Uzbek puppetry

Puppetry in Uzbekistan

The dools or puppets in Uzbekistan are more than a simple toy for children. From the old days, theatrical performances of wandering puppeteers – masquerades have been one of the most famous and favorite entertainments of rural as well as urban residents. Uzbek puppetry is believed to be a traditional art genre, which evolved in the form of an ancient traditional theatre of people.

The main point of puppetry is that the primary heroes are puppets and an actor, who manipulates them hiding behind the scene. The puppet show, which combined traditional as well as contemporary ideas, was staged together with folk pantomime dances, such as “Ot oyin” (“The game on wooden horse”), “Sherboz” (“The tamer of tiger”), under the accompaniment of music (surnay, karnay and naghora or surnay and doira).

Dolls in Uzbekistan were made of wood, ceramics, straw, and reeds. Different types of dolls remained to our time such as glove dolls, puppet dolls. They are made of painted papier-mache, wood, clay. Costumes for dolls are sewn from textiles made in the national style. The craftsmen have their traditional technology for cutting clothes and embroidery.


The puppet doll was widely known in ancient times within modern Uzbekistan. It is believed that the puppet entered Central Asia with the troops of Alexander the Great (IV century BC). However, due to the arrival of Islam to the region, the puppetry was neglected. Although, later during the Samanids era, in the 9th century, the educated Samanid rulers promoted the arts, literature, and science. The Samanids restored many ancient traditions, including the puppet theatre. The greatest popularity of puppetry occurred during Timurid’s time 14th -16th century. The residents loved bright and lively performances, that included a deep, ridiculed hard life of ordinary people. 

Puppet Theatres in Uzbekistan

Today, the Uzbek national doll is the key to understanding the unique culture and history of the country. Now there are several puppet theaters in Uzbekistan: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva. Today, they are still functioning and one can see the unique performances based on the works of Uzbek writers and modern staging. 

In 1939 the Republican Puppet Theater in Tashkent opens its doors, which continues to operate to this day. Various types of dolls have survived to this day: glove dolls, puppet dolls, reed and riding dolls. 

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