In the form of earrings or printed on fabrics, Sicilian Pupi are a part of Dolce&Gabbana women fashion show SS13. Swide reveals what is their real story.
We have seen them hanging in miniature as earrings or printed in giant-size on the dresses on the runway, but the Pupi Siciliani are the protagonists of the SS13 women collection of Dolce&Gabbana because their history is very much intertwined with the Sicilian territory.
The “real” Pupi are special kind of marionettes (the size of a big doll, basically) made of wood that resemble humans holding shields, spear, helmets. They are and have been an important part of Sicilian Theatre’s history: they represent Charlemagne and his paladins, as the plot told in the Theatre since the XIX Century in Southern Italy interprets all the medieval chivalry-epic literature typical of Sicilian storytellers.
To be precise they became popular in Naples in the first half of XIX Century and then in Sicily in the second half of XIX and the first half of the XX Century.
Despite the fact that Pupi comes from latin “pupus”, child, this kind of theatre wasn’t intended for kids but for all: each one of the Pupi were hand paint, chiseled in wood and steel, wearing real armor, and the public used to root for one paladin or another, recognizable on stage through small details. The one-man show behind all this was the puparo, who took care of the show, the screenplay, and made sure that each one of the characters had a different voice. Often the puparo didn’t even know how to write, but he knew by heart works like the Chanson de Roland and the Orlando Furioso as this job developed during the Centuries only through oral tradition, from one generation to another.
It is moving to imagine these characters taking up on a dusty stage in the middle of a small town’s square, and it can give an idea of how much more than marionette they were, but a real ritual happening in town during which family found time for all the components and gathered to watch a literary poem impersonated by Pupi Siciliani.
This tradition survives nowadays, too, and is so much part of Italian history that the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared the Opera Theatre of Pupi a world heritage cultural patrimony.
Directly from Sicily to the printed fabrics of Dolce&Gabbana’s Spring Summer 2013 runway.