19 Oct Resurrecting the Potehi Puppets
The glove puppet theatre, Potehi, was originated from Quanzhou, Fujian province of China back in the 13th Century. Potehi is proudly regarded as a traditional art form which shares themes and characters with Chinese opera. Amongst many shows, The Love Story of Warrior Malek and Journey to the West are the more renown ones.
In 1940s, Potehi was a very popular form of entertainment at religious festivities and funerals all over the state. In this era, however, Potehi is more commonly perform on occasions like the birthday of the deities and the Hungry Ghost Festival.
In the days of glory, Penang comprises 10 Potehi troupes which embodies a total of 12 performers. Due to the limitation of talents nowadays, 4 troupes remain constituting a total of only 5 performers. The final 4 troupes left standing in Penang are known as Beng Geok Hong, Sin Kim Hong, Guat Poh Hong and Sing Hong Eng.
Although the challenge of insufficient bookings has yet to arise, given the demand of Potehi performances still prevails during mandatory seasons. Nonetheless, the dwindling number of audience has threatened the survival of the art of Potehi which requires tremendous support from spectators to revive this sacred traditional art form.
It is believed that the decline of interest among the youths undertaking this traditional art form is due to the sparsity of income levels in conjunction with the length of working hours required. Despite the lack of interest, the pioneer troupes of Potehi yearn to pass down their techniques and skills to potentials who have the passion and desire to spread the legacy of Potehi.
Potehi is not just a traditional art form, but it is our way of life, our roots.
Get a copy of Potehi today at Gerak Budaya Bookshop:
78, Jalan Masjid Capitan Keling,
10200 George Town,
Likewise, you may shop online at http://gerakbudayapenang.com/.