Potehi Puppet, Chinese Cultural Composition and Archipelago

Helloindonesia.id – The Chinese peranakan community has become an inseparable part of the Indonesian nation. Traditional Chinese art also gives color to the culture of the archipelago. Compounding cultural elements from mainland China with the character of local culture presents its own uniqueness in the tradition that developed in the Chinese peranakan community in Indonesia. This uniqueness is so pronounced in the traditional performance of potehi puppets.

Puppet potehi is a traditional puppet performance art from South China. “Potehi” comes from the root words “pou” (cloth), “te” (bag), and “hi” (puppet). Literally, meaning puppets in the form of cloth bags. This puppet is played using five fingers. Three middle fingers control the head, while the thumb and little finger control the puppet’s hand.

Allegedly, the roots of Potehi puppet art have developed for approximately 3,000 years. Historical evidence that is more strongly showing its existence in China has existed since the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). This art is expected to enter the archipelago with trade expeditions around the 16th century. This puppet art developed in various regions in Indonesia.

This traditional art has experienced ups and downs throughout the course of its history on earth Indonesia. During President Soekarno’s time, potehi puppets were quite popular in the community. But at the beginning of the New Order era, this puppet art disappeared from people’s lives. At that time, potehi puppets were only shown in limited circles. This art began to stir in the spirit of freedom in the reform era. Potehi puppets began to be staged in various places, and even extended to shopping centers, especially during Chinese New Year.
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