Peruvian puppeteer. From a humble mulatto background, Manuel Valdivieso alternated between puppetry and his trade as a saddler/harness maker from which he earned his living. He was a true folk artist, a creator of inspired works with a singular intelligence. His characters were directly drawn from the reality of everyday life of Peruvian society of his times, and his original farces were good-humoured satires of a milieu and customs he knew well. His puppets, made of string and rattan, were rustic and picturesque. Manuel Valdivieso built more than three hundred puppets, caricatures of personalities from his neighbourhood that were full of colour, humour, and charm. Some, like Don Silverio, Mamá Gerundia, Orejoncito, Chocolatito, became akin to national characters.

The puppeteer began performing in vacant lots and old tenements in his neighbourhood, and through word of mouth his fame spread throughout the country. Among his memorable shows, all profoundly “limeñísimo”, Creole and popular, one must mention Corrida de toros (Bullfight), in which the outcome of the drama is that the matador is the loser and the victor is the bull.

The legend of Ño Valdivieso outlasted his creations, which gradually faded, and the man, who died forgotten and very old.

(See Peru.)