Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Performing Arts

Puttli Kari

Putli Tamasha, Katth Puttli

Making of Puppets


Puppets made of wood, wooden rods, cotton & cloth stuffing etc. are being manipulated by attaching strings or threads. Performers to sit at the background. Music is an essential ingredient during puppet performance.

Reasons for selection

Puppetry is an old folk art of the region. String puppets were used by the people for entertainment in the evening after long hours of work. It helped in transition of culture in between the regions, as puppets groups used to travel throughout the country. But now the art is not succeeding in the next generation and fear of its extinction looms large.

Area where performed

Particularly in Punjab, however can also be found in other regions.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Puppet Theatre

Detailed explanation

The folk art of string puppetry is centuries old in the region, being performed at local festivals and through villages, as these groups (of performers)used to roam throughout the area/region.

When & how it is performed
Traditionally these performances were given in folk festivals in the evening under the light of oil lamps. A cloth sheet was tied to two poles or spread on a wooden frame leaving a little gap between it and ground. Puppeteers then performed with the string various folk drama or skits or traditional dances through these puppets. The farmers after toiling hard in their fields used to sit in chopal (meeting place of people of village)in the evening and be refreshed by witnessing a puppet show.

Its characteristics
Puppets are made locally with different kind of material such as wood, cloth and cotton, mud etc., then attired with beautiful clothes, ready for performance. Oil lamps were used to give shadow effect as per requirement.

Puppets are manipulated with strings attached to the edges of wooden base which a puppeteer holds in his hands from its centre and performers.

This is indeed a dramatic form with many fine artists, providing entertainment and education to children & adults at the same time.

Puppetry can be termed as the oldest form of dramatic art which has been proved as pictures and statues excavated from Ghandara civilization stands testimony to it. It even existed when Aryans invaded the sub-continent.

In Pakistan, the exact period of its origin cannot be determined. It has been there through centuries and the carrier of influence of one culture on the other in between the regions.

But at present due to change in life style of people brought through modernization has greatly affected traditional arts, and puppetry is one of them. For better living now people are adopting other professions which is resulting in lack of skilled puppeteers.

Publication and textual documentation

no information at present

Audio documentation

not yet available

Visual documentation

no information at present

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

-National Puppet Theatre, Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Islamabad.
-Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, Lahore.
-Society for the Promotion of Dramatic Arts, Lahore.
-National Collage of Arts Puppet Group, Lahore.
-Essena's String Puppets, Lahore.
-Farooq Qaiser's Puppet Group, Islamabad.

Data provider

Mr. M. Sahid Moeeni
Programme Executive, Cultural Pacts Implementation Division
Pakistan National Council of the Arts
Address: Block 6/c, Markaz F-7, Islamabad, Pakistan