“Mamulengo is a type of puppet performance popular in the Northeast of Brazil, especially in the state of Pernambuco. The origin of the name is unclear, but it is believed that it originated with the Portuguese phrase mão molenga, meaning “soft hand”, ideal for giving lively movements to a puppet.
The city of Olinda has a Museum of Mamulengo, dedicated to preserving the art of mamulengo puppetry. The museum has a collection of antique mamulengo puppets. It also honours the popular masters of the art, such as Saúba, Tonho de Pombos, Luiz da Serra, Pedro Rosa, Zé Lopes, Antônio Biló, and Manuel Marcelino.”
The museum is located in an eclectic building that showcases colonial design and late nineteenth century architecture. It was acquired by the Pró-Memória Foundation and IPHAN in August of 1984 and the museum was inaugurated ten years later, on December 14th, 1994.
The “Museu do Mamulengo – Espaço Tiridá”, its official name, is an artistic, playful and magical place. Artistic due to the quantity and quality of its wonderful collection (approximately 1,200 antique and contemporary dolls), playful for what it offers its audience and magical because through the dolls the visitor or researcher penetrates a provocative world with its own language. The creation of the museum’s main mamulengo collection emerged in the 70s, when participants of the mamulengo group Só-Riso decided to invest in the acquisition of dolls by mamulengo masters and who were of old age and without heirs. The group saw the dolls being sold as mere decoration and decided to buy and preserve them. When the musuem opened, the one-of-a-kind pieces were donated.