• In collaboration with UNICEF-Assam, the Anamika Ray Memorial Trust (ARMT) has produced a short video using string puppetry for creating mass awareness on COVID appropriate behavior.


  • Puppetry is an animated visual art form.
  • The puppeteer uses his or her skills to make the puppet, an inanimate object, talk, sing, dance, and behave the way humans do.
  • It is considered to be one of the oldest forms of storytelling in the country.

Types of Puppetry-

  • There are four types of puppetry which are discussed below:
    1. String Puppets
    2. Shadow Puppets
    3. Glove Puppets
    4. Rod Puppets

Origin of Puppetry

  • The earliest reference to the art of puppetry is found in Tamil classic ‘Silappadikaaram’ written around the 1st or 2nd century B.C.
  • Natyashastra does not mention puppetry. But it does mention “Sutradhar”- meaning the holder of strings.
    Prominently, Puppets came into being in India, under the rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire, in 3rd Century A.D.
  • It was honed into theatrical art in Andhra Pradesh. It helped to propagate the works of saints and religious leaders, and also depict stories from the Hindu epics.
  • Later, it spread to South East Asia.

Why is Puppetry dying out in India?

  • Lack of devoted audience and financial security.
  • Lack of patronage and neglect by government, non-governmental organizations, rich and influential people.
    Slow and tedious dispensation of government grants.
  • Lack of funds and platforms.
  • Modern-day entertainment options like television, movies, and the internet are pushing traditional puppetry towards a slow death.
  • Declining interest among the younger generation of artiste families because of the poor remuneration it offers.
    Most puppeteers are village-based, poorly educated, and hence lacking in marketing skills.
  • Lack of up-gradation of puppeteers’‟ skills to compete with other forms of popular entertainment in the 21st century.
  • Lack of research in puppetry. Iran has three universities dedicated to puppetry and in India, we don‟t even have as many specialized courses, let alone a university.
  • Lack of knowledge and language limitation of traditional puppeteers.
  • Rising number of individuals who pursue puppetry solely as a passion, while earning their livelihoods from regular jobs.

Silver lining


  • Puppeteers are themselves learning to branch out into related art forms or innovate in some way to keep their craft and their incomes alive. For example, Andhra Pradesh’sNimmalakunta puppeteers are now using the same puppet-making skills to make other leather products like lampshades, door decorations and more to supplement their income. In Rajasthan, puppets are sold widely as decorative items and are quite popular with tourists.


  • Puppeteers are learning to narrate modern stories and enact political or social satire-filled dramas to attract audiences. Important social messages like the education of the girl child and the importance of health and sanitation are also delivered to keep in step with modern tastes and also attract sponsorship from organizations promoting these causes.

Government efforts:

  • The central government sponsors puppetry workshops and has a few schemes to promote puppetry through education programs and hold puppetry festivals and seminars too. Some state governments are also waking up to the problem. For example, the Karnataka Government is showcasing its puppetry traditions in folk art fairs and cultural festivals, especially in Bengaluru.

Conclusion and Way Ahead

  • All the above-mentioned efforts are just not adequate.
  • Much more needs to be done on a nationwide scale to keep this tradition flourishing and ensure financial security for the artists.
  • Unless they receive financial help from the government, the chance of their survival is bleak.
  • Other steps that can be taken to revive the art are:
    ✔ improvements in training and infrastructure
    ✔ raising awareness amongst the general public by cultural media, institutions, and industries
    ✔ Puppetry can be used for effective communication with farmers on issues relating to agriculture.
    ✔ Courses on Puppetry for skill upgradation. Dedicated Institutions for the artform.
    ✔ Use of puppetry in education and therapy.
    ✔ The narration of modern stories including humorous ones and fun-filled fables.
    ✔ Enacting political or social satire-filled dramas to attract audiences.
    ✔ Investing in the Research and Development of puppetry to increase its demand in the market by further
    ✔ Internationalization of the artform through dedicated platforms.

    Download Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs of 7th July 2021

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