30 July 2012

Back to traditional puppetry: Mali's Bozo

After a long break with the traditional, it's time to take a look back and reflect how far we've really come with most of our recent posts focusing on 'The Muppets' and modern puppetry. But we have to take a look back, now and again, to where the traditions and roots of our art originate. Puppetry goes back to many cultures baring the shamanistic origins, with maybe the West African traditions being the best preserved.

Yaya Couli-baly and his family has been making puppets for generations in Mali. He began learning puppetry when he was 10, and it took him a long time to get the approval of his tribe to start his work. The puppets are carved in wood and assembled together. Yaya is the leading custodian of the Bambara puppetry tradition, owning eight thousand puppets handed down from his ancestors. It's one of Africa's oldest and richest surviving puppetry traditions. You can watch another short film of their work here.  The BBC featured a beautiful photographic retrospective last year on Yaya's work. Check it out here!

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