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Pimprle[Also known as Pimperle, Pimperl, Pimperdle]

Country

Czech Republic

A traditional comic character of Czech puppet theatre. This character was part of the popular repertoire of Czech puppet theatre between the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Pimrle is also known under the names Pimperle, Pimperl, and Pimperdle. The origins of this character are still quite mysterious; however, it appears that he was introduced into the Czech repertoire through foreign puppeteers, most probably Austrian, who were active in Bohemia. The first showman to popularize this character was possibly the German artist Gerhard Bressler (sometimes pronounced in Czech as Pressler), also called “Malý Pimperle” (Little Pimperle), active in the 1770s and 1780s in the cities of Central Europe, including Prague, Silesia, Cracow, and Warsaw.

In the early 19th century, Pimprle appeared in most Czech puppet plays. The character represented the popular figure of the clever servant who parodied the behaviour of the nobility. He was so popular that, at the beginning of the 19th century, the word “pimprle” came to designate the puppet theatre itself. In Czech puppet plays of the 1840s, Pimprle was gradually renamed Kašpárek (a name that was more acceptable for Czech audiences than the German-sounding Pimprle) without altering his essential character.

(See Czech Republic.)