Theater puppet – Hanuman

Every month curators of the Asia and Pacific Museum carefully select one special object representing one of the rich cultures of the Middle East, Central Asia, Mongolia and Indonesia.

In March we pay particular attention to a puppet depicting the character of Hanuman, one of the heroes of the Indian epic Ramayana, which is the basis of many theatrical forms known in Southeast Asia. Hanuman is a white monkey, minister of Sugriva, the king of monkeys and faithful servant of Rama – the main character of the epic, whom he helps in finding and freeing his kidnapped wife Sita. Therefore it is a positive figure and usually is depicted with a white face.

The elements of the puppet are made of clay and wood, and connected to each other in a way that allows them to be moved using a system of strings and rods, which are hidden under a decorative outfit. This complicated design allows to move even the individual fingers of the hand. The puppet is animated by three people. One moves his head and the right hand, the other moves his left hand, and the third moves his feet. This requires a lot of experience and mutual understanding from them, so that the movement of the puppet is smooth and well-coordinated. The first creator of this type of puppets was Krae Saptawanit, who in 1901 initiated a new type of theater called Hun Lakhon Lek. One of his successors is Surin Yangkhiawsod, the author of the presented puppet.

This puppet was donated to the Andrzej Wawrzyniak Asia and Pacific Museum’s collection by the Royal Embassy of Thailand in Poland on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and Thailand.


Fot. Łukasz Brodowicz/MAiP

Theater puppet – Hanuman
Author: Surin Yangkhiawsod, Thailand, 2021-2022
H: 90 cm
clay, textiles, wood
donation of the Royal Thai Embassy in Warsaw, Poland
inv. numer: MAP 22184