Indian Banana Leaf PuppetsOctober 5, 2012 at 11:49 am | Posted in crafts, homeschool, Postcrossing, printable, thrifty projects | Leave a comment
Tags: articulated puppet, banana leaf puppet, indian craft, kids craft India
This week we are learning about India in the home school co-op that I participate in. Since I am teaching that class, I went to postcrossing.com and wrote to someone in each country we will be “visiting” to see if we could exchange postcards. As postcrossing is a postcard exchange site almost everyone I contacted was happy to exchange cards, and the member in India exchanged souvenirs as well as postcards. One of the souvenirs was a set of banana leaf puppets. I looked for information about banana leaf puppets online (I even used google translate to search in Hindi and Urdu) and was absolutely amazed that I couldn’t find anything.
Banana leaves are plentiful in India, and are used in cooking and serving food, especially in the southern region. (I baked chicken in banana leaves a few years ago, and really liked the distinct flavor.) Banana leaves are used to make pictures, and banana plant fiber is used in making several types of things. Lacking information, I am assuming that an inexpensive and plentiful material, like a banana leaf, would be used to make things for kids in India the same way that we make clothespin dolls and popsicle stick crafts in America.
My son, who is 7, was fascinated with the puppets – just a little twist makes the arms and legs jump. I scanned one of the puppets, and used it as a template to make our own version out of card stock. If you have access to a banana plant you could probably dry a leaf and use that instead of paper.
You will also need 8 brads, a small hole punch, a bamboo skewer, tape, stuff to color with, and a glue stick. It took an hour to make the puppet with two sided limbs, it took half an hour to make the puppet with single limbs, and I think it will probably take about 15 minutes to make the puppet that doesn’t require any coloring. I like the heavier feel the second layers of card stock adds, but if you are just making a throw away craft I wouldn’t bother with it since both versions work equally well. The simplest, cheapest option would be to print the template with one set of limbs onto colored card stock so the puppet will look finished with minimal decorating and minimal printer ink.
To start with cut the body out. If you want it to be something without pointed ears just cut them off. I like to color on the backside of things so the lines don’t show.
Color and cut out the limbs. If you are making the version with double sided limbs, you will need to flip the second piece over to color the backsides. You will also need to glue the top portion of each part together, leaving the bottom third unattached.
Next use a small hole punch where indicated by each “x” on the limbs, and assemble leaving the brads a little loose to allow free movement.
If you are making the double sided version, you will need to layer the limbs by sliding the top portion in between the bottom portion that was left open. In this case a picture is worth a thousand words, I don’t think I can accurately describe how that works.
Fold the body in half and punch the spots marked with each “x” going through both layers at once so the holes line up. Trim or break the end off of your skewer (I rubbed mine on the driveway for a few seconds to file the end off,) and tape it to the center of your puppet’s body. Slide the arms and legs in (like shown in the previous photo,) and leave the brads a little loose to allow free movement.
Twist the skewer for hours of fun watching the puppets jump and dance. And, just in case you missed the earlier link, here it is again: [Indian Banana Leaf Puppet Template]