"skittle-people , with bellies and collars and Punchinello hats"
French depiction of Punchinello (1860)
Public DomainFrench depiction of Punchinello (1860) - Credit: Maurice Sand
Pulcinella puppet in Naples (2009)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePulcinella puppet in Naples (2009) - Credit: mari27454

 Punchinello, known as Pulcinella in Italian and Punch in English, is a stock figure in traditional southern Italian puppetry.

He has his origins in the 17th century Italian comedy theatre known as Commedia dell'Arte which involves three main classes of stereotypical characters: masters, servants (or clowns), and lovers.

Pulcinella falls into the clown class. He is always depicted with a white costume and black mask, a big  hooked nose, and a sharp, rasping voice. His form is often short and fat, and his character, nasty and sly.

In other European traditions the character has been modified in various ways; for example, he has become Kasper in Germany, Jan Klaassen in the Netherlands, and Mr Punch in the English puppet show Punch and Judy.