String Puppet Item Number: 3351/2 a-f from the MOA: University of British Columbia


Opera dei Pupi puppet of the character named Orlando (Charlemagne’s nephew Roland). Three-dimensional marionette carved of wood (part a) with detachable head (part b) mounted on a long, hooked metal rod. He has a small dark brown moustache and brown hair. He wears a shiny red tunic and matching cape, adorned with gold applique and fringe. He wears full body armour with a helmet that has a visor, adorned with an eagle on top, and a train of bright red feathers. The left wrist has a length of brown cord tied to it, which also attaches a small circular gold shield, with an eagle circled by eight small flowers, to the forearm. The right hand is clenched in a fist, which a small silver-coloured metal sword with a straight blade (parts c-e) is inserted through. The threaded end of blade also inserts through the eye of one end of a long metal rod (part f) with an eye hook on each end. There is a metal band across the bottom of each heel. The body is jointed at the elbows, shoulders, and hips – with limbs held together by fabric underneath his outfit.

History Of Use

Puppet (Opera dei Pupi) representing the character Orlando. Opera dei Pupi is an internationally recognized form of marionette theatre from Sicily. Originating in the early 1800s, Opera dei Pupi is based on medieval romances and epic stories of King Carlo Magno (Charlemagne, 742-814 CE) and his Christian knights, who defended Europe against pagan and Islamic forces. The plays involve pomp and ceremony, unrequited love, violent battles and the death of puppets, as glinting swords clash, shining armour rings, bodies split and heads tumble. One example of a scene on stage is Orlando Furioso, which is based on the Italian epic poem by Ludovico Aristo, published in 1516. It shows King Carlo Magno calling forth his faithful knights, including the brave female knight, Bradamante, in preparation for battle. One at a time, he calls their names and sings their praises. On the edge of the scene lurks the villainous Agricane, King of Mongolia, who has captured Princess Angelica, whom Orlando loves.