in Atlanta, at a meeting of the UNIMA International Council, the date for the event was determined – March 21.
  • UNIMA President Margarita Niculescu addressed all puppet theater workers: “Let puppet shows be performed on this day, discussions held, meetings held, let all professionals and lovers of one of the oldest forms of art – puppet theater unite! Let everyone around you become participants in our holiday! Let everyone find themselves in the puppet theater!”
  • Since March 21, 2003, professionals, amateurs and fans of puppet theater around the world have been celebrating International Puppeteer Day.

Traditions

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Today, World Puppeteer Day is celebrated on a grand scale around the world. Workers of theaters and creative puppet groups show the most unusual puppet performances. Concerts, creative meetings, and various events are organized. Creative doll workshops open their doors to visitors, conduct master classes and talk about the history of doll creation. There are puppet museums and exhibitions of puppetry masters. Puppet shows are shown in kindergartens.

Each doll is an exclusive work of art, subtly reflecting human culture, life, and traditions.

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