Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lao Puppetry and Lung Ouane Phothiphanya

Lung Ouane Phothiphanya, was one of the last Ipok puppetry masters.

Ipok puppetry originated at the former royal court of Luang Prabang, and the puppets carved for the royal family were stored there since 1975.

The puppets repertoire focuses on 3 Lao traditional stories - Karaket, Sithong Manora and Linthong.

Ipok puppets are quite different from Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese style puppets. Ipok puppets are controlled by hand and rods.

There were originally 12 puppeteers. The provincial government seeks outside assistance to preserve the art form; both the Central Puppet Troupe in Vientiane and the Children's Cultural Centre (CCC), Luang Prabang Province Performance Troupe perform Ipok puppetry, but neither version is considered authentic.

In Luang Prabang performances are given only on festival days and other special occasions. The show is preceded by a ceremony to honor the spirits of ancestors believed to reside in the puppets.

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