Puppet theatre as we know it today developed in Sicily at the end of the 18th century, with the Pupi in paggio, unarmed puppets representing Sicilian stories; of these works, only the farces that are still performed today have survived. The Sicilian puppet is nothing more than an evolution of the puppet artfully embellished to play characters such as the Paladins of France, protagonists with their shining armour of the Opera dei Pupi.
The creation begins with modelling the face in clay and then, through a number of working stages, obtaining a papier-mâché mask to be placed on a wooden base. Once the pieces that make up the pine and beech framework have been cut out, they are carved and shaped. The metals used for reinforcement are copper, brass and nickel silver. A ‘template’, i.e. an outline drawn on the metal, is made for each individual part. The cut piece is chiselled or embossed according to techniques handed down from our ancestors. Once the armour is finished, the seamstress sews the clothes and at the same time all the parts that need pigment are painted. The final assembly of all the pieces that make up a Pupo takes about a day, while the creation of a whole Pupo can take up to a month.