A Case for Aung’s Marionette Puppet Show: Inle Lake

If you are going to Myanmar, you are likely going to go to Inle Lake. While you are there, you will see many wonderful things, but few can compare with Aung’s Marionette Puppet Show (daily shows 7:00 & 8:30 PM, 30 mins in duration), perhaps the most authentic Burmese culturally artistic experience you will have in the whole country. His show is charming, clever, and fun. To get there, ask around; its a few streets East of The Golden Kite Restaurant.

There are so many puppet shows all over Myanmar, so why Aung? Well, first of all, he comes from a family with a long tradition in the art. His father, his grandfather, and his grandfather’s father were all puppeteers, licensed by the state to carry on the important cultural tradition. Aung is no different; he got his license in 1985, and has been doing puppet shows for a living ever since. In fact, he is one of only 8 remaining licensed puppeteers left in the country. Why so few puppeteers? Well, the art of Burmese traditional storytelling with marionettes is a fine art indeed. Mastering it is a long process, and can be expensive, as the only place to get licensed is Yangon. It is much cheaper to make some puppets, throw on some music, and move them around for some tourists. Many hotels and restaurants do so. Tourists don’t know any better, right? Well you do!

Another reason to support Aung is that he runs a local family business in Nyaung Shwe (a town near Inle Lake). His backdrops are made by his brother, and his puppets are made by his uncle.

All of the money he makes off the show, he uses to support his family.

The third reason to give Aung your business is the price. You can enjoy his 30 minute show for only 3000 Kyat (about $3US), which is a steal compared to what you’d pay for a traditional show in Yangon ($15+). His ticket price also includes free tea!

Finally, you should support Aung because he’s a super nice guy. When we went to his show, he spent an hour with us afterwards answering our questions, telling us cool stories, and giving us a lesson on how to use our very own marionette (we bought an elephant puppet, made by his uncle; it is beautiful!). Aung is so happy to share his culture, his experience, and his life with anyone who walks in his door. If you are traveling to Myanmar. Go! Support Aung’s local business, help preserve a traditional artform, and be amazed. We were.

PS: Aung doesn’t have a website, an e-mail, or any internet access at all, so please spread the word.

PPS: If you go to see him, tell him you saw his info here, and that Steve from Canada says hi!

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~ by zecucumber on June 17, 2013.

4 Responses to “A Case for Aung’s Marionette Puppet Show: Inle Lake”

  1. Yes! I was there early July 2013. Agree!!…it’s a must-see. Aung has absolute passion for his art and history. A definite throw-back to authentic art and times.

  2. […] check out this blog article for more information on Aung’s art and a convincing argument for why you shouldn’t miss […]

  3. Hi Steve, I saw Aung last year and he was fantastic! I loved seeing your video of him at work – took me straight back. I am actually writing some coursework on Burmese traditional puppetry for my Masters at the moment and I’d like to reference this post in my bibliography since it was a good refresher to my own experience. Would you mind if I ask your full name so that I can put you in properly? Many thanks.

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