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Puppetry Day

"That's the way to do it!"

~ Punch and Judy

Hand puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets, finger puppets, ventriloquist's dummies, or marionettes ... are you a fan, or not? If you've ever seen a Punch and Judy show, you may have seen a modernized pleasant version for today's sensibilities. However, in the original story line, Punch eventually beats not only his wife to death, but also his infant child, a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer and the Devil himself! Punch is so deliciously self-satisfied with his sadism, that he constantly utters his catchphrase: “That’s the way to do it!” Punch’s strutting pride in his awful deeds is what led to the coining of the phrase (in the early 1800s) of being “pleased as Punch.” Yikes!

World Puppet day was endorsed by the UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette - International Puppetry Association) in 2003.

This tartan was recreated from a threadcount taken from a puppet's clothing in the Castle Museum, York.

Puppetry is an ancient art form, thought to have originated about 3000 years ago. Puppets have been used since the earliest times, possibly predating actors in theatre, to animate and communicate ideas, stories,  and the human condition.  


As early as 2000 BC  string-operated figures of wood were manipulated to perform the action of kneading bread in Egypt.  Wire controlled, articulated puppets made of clay and ivory have also been found in Egyptian tombs.  Hieroglyphs also describe "walking statues" used in Ancient Egyptian religious dramas. 

The early 16th and 17th centuries show evidence of puppet shows in written records in the Britain and Scotland. 

Italian performers travelled fairly extensively in Scotland at this time, and along with gypsy performers, are believed to have used puppets at market places, fairs, and races.

The traditional British Punch and Judy puppetry traces its roots to the 16th century to the Italian commedia dell'arte. The character of "Punch" derives from the character Pulcinella, which was Anglicized to Punchinello.  Punch's wife was originally "Joan", but later became "Judy".   During the nineteenth century, the "Punch" puppet became very popular in glove puppet form, though marionettes continued to be very widely used.  

For more about Punch and Judy, click the puppet theater.