The story begins 400 years the past, when a demon warlord named Mo Kuei threatens the people to the extent that he will destroy all of Wulin, which had been the forest of residence for the warriors of Wulin. The great sage, Su Huan-jen has summoned three heroes from different kung fu schools to help him avert this disaster. Together, the three heroes wait in ambush as Mo Kuei gathers his spiritual energy on the Tianji mountain peak.. The story continues onward in which Lord Jian almost becomes sealed by certain protectors of Wulin. Many conflicts follow this in which Jian loses all of his powers and lusts to find the Sacred Stone to regain his powers.
The story is played on a miniature stage, dressed in traditional Chinese gowns, they move to a drum beat, speaking in disguised human tones, they fight , fly , love , hate , live and die bringing to life Chinese historical plays.
This just one of the stories played in Taiwanese Glove-Puppet Theater. Budaixi is a unique and intrinsic element of Taiwanese culture. It was brought by settlers in 17th century from it’s place of origin, Fujian province and over time developed in very specific art which today ,can be found only on Taiwan .
Origin of the can be traced 300 years ago in the past .During the Ming dynasty, a v named Liang Bing-lin from Fujian province went to the capital to take an exam. During his travels, he dreamed about a god telling him that he already had ‘fame’
inhis ‘palms’; therefore, he thought that he might have been placed on top of the exam. He didn’t pass the test to enter the ranks of government. He was very upset, but he had no choice but to return to his hometown . He became a storyteller , and his sarcastic stories were aimed against government and politics . The content of his stories upset the government and he had to change the content of his stories. He did that , and not only that , he invented completely new way of theater which soon became very popular .
Not long after Budaixi was brought to life, early Taiwanese settlers brought it to the island where it changed and adapted becoming the art with longest lasting popularity of all Taiwanese arts.
The hand puppet play in Taiwan used to find its audiences in street or temple performances on the miniature outdoor stage. In the beginning it was a one man show , but gradually changed into a full theater with expert teams of performers. Musicians are in the back stage usually playing drums, flute, and strings served. One of two manipulators served as protagonist and singer on the main stage .
For over 300 years Budaixi was one of the most popular form of public art in Taiwan. The repertoire is mostly made of “martial” operas in which the stories were usually based on historical novels , stories of famous crimes and purely martial arts novels .
Today , it is not easy to find Budaixi on the streets of Taiwan although it can be found sporadically . Like many old arts, this one is disappearing along with older generations of people who were main public for this kind of theater .
Although it is disappearing from the streets , glove puppet theater found new life on TV where it became extremely popular among younger generations . Not only that , but performance is changed and adapted to the new environment extremely well . Heroes and villains now can shoot laser beams from their eyes , fly on a real clouds of smoke , have “real” magic weapons and many other things .Heroes of past are mighty and have powers equal to Marvel's superheroes , and that is one of the reasons of the popularity of
Budaixi among young population .
Budaixi among young population .