Figure 1 Publishing

Art + Design

Bodies of Enchantment

Puppets from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas

Nicola Levell. In collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Awarded 2021 Michael Ames Prize for Innovative Museum Anthropology

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As energy flows from the puppeteer into their puppet—through veins and wires, flesh and wood, muscles and silicone—intimacy dissolves boundaries, enchantment begins, and stories unfold.

Book Description

For millennia, puppets have enthralled audiences with their unique charm, not just telling stories but enacting history, sharing knowledge, and transmitting cultural practices. In this dazzling and immersive volume based on an award-winning exhibition, puppetry from all corners of the globe is shared in striking photographs alongside texts from ten scholars and puppeteers. The contributors highlight still-vital traditional puppetry practices, as well as modern adaptations of the form: exquisite leather shadow puppets depict ancient Indian epics in modern-day Indonesia; Taiwan’s long-running Pili glove puppetry show thrives in the digital era; and Indigenous filmmaker Amanda Strong uses stop-motion animation to create entrancing new realms.

Bodies of Enchantment features over 150 photographs among chapters by ten contributors: Nicola Levell offers a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition and describes the museum’s role as an imaginarium; Anthony Alan Shelton reflects on the alluring uncanniness of puppets; Annie Katsura Rollins explores Chinese shadow puppetry; Sutrisno Setya Hartana introduces us to Indonesian wayang; Jo Ann Cavallo unpacks the archetypes of Sicilian opera dei pupi; Mary Jo Arnoldi encounters the Sogobò masquerade in Malí; Izabela Brochado shows the continued vibrancy of mamulengo in Brazil; Kathy Foley and Catherine Ries uncover the significance of clothing in Javanese wayang golak cepak; and Jill Baird shares the history of puppetry at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology.



  • Hardcover
  • 10 × 12 inches
  • 256 pages
  • 978-1-77327-154-5
  • $60 CAD / $50 USD
  • October 2021