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Although Brazil’s popular Mamulengo hand-puppet tradition is often considered to have primarily European roots, Brochado argues that “the primary source of the Mamulengo lies with African slaves.” Citing sources including puppeteers and folklorists explaining the origins of Mamulengo in northeast Brazil, Brochado argues for the African roots of the form, citing the relation of Mamulengo performance to Afro-Brazilian cult rituals; the commonality of often-comic sexual content in Mamulengo and in Yoruba puppetry of Nigeria and Benin; as well as the similar mechanics of puppets from both traditions which display work activities. She concludes that “even if African puppets were not physically taken to Brazil as material objects, or as a particular form of popular puppetry, they nevertheless were kept alive in slaves’ memories.”

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puppetry, performing objects, African American culture


African American Studies | Africana Studies | Arts and Humanities | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies

African Puppetry and Brazilian Mamulengo: Possible Links between Symbolic and Material Representations