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A puppet is a made or found object, usually but not necessarily representing a character, used in play or a presentation. There are many kinds of puppet and they are usually sculpted or modelled, sometimes simple in the extreme, and sometimes highly sophisticated artifacts. A puppet may be operated directly by a puppeteer, or indirectly - by the use of strings, for example, or by other mechanical contrivance or even remotely by electronic guidance. Puppets moved by strings are also known as marionettes (from the medieval Passion play figure attributed to Marion or the young Mary, the mother of Jesus) or worn in costume. Puppets may also be animated by using stop motion animation.

A general distinction between a puppet and an automaton is the former is mostly operated live and the latter is mostly programmed (for example a coin-operated automata-show or piano-roll sideshow figure).