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Hand Puppets

Bu Dai Xi

Hand puppet have been called Hand drama. The origin of Hand puppet can be traced to four centuries ago, when Bin-Lin Liang of Quan-Zhou, Fujian made modifications to traditional puppets. Hand puppet came to Taiwan from Quan-Zhou and Zhang-Zhou two centuries ago and became form of early Taiwanese drama and a popular form of folk entertainment.

The performances of traditional Hand puppet shows include front stage and back stage. Two front stage staff are responsible for operating the puppets and the narrations. The back stage staff number at least four are responsible for playing musical instruments. The plays were adaptations from classical novels on history, mythology, and folk heroes. The plays were entertaining and educational.

“I Wan Jan” was established in 1931. The founder, Li Tien-lu used the name “I Wan Jan, because he wanted the public know that the hand puppet was as vivid as real man. Li Tien-lu’s performance blended in rich Beijing Opera elements.

In 1953, Li Tien-lu led “I Wan Jan” to participate in national hand puppet show contest; they have won championship of the northern area for more than twenty consecutive years. At the end of 1971, “I Wan Jan” began to perform around the world on invitation; their tracks extended all over Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. They successively propagated Taiwan’s traditional hand puppet art and became an internationally noted troupe. At the same time, Li Tien-lu led all masters before and behind the curtain to invest in the hand puppet show inheritance works in Jeu-Guang Elementary School in Banciao, creating a new trend of learning hand puppet show artistry in campus and continuously rooting the art of traditional hand puppet. 

Li Tien-lu died in 1998. His second son, Li Chuang-tsain succeeded to be the curator. Besides continuing his father’s unfinished inheritance works, he never neglected any kinds of preserving, rooting, and innovating works. Li Chuang-tsain died in 2009; his wife, Li-Tsai Su-Chen, succeeds to be the curator and leads the fourth generation young students to continuously make progress in passing on hand puppet art.




Lee Ten-Lu was born on November 23(Lunar Year)


I Wan Jan Puppet Theatre” was founded. 


“The tale of the Three Kingdoms” was performed on TTV.


French Students Jean-Luc Penso and Catherine LaRue came to Taiwan to study Chang Chung. His performance technique with Master Lee. In1978 Penso ans  Larue founded the Syau Wan Jan Troupe 


I wan Jan Performed in the 5th Annual Hong Kong Arts Festival at the invitation of Hong Kong Cultural Center.


Wan Jan became a non-Profit performing group.

Lee Tien-Lu went to France at the invitation of the French Ministry of culture to teach puppetry techniques.


Japanese puppeteer Yoshiko came to Taiwan to study Chang Chung His puppetry technique , organizing the I wan Jan troupe on her return to Japan. 

American Student Margaret Moody came to Taiwan to study puppet techniques. She organized the Ru Wan Jan Puppet Troupe after her return to U.S.A in 1984.


Japanese Publisher published “Hand Puppet in Taiwan Lee Ten-Lu’s Story.”


I Wan Jan performed at the 1984 UNIMA convention in Seoul, Korea .

Student of the Chinese Culture University’s Folk Drama Research Club began studying puppet technique with I Wan Jan. The students studied marionette techniques as well and organized the Chung Wan Jan Puppetry troupe

Received the Artistic Distinction Award in the First Folk Arts Festival, sponsored by the Taipei Han Sheng International Lions Club. 

Students from Banchau’s Chu-Kuang Elementary School, under the leadership Tuan-Chen, began to study Chang Chung Hsi with I Wan Jan. They founded the Wei Wan Jan Children’s Traditional Puppet Troupe .

Lee Ten-Lu received the First National Heritage Award 

Performed in Eda, Japan at the invitation of Mayor, and performed in Yokohama and several other cities in August.

In October the troupe began a month-long U.S performance tour, including Arkansas, New York, and Chicago.

Exhibited Puppets and Stage properties at the request of the National History Museum.

Began to teach at the Ping Tuan Elementary School, and students and Teachers organized the Chau Wan Jan Puppet Troupe.


Performance tour of Italy, arranged by Mostra International de Nuevo Cinema in June. They were awarded by Council of Culture Planning and Development and Government Information Office of R.O.C.when they returned.       

Participated in the International Puppetry Festival Charieville, France and received an “Outstanding Artist Award” They were also awarded by the commission on overseas Chinese Affairs after returning to Taiwan.


In July Lee Ten-Lu won the price of “Outstanding National Artist “from the Ministry of Education of R.O.C.

In October, Lee Ten-Lu was awarded the National Dissmination Prize” from the government information Office of R.O.C  


In November, Lee accepted an invitation from Holland to attend “the Puppet Show Festival” and performed in Germany, France, Italy, Austria ,Morocco.


Lee Ten Lu went to United States to receive the Award of “Lifelong Artistic   Accomplishment” in January.

Performed in New York Cultural Center, New York.      


In August Lee Ten Lu accepted an invitation to perform in Hong Kong.

Performance tour in Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, U.S.A 


Performance tour in the U.S.A , including New York, Boston and Huston.


Participated in the “Brussel Art Festival” in Belgium and received an invitation from UNIMA of England to perform in England.


Participated in the “Portugal Art Festival” in August. 

Participated in the “Japan Asia Airways 20th Anniversary” In October

Performance tour on Mainland China, and participate in the Fukien and Taiwan Art Festival” In November.

Received an award from the French Government


“Lee Ten-Lu Hand Puppet Historical Museum” opened on December 31


Performance tour in United States. 

“Lee Ten Lu Hand Puppet Foundation” was founded.


Participated in the “Festival d’ Avignon” in France in July

Lee Ten Lu passed away in San-Chih in August.  

Performed in New York and France Cultural Center in October


I Wan Jan Won the first Place of Taipei Folk Drama Competition; performance tour in Taipei County from March to May. 

Performed at the 8th“International Library Convention” Tokyo, Japan in August.

Participated in the 9th “International Puppet Festival” in Palestine, In October.


I Wan Jan was Invited to Switzerland to perform in “World Health Organization”  in May.

Performance tour nationwide in June 

Participated in the 12th “marionnettees universelles 2000” in charleville-mézières in September.

I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the 3rd “QuanZhou International Puppet Festival” in October. 

Performed in “cité de la musique” with Theatre Du Petit Mirror in Pairs, France.


Performed in the “New Jersey International Festival” and Taipei Economic   and Culture Office In New York in March.

Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of I Wan Jan Puppet Troupe; hold the “International Puppet Festival In Taiwan” in August.

On Dec 30th,Celebrating the 5th anniversary of Lee Ten Lu Hand Puppet Historical Museum.


In Feb, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the Bangkok, Thailand. “The Legend of The Dragon” in Chinese New Year. 

Pao-An Temple invited I Wan Jan to perform in “Pao-An Cultural Festival” in April. 

National Center of Traditional Arts invited I Wan Jan to perform in the “Traditional Puppet Festival” in July.


In Jul, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the  “Festival Internacional De Titeres Rosete Aranda” in Tlaxcala,Mexico.


In Jul, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the  “Festival Internacional De Titeres Rosete Aranda” in Tlaxcala,Mexico.

In Oct, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the AIPEI ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL OFFICE IN NEW YORK.


In Aug, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the  “Iida Puppet Festa” in Nagano,Japan.


In Oct, I Wan Jan was invited to perform in the  “Festival Internacional De Titeres Rosete Aranda” in Tlaxcala,Mexico.


In May, I Wan Jan was invited to perform at NewYork、Houston、Michigan.


In Oct, I Wan Jan was invited to perform& in “Tang West Market Museum” in X,ian,China.


In July, I Wan Jan was invited to perform at NewYork、Boston、Michigan.

Get in touch

No.26 Zhi-Po Rd. Shan-Zi Dist. New Taipei City. Taiwan R.O.C

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