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Puppets of Myanmar

 

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“Some say that the culture behind traditional Burmese puppets has been around for thousands of years, perhaps since the 11th century, but I’m not certain.” says Mr. Khin Maung Htwe, owner of the Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home. “Although I’m sure that it originated from over 600 years of ancient culture; we have discovered that wooden puppets were a major form of entertainment for Burmese royals ever since the 15th century. During the period of colonialism, this art migrated along the Irrawaddy River, before settling amongst the local community.”


有人说缅甸木偶文化自11世纪起,已有上千年的历史。我不确定这个一千年的说法,但我肯定它是已超过六百年的古老文化,在15世纪,它是专门作为皇家贵族的娱乐后来在殖民期间,木偶文化沿着伊洛瓦底江迁徙,最后在三角洲地区安顿下来…… ” Khin Maung Htwe先生娓娓道来,他是位于仰光Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home的木偶剧团负责人。

As with the rest of the world, cultures and old traditions are slowly fading into the background within contemporary Myanmar. However, Khin Maung Htwe remains adamant in upholding this piece of Burmese heritage, by performing alongside his family-run puppet troupe at Htwee Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home. Each puppeteer, which includes Khin Maung Htwe’s own wife and daughter, uses all ten fingers to intricately animate wooden marionettes with every pull, twist, swing, whirl and shake. There are 28 main characters in traditional Burmese puppet shows, ranging from gods, animals, monsters and royals. Traditional Burmese puppets are carved, polished, sanded and painted, before they are dressed in hand-stitched costumes; the entire process requires around twenty days of production from start to finish. Strings are also attached to every joint, including the puppet’s eyebrows in order to allow for more flexibility during each performance.


与世界各地一样,缅甸的传统文化也面临着改变和消失,但仍然有像Khin Maung Htwe先生这样热爱木偶文化的人坚持将其传承。Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppetry Home是半家族式的剧团,Khin Maung Htwe先生的女儿与太太也是木偶表演者。传统的木偶角色有神、动物、妖怪和帝王将相等28种。木偶戏剧表演艺人通过十个指头,让这些本来无魂的木偶,通过线牵艺人巧妙的运用提、拔、勾、挑、扭、抡、闪、摇等技巧,顿时有了生命一般。做到如此这般,也得益于缅甸木偶复杂精细的制作工艺。一个木偶的制作周期通常为20天,需要经过四、五道程序。从雕刻、加工、刨光,到贴金、上漆、打磨、上色、修整,从头部到身体各处13个关节,再逐一用线将上肢、下肢、腰部、颈部、手掌、甚至眉毛等串起来……此外,木偶身上的服装也都由手工艺人一针一线缝制。这样,一个木偶才拥有了神灵具备的可能性。

Unlike most performing arts, language barriers don’t exist and do not hinder the audience’s enjoyment and connection with the puppet show, and in turn, this has preserved the art form for centuries. Previously, it was even possible for a single puppeteer to control 60 strings at one time; however, this is a skill that has been lost over the years. Modern-day puppeteers usually learn to control at least 12 puppet strings.


木偶戏没有语言的沟通障碍,它生动的肢体表演也是可以流传几百年的原因。据说木偶艺人最多可以同时操控60根线,但这种技能已经失传。而现在的木偶艺人至少也要学会控制12根线,才能让木偶活灵活现起来。

Despite the increasing rarity of traditional Burmese puppetry, there are still some prominent figures within the community who are determined to keep the art form alive. We also encountered a puppet theatre group at Nanda Restaurant in Bagan, whose elderly leader was proudly passing down the art form to his grandchildren. He describes traditional Burmese puppetry as being like a performance from the soul, which is evident as he seamlessly guides and controls his puppets across the stage with both eyes completely transfixed. Building up to the climax, the veteran puppeteer twists the puppet in a 360 degree spin before catching the puppet on his shoulders, all in one continuous motion. Deeply focused on his craft, he has the expression of someone who is simply full of dedication and reverence for this ancient art form.


这传统文化虽日趋衰落,但在缅甸各地仍有坚守的艺人。同样在蒲甘Nanda餐厅里,我们遇到了一班木偶剧团,其中一位最长者将这门艺术骄傲地传给了自己的孙辈。这是一种通过心灵来表演的艺术,那位年长的艺人不断变动手中的架子,目光完全倾注于木偶身上。随着剧情进入高潮,他也从挪着小碎步一路平移,到360度连番转身,最后将木偶稳稳落于自己肩头,整个动作一气呵成。这无不体现着艺者的精湛技艺,而他的眼神始终透着对这门古老艺术的执着与敬仰。

With every passing scene, the puppeteers bring each character’s personality to stage. Storylines are derived from a variety of plot lines that range from ancient myths and legends, infused with a great deal of humor, folklore and everyday life. Singing artists further bring these expressionless puppets to life; their vocals give personality to the characters and heighten the atmosphere, creating a more unified and enchanting performance.


随着一节节肢体被注入生命,在提线的牵引下,整具木偶陡然间具有了灵性。传统木偶戏的内容多以动作性、故事性取胜的古代神话传说为主;到后来,随着木偶形象的日趋鲜活日常,情节开始渗入民间的风趣诙谐。木偶戏的演出格外注重声形合一,这些没有表情的木偶,其喜怒哀乐都只有通过艺人的演唱来表达,再以配乐作为场景气氛烘托。

While there are now no more than a dozen independent puppeteer groups left in Myanmar, it remains highly regarded as a unique art form that is heavily steeped in the country’s rich, traditional culture.


现在的缅甸,可以独立进行木偶表演的老艺人,只有十多个了。木偶戏不再仅仅是娱乐,它也是以更高的艺术形式在表现缅甸的整个传统历史文化。

Website: htweoomyanmar.com
Facebook
: ~/htweoomyanmarpuppetryhome

 

Contributor & Photographer: Chan Qu
Videographers: Chan Qu, Leon Yan


网站: htweoomyanmar.com
脸书
: ~/htweoomyanmarpuppetryhome

 

供稿人与图片摄影师: Chan Qu
视频摄影师: Chan Qu, Leon Yan

The Culture of Night Markets

People tend to have a preconceived notion of what night markets are, considering them simply as places where people can gluttonously eat and drink to their heart’s content. But in reality, that’s barely scratching the surface; there is more to night markets than meets the eye. The rich selection of local street food is definitely a big part of night market culture, but there are also vendors selling cheap clothing, print publications, vinyl records, and various household items. You can even find more peculiar services, such as palm reading and fortune telling. Although not immediately obvious, night markets are actually intrinsically linked to the daily lives of the locals and their traditions.


在多数人眼中,夜市只不过是一个吃喝闲散地儿,但事实上,又不尽其然。许多夜市除了吃喝外,还有书报杂志、影碟唱片、平价服装、日常家居等,甚至有看相、测字、算命……等等与寻常百姓日子息息相关的琐碎。

For locals, night markets are places where they can go to relax and unwind from the stress of a busy workday. They’re also convenient shopping destinations that hold a wide array of products for avid consumers. For tourists, on the other hand, night markets are places where they can go and immerse themselves in authentic local culture. A visit to the night market can give them a candid look behind the curtains of a particular city; it is a place that can provide some insight into the religious preferences, economic status, and the local traditions of the region.


对本地人而言,夜市提供了工作之余的休闲场所,这里诸多小商品的集中售卖也弥补了日间无暇购物的不便。而对外来人来讲,夜市更是与地方文化亲密接触的不二法门。所谓饮食男女,你可以通过夜市更真实的了解当地的经济状况、宗教信仰、风土人情,所有更接地气的一面在此向你铺开。

The night market in Pattaya, Thailand is as convenient as it is lively. People can drop by and buy fruits, a late night snack, or meet up with a group friends to enjoy a hot meal from one of the many street stalls. A stroll through this market reveals a near overwhelming selection of food. Every stall appears to be busy stir-frying, deep-frying, grilling, brining, or preparing dishes for the endless stream of hungry visitors. Even though it’s street food, it is obvious these stalls pay close attention to the way ingredients and seasonings mix. At one stall, I requested my dish to be prepared with a certain combination of ingredients, but the stall owner looked at me as if I was committing culinary blasphemy and dissuaded me. Rows of take-out bags can be seen hanging at many stalls, the owners of which looking to capitalize on customers on the go. The locals are fond of sweets, and a huge variety of eye-catching multicolored desserts can be found throughout the market. When you’ve finally decided on what to eat and filled your stomach, then it’s the perfect time to explore and see what the rest of the market has to offer. I browsed through old vinyl records, picked up a local newspaper, and chatted with some stall owners. The locals were friendly, humorous, and lively. Despite the language barrier, a simple smile and nod at times felt like it was all the dialogue that was needed.


在泰国芭提雅的夜市,人们可以买到蔬果、打包宵夜,或是三五人坐下热食,闲聊一二。这里沿路小吃品类繁多,少有重样的摊位,煎、炸、烤、煮、拌,各种食物做法层出不穷,所用配料也颇为讲究。我曾试图自行搭配食物与香料,却被摊主善意拒绝,似乎那样便破坏了他们的美食原则。摊主们在提供现煮的同时,也会整齐摆放出已打包扎口的分装小食袋,以方便那些没有时间坐下的顾客。当地人喜甜食,常把甜食染成极具想象力的缤纷荧光色,以此夺目。当你在大量美食中作出了选择,酒足饭饱后,散着步又可以捎张影蝶、买份报纸,与摊主唠几句家常。我在此走了几个来回,即便言语不通,也与这些热爱生活又生性幽默的们熟络了起来,彼此点头招呼不亦乐乎。

As night turned into day, the crowds from the night market began to trickle into the morning street market around the corner. Fish and meat vendors began their prep work. At the same time, many neighboring stalls have already begun hawking fresh produce. Even with the smells and steam of breakfast foods slicing through the brisk morning air, the night market around the bend is still lively, seemingly a 24-hour nonstop affair. As the morning light illuminated the streets, I took in my surroundings. A motorcycle taxi driver finishing up his night shift picks up a fresh bouquet from a flower vendor, while local monks made their way through the market, while alms bowls in hand. Charitable vendors provided them with food in exchange for prayers of good fortune. Posters and framed portraits of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, can be seen in the majority of the stalls. As I left the market, I felt like I had a deeper understanding of the local culture. I saw the people’s endless adoration for the king, their unwavering faith in the country, and the passion they had for life.


这熙熙攘攘的人群从夜市直奔早市,转角菜场的鱼摊肉铺也忙活起来,边整理着时鲜货品,边做起了买卖。街边早餐冒着腾腾热气,那外头的夜市仍旧络绎不绝,24小时都不得空,以此生生不息。刚结束一晚工作的摩的司机,也不忘在清晨的花店挑一束中意的鲜花。当地僧人在此时也托钵开始一天一次的乞食,很多摊主会分享他们的食物给僧人,并祈求平安。泰国人民非常爱戴他们的国王,在市场摊位上随处可见悬挂张贴的国王肖像。所以你会感受到这个国家的信仰,国王与人民的和谐关系,以及他们的生活热情。

A few days later I arrived in Yangon, Myanmar. The temperature was noticeably hotter than Thailand, and I relied on gulping down mouthful after mouthful of sugar cane juice to keep me refreshed and hydrated under the blistering hot sun. Strolling through Yangon in the day, the streets were already abuzz with activity and people weaving in and out of street side stalls set up by tea vendors. As night descended, the night market came to life and the streets became even more lively. I noted many similarities and differences between the Yangon market and the Pattaya night market. Like Pattaya, the street food seemed to open up the floor for lively discussions and talks amongst friends. But the dishes in Yangon were less well-presented in terms of aesthetics, and seemed to reflect the unavailability of certain ingredients in the area. The dishes here mostly rely on a variety of heavy seasoning for flavor, and the most prominent street food is wet tha dote htoe, or skewers of pork offal boiled cooked in soy sauce; the skewered pork sit in a circle around a large metal pan. Occupied plastic stools surround the stalls, and people are happily eating and dipping away.


抵达缅甸仰光后,天气更炎热了,我只顾着不停地往嘴里灌甘蔗汁。街边有不少热闹的茶铺, 但是当晚的夜市让人窥见了更多生活气。美食当前,人们必然是打开的,茶余饭后聊什么都是嘴边话。可能由于物资的相对匮乏,缅甸的食物并没有太多花里胡哨,他们喜欢用各种调味粉。这的夜市里,最多见的就是卤煮烫,主要是猪肉下水串成串摆在卤煮汤锅的四周,摊位周围有一圈凳子,食客可坐下来随意挑着签、蘸着汁儿吃。这里的夜市还有各种煎炸饼类和虫子;有拌着豆制品的凉面;有堆成山的榴莲;更有烧烤、粥品类,比白日里的街头食物要丰富得多。

The streets of Yangon were quite active as well. Crowds of men gathered and watched TV on the side of the street while drinking beers, while others seem perfectly content to just sit outside in the cool night air and people watch. The Myanmar people are mostly Buddhists, but from brief conversations with a few locals, it seemed like they were eager to learn more about foreign religions. The more outgoing locals won’t hesitate to come up to you with flirtatious offers of taking you out for milk tea in English. On the other hand, some locals are more reserved, or perhaps wary of foreigners, and tended to keep to themselves. But most people still seemed keen to interact with foreigners to try and learn more about the world outside of Myanmar.


男人们喜欢在仰光的街头巷尾聚一起,看个电视、喝点小酒,或者只是坐着看看来往的人。缅甸当地人信奉佛教,也对外来人的信仰很感兴趣。出于腼腆或者拘谨,大多数当地人并不会与外国人多话,但也有个别会上前用英文搭讪,请你喝杯奶茶。他们都很友好,也希望接触到更多外面的世界。

Night markets are a cultural phenomenon; they’re closely linked with the local economy and societal needs. If you’re looking to experience a slice of authentic culture in southeast Asia, night markets are undoubtedly a must-visit.


夜市于一定的经济条件和社会需求之上,融入了当地民生,形成了一种独特的文化现象。若是你在旅途中,不妨入乡随俗,去夜市走走,因为在那里方能尝出地方滋味、百家烟火。

Contributor & Photographer: Chan Qu


供稿人与摄影师: Chan Qu

Papa’s Time Machine

Papa’s Time Machine is a theatrical performance that just recently ended last month at Shanghai’s Daning Theatre. The play is a poetically orchestrated and uniquely fantastical project created by Chinese visual artist Maleonn. Both real people and puppets share the same stage throughout the performance. For this project, Maleonn employed techniques that are commonly seen in contemporary video art and installation art; by combining these techniques with his alternative storytelling approaches and live music, Maleonn has created an innovative and playful project that expands the notion of puppetry. He has pushed the boundaries of puppet theatre, and in the process, transformed the dying art form into a compelling and contemporary performance piece.


近期在大宁剧院上演的这部风格奇幻、充满诗意的非传统戏剧《爸爸的时光机》,是视觉艺术家马良的首次戏剧游戏。它结合了独创的“演员与木偶平行表演”的舞台表现,运用当代艺术中的装置及影像手段,配以现场音乐演奏等多元化的表现形式,彻底颠覆了观众对于木偶剧的一贯认知。

The concept for Papa’s Time Machine originated in an unlikely location – a swimming pool. One day, Maleonn’s father repeatedly asked him, “Do you know how to swim?” over and over again. Maleonn humored his father and swam every time the question was asked. His father’s declining memory was becoming more and more apparent around this time. The gradually worsening condition of his father became the very foundation of Papa’s Time Machine. In the play, the main character Makugee’s father also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Being a brilliant scientist, Makugee constructs a time machine so that his father could relive some of their happiest memories together. Every instance of time travel in the play was presented as a beautiful and nostalgic journey. The entire play seems to be an affirmation of life and memories. It imparts a sincere message about the inevitably of passing time and how people must bid farewell to one another at some point. But at the same time, saying goodbye doesn’t break the continuous nature of people’s love and affection for one another.


其实,最初创作《爸爸的时光机》的念头始于某次的泳池边,马良的父亲反复问“你会游泳吗”,而马良一次次地游给父亲看,这一来一去触发了马良对于父亲记忆退化的审视,从而诞生了现在这个故事:讲述了科学家马古几发现自己年迈父亲逐渐失去记忆,因而创造了一台时光机试图帮助父亲重拾美好回忆。剧中的每一次穿梭都是一次奇幻历程,也是对生命和记忆的再次确认,虽时光流逝不可避免,人与人之间终要告别,但这一看似哀伤的告别实则是爱与亲情的延续。

This entire play is meant to be a gift from Maleonn to his father. Maleonn’s family worked in theatre, and his parents had hopes of him becoming a theatre worker. But instead, he paved his own path and went on to pursue his personal interest in creativity and art. Over the years, Maleonn had mentioned working together with his father to create a collaborative theatrical performance several times. But as his father aged, that idea became less and less likely. In 2014, with the support of producer Wang Kaili, Maleonn began to piece together this ambitious project.


这是一部艺术家送给父亲的礼物。出生戏剧世家的马良自幼被父母期许成为一名戏剧工作者,但个人执意走了美术的创作道路。曾与家人笑谈“未来和父亲合作戏剧作品”,但这个愿望也随着父亲的衰老逐渐远去。于是马良在2014年初,在出品人王凯丽的支持下,开始了这个木偶戏剧的创作。

Having never dealt with puppets or created plays before, he worked closely with the production team to fulfill his creative vision. With his keen artistic sense and unrestrained imagination, the entire play came together in a little over two years. Maleonn and the production team created a dozen life-sized puppets; each of these elaborately designed puppets consisted of over 1,200 components to put together. The play’s four main characters are mechanical puppets: Makugee as a child and his middle-aged father, and Makugee as an adult and his elderly father. These mechanical puppets were able to perform a variety of basic movements, and to some extent, perform more complex choreographed movements. Through the team’s meticulous design and engineering, the puppets are dextrous enough to grab ahold of objects and even precisely point. The uniquely designed system they use to control each puppet is state-of-the-art when it comes to puppetry.


从未涉足舞台和木偶的马良在创作过程中,与团队共同揣摩,以敏锐的艺术感受与天马行空的想象力,耗时两年多,带领团队制作出了数十件真人等比大型木偶,每个木偶由1200多个零件组成。全剧中共设有4个主角机甲木偶,分别是小马古几与爸爸、中年马古几与老年爸爸。每个机甲木偶除了正常行走、舞蹈等肢体动作外,设计上更是细致到如手指可抓取物件、灵活指点方向等。其独创的木偶操控体系已是世界一流的操控水平。

“I’ve actually always enjoyed doing tedious and time-consuming tasks. I don’t like shortcuts, and I don’t like complacency. I admit that I’m not deep or an especially intelligent person, and I’m willing to devote my time and passion to do stupid things,” says Maleonn. “I respect those who are able to repeatedly draw tens of thousands of lines on a canvas – I think they’re better people than those who only have a concept and are unable to execute it. Some people try to give cleverly vague answers, but aren’t able to provide any concrete solutions. In my opinion, the only reason that any romance still exists in this heartless world is because of passionate fools.”


“我天生就喜欢做繁琐费力的事情,不喜欢捷径,也不喜欢安定。愿意承认自己是不深刻也不够智慧的人,也愿意付出时间和热情去做蠢事。我尊敬那些在画布上重复画一万道线的人,胜过那些只提出一个玄乎的概念。一个聪明的谜团,却舍不得给出答案的人。在我看来,这无情世界,因为有热情的蠢货,才有些浪漫。”这正是马良与整个创作团队的一份赤诚之心。

WeChat: PapasTimeMachine
Weibo
: ~/maleonn

 

Contributor: Chan Qu
Images Courtesy of Papa Puppet Cultural Development Co.


微信: PapasTimeMachine
微博
~/maleonn

 

供稿人: Chan Qu
图片由爸爸的时光机剧团提供