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Puppet Master | Li Tian-lu

  • Publish Date:2016-10-12
Puppet Master | Li Tian-lu

Did You Know That …?

  • Master puppeteer Li Tian-lu (李天祿) was a lifelong collector of all things related to Taiwanese glove puppetry, from expressive ceramic heads painted over two hundred years ago to wooden puppets carved by the late Taiwanese craftsman Hsu Hsi-sheng (徐析森).

  • Four generations of direct descent in Li's family line share four different surnames - his grandfather was Ho (何), his father was Hsu (許), and his eldest son carries the surname Chen (陳).

  • This is because his father was adopted by a family surnamed Hsu to replace a dead heir, and Hsu himself later married into a family surnamed Li. The puppet master then married into a family surnamed Chen at the age of 20, giving rise to four children - two of whom are surnamed Chen while the other two carry the name Li forward.

Click here for more information on the late master or check out some of his popular puppetry plays below.


Wu Song Slays the Tiger (武松打虎)" is a famous anecdote taken from the classic Chinese novel Water Margin (水滸傳), in which our titular hero beats a man-eating tiger to death with his bare fists.


Wu Song eventually ascends to heaven and resumes his rank as 14th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan Heroes.


"Trial of the Stone (判官審石頭)" tells of how a town judge puts a large stone on trial for stealing the money of a fried breakstick maker's son, and actually apprehends the correct thief.


The trial of the stone was staged to attract villagers to come, thus allowing the judge to identify the thief by the traces of oil on his coins.


Li is survived by his eldest son, Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌), who took on his mother’s family name when Li married into the Chen clan.