Different Styles of Puppets

Updated March 23, 2017

Puppets have for centuries provided entertainment for children and adults alike. A surprisingly versatile medium, puppetry can often be used to express a wide range of human emotions. This centuries-old art form is practised in many regions of the world, using different styles of puppets.


The marionette is one of the oldest types of puppet, and it is what most of use think of when we think of puppets. These puppets are articulated, often with many joints and other controls. Strings or wires are attached to the joints. The puppeteer stands above the stage and operates these stings to control the movements of the puppet.

Hand or Glove Puppet

Another very old type of puppet is the hand or glove puppet. Hand puppets of this type are often operated from below, inside a booth. European Punch and Judy shows are an example of this type or puppetry. A sock puppet is a basic version of a hand puppet, and it is sometimes used in such a way as to be chatting with the puppeteer.

Human Arm Puppet Puppet

A human arm puppet operated by two people. One person operates the body and head of the puppet, while another places his hand inside the sleeve of the puppet to operate the arm and hands. This type of puppetry requires a high level of suspension of disbelief on the part of the members of the audience, because they can see the two operators of the puppet during the performance.

Rod Puppets

Rod puppets are large puppets with a central rod attached to the head and two rods attached to the hands. The puppeteer can operate the puppet from below, moving the hand rods to make gestures, and the central rod to raise or rotate the head.

Shadow Puppets

Shadow puppets are puppets that are placed between a light source and a thin screen, through which the audience can watch the performance on the other side. This type of puppetry is very popular in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia. The topics are often religious or mythological in nature.

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About the Author

Carol Adams has been writing since 2009. She writes about graphics, 3D and video software for various websites. Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a Master of Arts in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.