Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Puppet Theater
(621 words)

China is the country with the richest tradition of puppet theater. It developed in interaction with the opera as musical theater. Today, two terms are used for puppet theater: mu'ouxi (wooden puppet play) and piyingxi (skin/parchment theater). Based on its popularity and significance, the theater with figures can be regarded as a precursor of television. The small itinerant theaters performed in temples and courtyards, hand puppets also on streets and markets. Its origins go way back in Chinese history to exorcism, death, and fertility cults of the…

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Werle-Burger, Helga, “Puppet Theater”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 08 February 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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