Moorish Hand Puppet

Moorish Hand Puppet

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Description (Brief)
This hand puppet was created by Bil Baird between 1926-1927 for Miquel Varell. This hand carved and painted wooden figure with its dark Moorish features sports a red and black plaid costume with a beaded collar and a red fez. The puppet has no body and his hands are made of cloth. The face, with its exaggerated facial features, is vibrantly painted and is a wonderful example of Baird's early work.
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Miquel Varell immigrated to the United States after World War I in search of a better life. Despite a lack of any formal training in the theater, Varell's lifelong love of puppetry inspired him to establish a puppet company based on a European style Grand Guignol, or Punch and Judy, traveling show. But Varell needed someone to create the puppets based on his own specifications. He approached Tony Sarg, his friend and well known puppeteer, to find someone who could create the puppets according to his specifications. Sarg recommended his young apprentice, Bil Baird, to create the puppets for Varell's theater.
Using the puppets provided by Baird, Varell constructed his own portable theater, including stage sets and backgrounds, and performed at schools, clubs, and children's parties. Sadly, his career was short lived. The European style of puppetry, based on expression and moment, was replaced with talking puppets, and Varell spoke only broken English.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
Puppet
Date made
1927 - 1928
maker
Baird, Bil
user
Varell, Miquel V.
maker
Baird, Bill
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Associated Place
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
paint (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 54 cm x 34 cm; 21 1/4 in x 13 3/8 in
ID Number
1993.0168.08
accession number
1993.0168
catalog number
1993.0168.08
Credit Line
Gift of Lia V. Dingfelder
subject
Puppetry
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Puppets
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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