Punchinello (otherwise known as Pulcinella or Polichinelle) originated in the Commedia dell’Arte theatre and later became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry.
Originally a buffoonish, clown-like figure, he gradually developed into something altogether more sinister. His main characteristics were his extremely long, beak-like nose and high-pitched voice, and he was sometimes also depicted as hideously deformed and overweight. Usually in conflict with authority, his traditional temperament was to be mean, vicious and crafty, punctuated with sudden outbursts of violence.
If any of this sounds familiar to British readers, he is, of course, a precursor to Mr. Punch of the Punch and Judy puppet show.