» » Portret van een Siciliaanse Pupi (pop) | reisfotografie

Portret van een Siciliaanse Pupi (pop) | reisfotografie

While walking through the magnificent narrow streets of Taormina in the wonderful company of my wife and daughter, outside a souvenir shop there was what it is to most people a simple typical Sicilian souvenir: a pupo.

Any visitor of some Sicilian cities such as Palermo and Catania has seen them: shops selling wooden marionettes, bedecked in bronze armor with historic names like Orlando and Rinaldo. They may look like tacky souvenirs made for the tourist market but these marionettes are a core symbol of Sicilian folk-art and as integral to the Island’s cultural identity as painted horse carts and cannoli. The marionettes are the major props in the Opera dei Pupi, a traditional form of Sicilian entertainment that is trying to survive in the age of mass media and television and is protected as “Intangible” Cultural Heritage by Unesco. Today the shops selling replica marionettes outnumber the actual theatres but there are still several family-run.

The modern tradition that can still be seen in Sicily originated in the early 19th century but the roots of the Opera dei Pupi stretch back to at least the 15th century. Puppets and marionettes were a popular form of entertainment throughout Medieval Europe for all classes of people and it is probable that the earliest performances involved local history and folklore. With each subsequent conqueror of Sicily, a new group of people would leave their own cultural stamp upon the emerging folk tradition. In Sicily, this form of entertainment uses wooden marionettes on strings and metal wires instead of hand puppets made of cloth.



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