As part of our tour of the Quanzhou Marionette Troupe’s headquarters, we went through storage and display rooms with a collection of marionette designs and characters so vast, it felt like a review of “5,000 Years of Chinese History” (ahem) in puppet form.

Some of the figures represented in marionette form are exactly what you’d expect.

The Tang Dynasty sages and The Monkey King marionettes, sure, no big shock there.

The marionettes representing soldiers in the Chinese revolutionary war, OK, that seemed to make sense after I saw them.


The set depicting a pair of Japanese “Little Barbarian” invaders and their captive Chinese prisoner, well, that was as startling as my 2-year old’s follow-up question: “Daddy, why he got a doggie chain ’round he’s neck?”

Anyway, here’s your visual tour of just some of the Quanzhou Marionette display cases…

This first marionette is a replica of one found in 1979 during the excavation of a West Han Dynasy tomb in Shandong Province. The tomb and marionette were estimated to be over 2000 years old. The original marionette is as tall as me, 193cm/6’5″, but the one on display here is just half that size:

Head case:

The Period of Japanese Occupation:

The Communist Revolution:

Note: If you’d like to plan a visit to the Quanzhou Marionette Troupe Headquarters, Bill and Sue Brown have some additional information–including lots more background on Quanzhou Marionettes–for you over at Amoy Magic.

To visit the Troupe’s own Web site, in Chinese and with embedded midi audio on every page, go to