Hand Puppet Item Number: 3352/16 from the MOA: University of British Columbia


Calungo hand puppet of a 'Casimiro Coco' character. Head and hands are carved from wood and painted. He has black skin, glass eyes with sparkles, orange wool hair and beard, red lips and eyebrows, metal teeth and prominent white eyelashes. His jaw is hinged, and is operated by a control wire under his chin. He wears a basketry hat, with the rim wrapped with light blue ribbon. His fabric body / tunic is sky blue with large pink flowers and green leaves, with a cutout floral pattern within. The fabric is adhered to the hands and head. Operated by inserting a hand inside the body of the puppet to control its head and movements.

History Of Use

The puppet represents a character from a form of popular puppet theatre, found in northeastern Brazil, called mamulengo. This type of theatre is prevalent in disenfranchised communities with ancestral ties to colonized Indigenous peoples and uprooted, enslaved Africans. Mamulengo performances are entertaining events that can last all night long, with puppeteers (mamulengueiros) using 70 to 100 puppets in one staging. The stages are pop-up stands (empanadas), made of brightly coloured, floral-printed cloth. The shows consist of short sequences (passagens), or skits from popular stories that expose the inequalities and dramas of everyday life, profiling stock characters such as rich landowners and peasant labourers. The whole is spun together with humour, satire, lively music, and audience commentary.