Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cool Czech Republic postcard with puppets Spejbl and Hurvínek

On the same week that I once again wrote about Lada Draskovic, I received a dandy Postcrossing postcard from a different Lada, a woman in the Czech Republic who likes Justin Bieber, Adele, castles, ruins, historical novels and books about vampires.

She writes of "the most famous Czech wooden puppets" — Spejbl and Hurvínek — who were created, per Lada, in 1919 (Spejbl) and 1926 (Hurvínek). They were dreamed up by teacher Josef Skupa, who toured widely with them, manipulating both puppets and providing both voices. According to the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts (which is easily one of the grooviest encyclopedias ever):
"Spejbl was sculpted by wood carver Karel Nosek in 1920 following Skupa’s design. Conceived in the Dadaist spirit, Spejbl is dressed in a tuxedo with tails, snow-white gloves and wooden shoes; in contrast, the character is bald-headed, with large ears and protruding eyes. This opposition between different social symbols is also expressed in the personality of the puppet character: a simple man but clumsy, opinionated but mired in its contradictions, and torn between his social ambitions and his limited capabilities. The Hurvínek puppet was carved in 1926 by Gustav Nosek. His appearance – peculiar movable eyes, a tuft of dishevelled hair, dressed in short pants held up by suspenders – gave Hurvínek the appearance of a rascally suburban street urchin."
You can learn more about the puppets at this English-language website.

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