There is every reason to believe, that Punch and his wife were originally natives of China; and that all our puppet-shows were brought from that country. The little theatre, above the head of a man concealed behind a curtain, is precisely Chinese. Les ombres Chinoises still bear the name of their inventors; but the annexed representation of a puppet-showman is somewhat different from both, and is the simple origin of the Fantoccini, which consists in giving motion to the puppets, by means of springs attached to particular parts of the figures. These little dancing puppets are not merely exhibited for the amusement of children; they furnish entertainment for the Emperor and his court, and more especially for the ladies who, from their recluse mode of life, are easily diverted with any kind of amusement, however childish. We find from Mr. Barrow, that a puppet-show was one species of entertainment given to Lord Macartney and his suite at the Emperor’s palace of Gehol in Tartary.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814