We walked around Huwei and came across the Yunlin Puppet Museum. Puppets have been around for quite a while and have embedded themselves within the Asian culture. It just so happened that where we live, Huwei, has its own museum. We saw a large crowd outside of it and walked across the street to check it out. This is what we saw.
Inside the Yunlin Puppet Museum
Inside the first viewing room, are displays of how the puppets are made, and different items that the artists hand craft for each one. No detail was too small, we saw examples of head gear, clothes, weapons, and heads, all with the tiniest details stitched or carved into them.
There were also many historical photographs that showed how they travel around to perform their shows. The stage is set up in the back of a flatbed truck. There are also some video clips playing from one of the episodes of a TV program, these are very popular in China and Taiwan. At the end of the room we saw another crowd gathered around many warrior puppets that were striking a pose. I believe these were some of the more famous ones from some of the shows. They looked intense.
Yunlin Puppet Museum’s International Festival
So after we toured the museum, we talked to a few people that were sitting at a table handing out programs. It had a list of many different shows over a 2 week period under the heading “Yunlin International Puppet Festival.” All shows are free and feature acts from countries all over the world. It’s held every year, usually in October. It’s one of the few things Huwei, Taiwan is famous for!
Back Outside the Yunlin Puppet Museum
We headed back outside the Yunlin Puppet Museum where a few different puppeteers walked around performing and taking pictures. Liz asked to take a picture and the guy happily obliged us. After I took a picture with him, he pointed one finger towards the sky and said something in Chinese. I didn’t understand at first, but finally I pointed my finger up too, and he immediately placed the puppet on my hand! The one finger is used to control their head, eyes, and mouth. People started taking pictures of me holding this puppet like I had any clue of what the heck I was doing, but we got a nice picture out of it.
After leaving the museum grounds, we headed across the street and saw a group of art cars parked, so we went over to check them out. Plastered all over the cars were images of different warrior puppets, and a lot of rhinestones to make it all sparkle. It was definitely the strangest art car exhibit I have ever seen.
Watching a show at the Yunlin Puppet Festival
The next day we went with a few of our new friends from church and watched the show. The show was cool, but kind of long. Any sort of dialogue was lost to us, but the fight scenes were really cool. When 2 puppets fought and their swords collided, someone put two metal rods together and created a shower of sparks. Also at one point a puppet was beheaded, and another shot a huge fireball and torched all of his enemies.
The puppeteer that performed was one of the most famous in all of Asia, and had been performing on TV for decades. He came on stage before and after the show, dressed in a bright red sequined shirt and showed off a few of his tricks. He also voiced all of the different characters in the show, while others moved them around.
We were very fortunate to arrive in Huwei, Taiwan almost at the exact time this all began, and we will never forget this experience.