Iranian Academy of Arts cuddling national puppets

July 26, 2010 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- The great exhibition of Iranian puppets opened Saturday at the Iranian Academy of Arts, revealing a part of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Numerous officials and guests took part in the opening ceremony where Iranian national identity is being showcased through language suitable for children on the side section of 13th Mobarak International Puppet Theater Festival now underway in Tehran.
President of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette) Dadi Pudumjee from India, Director of the Iranian Academy of Arts (IAA), Ali Mo’allem Damghani, Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs Hamid Shahabadi, and Director of the Center for Dramatic Arts, Hossein Parsaii were among the participating guests.
Secretary of the festival Ardeshir Salehpur was first to speak greeting the guests, and saying that the exhibit is hosting about 700 different puppets and marionettes.
“Different types of Iranian puppets including those used in Tazieh (passion play), Mobarak, the main character of most of the Keimeh Shab-Bazi shows (Persian traditional puppet show), and opera puppets are on display. Also included are masks worn by actors during Tazieh performances, some of which are on loan from Shiraz.
“If we assume that 1000 puppets were made during each edition of the 12 previous festivals, we must have about 12,000 puppets by now, but unfortunately we don’t possess this many puppets since some have been lost with the passage of time,” he explained.
Salehpur expressed hope that the exhibit would turn into a permanent museum of Iranian puppets in the future.
UNIMA President Pudumjee also spoke briefly about the collaboration of Iran with UNIMA and said, “Iran has the highest number of members in UNIMA among the 64 member countries. I believe art does not belong to one particular country, but is a concept for all humanity.”
“We may look at the puppets as lifeless creatures but I believe that they are much more this. The puppets should live and act, and not merely be on display in museum showcases,” he remarked.
Shahabadi, the final speaker, expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the exhibit and said, “Adults need puppet performances more than children since this gives them a chance to search for their inner child.”
The exhibit is taking place from July 24 to August 4 at the venue of the academy located on Mozaffar St., Taleqani Avenue, near Felestin Square.
Photo: An Iranian woman with her daughter visit the exhibition of Iranian puppets at the Iranian Academy of Arts on July 24, 2010. (Mehr/Babak Borzoyeh)