This handmade hand puppet features the famous female military officer, Mu Guiying.
Mu Guiying lived during the warring period of the Northern Song Dynasty (960~1127). Her father, originally an imperial official, was falsely accused by corrupt officials and forced to flee to a mountain. There he established his own Robin Hood-style band of outlaws that robbed the rich to give to the poor. Having grown up in her fathers mountain fortress, Mu Guiying mastered military skills and became a resolute and courageous character.
Mu Guiying helped defeat the invading Liao army, and also triumphed in several military expeditions against them. On one occasion she led her army in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, but had to stop in order to give birth. Upon getting wind of this, the enemy stopped its retreat and prepared for a counter-attack. On the third day after giving birth, Mu Guiying faced the Liao army in her military uniform. Upon seeing her, the Liao general thought the rumor he had heard was part of Mu Guiyings strategy to decoy him, and retreated.
Zhangzhou city in Fujian province, China, is famous for its hand puppets. The traditional puppets feature hand carved head and hand sewed costumes. The plays mostly come from traditional operas and folk lores. The hand puppet show from Zhangzhou can trace back to Song Dynasty (908 ~ 1279). Zhangzhou puppet has been selected to be one of the non-material and verbal heritage folk art in China.