Witness the Masters of the Strings on Belmond Orcaella
by Blake Johnson Aug 11, 2017
Entertainment has come to exist since ancient civilizations began to form on Earth. Toys, sports, martial art and so on has become the foundation of wealth and happiness among the citizens. And now, you will have a special chance to contemplate the ancient marionette puppetry of Burmese, called Yoke Thé while traveling on Belmond Orcaella Cruise in Myanmar,
History of Yoke Thé
The creation of this traditional Burmese art has traces dated back in 15th century. It was, later on, introduced into the Royal families by U Thaw, the Minister of Royal Entertainment. As a result, this form of entertainment was slowly in favor with the Royal and continued to thrive since the 1700s. After hundreds of years, the Burmese puppetry still retains its original features and characteristics for tourists and future generations in the country.
The Burmese Marionette and its troupe
It is hard to imagine how the performer controls male character (with 18 wires) or 19 female one (with 19 wires) to seem as lively as possible. The puppets will stand and perform on a raised platform while the performers stand behind and hold the strings. Moreover, the shows usually have music and sound effects to bring the souls of the character into the puppet. Singers will stand or sit next to the puppet controller and sings or deliver few lines of dialogue.
There are 27 characters in a troupe including a king, a prince, a princess, animals (like a horse, elephant) and so forth. Each will have a different role, features, and dialogues. As a result, the audience will have a broader view into the life of Royal. The stage always has a background representing the scene and context and other items such as a throne. As the puppets dance and move around the stage, the audience is going to have a great performance filled with joy, drum beat, and surprise.
Puppets Dancing Lively
The making of each puppet is also needed quite a lot of effort and time as they have to be resistant, yet light for easier maneuver. Formed from up to 19 parts, the puppet size is about 45-70 cm. Clothes and accessories must also be appropriate to the character.
The Making of Puppets
Meanings and political purpose of Yoke Thé
Yoke Thé plays an important role in showing the spiritual life of the Burmese, especially ones in Royal family. Their stories are based on The Jataka tales, consisting of 547 poems about the Gautama Buddha’s past lives, and legends or folk tales. Jataka tales symbolized goods and evils as there will be reward and punishment. Each piece of stories will talk about a specific virtue like wisdom, family love.
Puppets on Display in Myanmar
Burmese Marionette was first promoted into the Royal, thus it was influenced significantly by them. For instance, the Burmese king even banned the live actor on the stage since it was disrespectful for people who stand taller than Royal audience. This allows puppetry to grow exponentially over the years until the late 19th century.
Tourist Contemplating a Puppet
Other than that, this art usually used to convey the message of the king or his people. The king may ask the puppeteer to perform in order to tell his wives and children upon reckless behaviors. In another situation, the people may ask the puppeteer to show their thoughts on a particular matter without disrespectful to their ruler, which could lead to their death.
Yoke Thé on Belmond Orcaella
Nowadays, the Burmese keep their traditional puppetry in the large theatre allowing tourists and citizens to contemplate the art. The show is held frequently in places such as Mandalay Marionettes Theatre, so travelers can easily find a stage to watch.
Puppeteer Preparing for the Show
However, if you travel on Belmond Orcaella, you can also be the audience of the marionette show. In order to keep this tradition and promote it, the staffs and manager on the cruise are willing to organize an authentic performance during the luxurious meal. It is time to explore Burma’s natural beauty and also the treasure of the people.