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Pupazzi: Glove puppets and marionettes in the Castello dei Burattini Museo Giordano Ferrari

Edited by John McCormick and Paolo Parmiggiani, with additional contributions by Cesare Bertozzi, Patrizio Dall’Argine, Daniela Ferrari, Giordano Ferrari jr, Maura Ferrari and Marta Siri. English translation by John McCormick

Review by Martin MacGilp

The puppet museum of the Castello dei Burattini-Museo Giordano Ferrari opened in 2002, and presents the results of many years of diligent collecting and research by the performing puppeteer Giordano Ferrari. Giordano’s father, Italo Ferrari, was born around 1877 near Parma in the north of Italy. His parents’ plans for his career as a shoemaker did not appeal to Italo, who was attracted and inspired by the fine puppetry performances attended in the area. In particular there were a number of important glove puppet performers such as Arturo and Francesco Campogalliani. He began to perform by his mid-teens, and by the 1920s had become successful. His son Giordano was born in 1905, and he became very involved with the family company as performer, puppet maker, and in character development. In his enthusiastic collecting of puppets, playbills, scripts, scenery and information about many other puppet companies and performers, Giordano also had the idea for a puppet museum.

In eight chapters, the background to the family’s involvement with puppets, and the story behind the various collections is described. Included are chapters on the designing of costumes for puppets; scripts; the experience of a puppeteer working in the museum; aspects of etymology and the terminology of puppets, ie pupazzo, fantocci, burattino, marionetta, is discussed. The book’s two closing chapters, dealing separately with glove puppets, then marionettes, covers the various specific technicalities of construction requirements and variables (some of them regional), and refers to some of the most notable performers. In addition, these final two chapters each contain twenty-five of the finest examples of glove puppets and marionettes in the Collection, with individual construction details. A number of x-ray photographs show that quite a number of staples and tacks could be used over the years in the figures, either at the time of the original construction, or as repairs and alterations became required. In the chapter specifically on marionettes, there is consideration on the idea of replacing the figure with a stiff wire or rod to the head, with that of the all-string figure. The influence of the renowned Holden company in this and other respects is also discussed.

This is a beautifully produced and presented book, with many colour and black & white photographs, in a mix of both archival and modern.

Pupazzi: Glove puppets and marionettes in the Castello dei Burattini Museo Giordano Ferrari, is published by Grafiche Step.
Paperback: 25.00 euros (21.00 euros plus shipping costs from the publisher’s website - Also available from Mask & Puppet Books at, please contact them for further details.
2015, 300mm x 233mm, 208pp
ISBN 978 88 7898 111 9

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