the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

Europe history: Street entertainers

marionettes and jig dolls

Although marionettes were mostly accompanied by the pipe and tabor other instruments were also used. Here are examples of the little figures used by taborers over the centuries to entertain the general public in town and country.

From the twelfth century there is documentation of some dancing puppets called bavasteles. They are of Italian origin, but quickly spread throughout France, Spain and the rest of European capitals.

The bavasteles were small full-bodied polychrome wooden articulated dolls that were suspended between ropes in a horizontal position. One end of the string was tied to a wooden stake or other fixed object, and the other to  the leg of the puppeteer, who, by moving it, tightened it and caused the puppets to dance or do somersaults to the beat of the music or the songs of the minstrel himself. The minstrel could play a bagpipe, a hurdy-gurdy, a barrel organ, a tabor or a pipe and tabor.


France France, Provence 18th century France18th century Italy
1797 1804 1810
18121812 Russians in Paris


18141814 Cossacks in Paris
1815 1820 1822
1810-18251810-1825 toile France VictorianVictorian England
Victorian1823 satire - 'Gentleman Dancing Master' 1826
marionettesnot known

Francenot known France

1828 newspaper cutting of court casenewspaper cutting of court case - Star (London) - Saturday 15 November 1828

Wellington 1829 satire France

1830 Germany1830 Germany

1835 London, England

1830-46 France
1817 and 1835 1840 Mary Evans Picture Library 1840 copy1840 France
1833-691833-69 France plateplate unknown 18481848 France

France France unknown

1853 Germany

'A boy makes music with a one-handed flute and a one-handed drum. He holds two marionettes in his arms and carries a board on his back.'

1850-18801850-1880 copper etching, Holland Victorian hollandmid Victorian, Holland

early Victorianearly Victorian Germany

marionettes19th century UK

1820-60 France New York  
unknownunknown with double pipes FranceFrance
late 19th century France
18501850 Germany
19th century19th century France
Lantern SlideVictorian lantern slide [detail]
1834 England 1834Morning Post - Wednesday 13 August 1834

1856 London, England

“…Where is the little pipe-and-tabor doll-dancer?
Where is the monkey-bearer ? Where the little fellow
with the marmoset ? and the other little fellow with the
guinea-pigs? and where are the Italian whitemice boys
of to-day ? Positively, with the rarest exceptions,
there are now none of these to be found, and we
should like to know the reason why….”

The Leisure Hour 1856-12-11: Vol 5 Iss 259

1866 English story ‘May-day at the Cottage.’1866'Country Scenes', by Harriet Myrtle - Page 126

1866 story ‘The Goat and her Kid.’
“…One day a poor Italian boy came down the lane playing upon a pipe, and beating a little tabor.
He used to play these for two dolls that danced upon a board by means of a string that went through
their bodies, and was fastened to his knee, so that when he moved his knee quickly the dolls seemed
to dance about upon the board….”

‘Country Scenes’, by Harriet Myrtle

late 19th centurylate 19th century France
1888 newspaper article ‘Mr Sam Bayliss and his Marionettes’1888Preston Herald - Saturday 13 October 1888
French oil paintingFrench oil painting 1890's statuette 1880-1910 Netherlands1880-1910 Netherlands
1893 newspaper article ‘Vanished Street Shows’:1893Dublin Daily Express - Tuesday 17 October 1893
19341934 card, USA    

2001 2001 Christof Kautzsch from Buxheim, Bavaria, Germany

1993 Scotland Charlotte Waites2010 Charlotte Waites
North Carolina, USA
21stcentury New Zealand festival21st century New Zealand festival
20142014 Pippo 20232023 Gaby Bultman, Germany



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