High Time to Revive Myanmar Puppet Tradition
History has many marvels up its sleeve. These marvels consist of traditions, monuments, culture and customs. Myanmar people too have been bestowed with numerous customs and traditions by their ancestors. Puppet art is one such tradition which was very famous in 17th and 18th century. During that time, puppets were not only used for entertainment purposes but also as a communication medium for the rural population. Puppeteers were nothing short of national heroes serving a public cause.
In the golden days of puppet culture, the puppet plays contained a message for the king. This was done because no common man could advise directly to the king. So, whenever there was a issue, puppeteers used to weave it in a puppet play and present a stage show before the king. The king would watch the play and then take the required action. Many lives were saved due to these puppets. But slowly, this puppet culture started to fade away. And by the time of 20th century it was only used for entertainment purposes.
Though, there are some groups who still organize puppet shows but they too are facing tough times. With little audience the financial situation of these groups is dwindling. Such groups provide financial support to poor and old puppeteers while also strive to save this otherwise dying art.
One such famous puppet group is HTWE OO MYANMAR, which is based in Yangon (Rangoon). This is an international marionette and music group and is leading by U Knih Maung Htwe. One of the prime goals of this group is to preserve the puppet art form. They also teach young students how to organize puppet shows and are deeply involved in spreading the knowledge of this rich and vibrant art form throughout the world.
They also aim to pass on this art to the younger Myanmar generation and create new job opportunities by organizing more puppet shows. The HTWE OO group has also participated in some international cultural festivals such as LAKHAON International Theatre Festival (Cambodia) and 19th Interdock International Puppet Theatre Festival (Sweden).
It is high time that people realize that one of their cultural gems slowly fading away. Society should contribute to save this art by participating or at least watching puppet performances. Also, media should popularize the puppet tradition by introducing better marketing strategies.
People of a country are known for their cultural and traditional values. Some long term steps must be taken in order to ensure that coming generations also enjoy this traditional gem.