Shadow Puppet Origin and Legend
Chinese shadow puppet was originated in Xi'an. Shadow puppets are jointed puppets made of thin donkey or cowhide. They are famous throughout China and versions of it can be found in many parts of the country.
Shadow puppets were invented more than 2,000 years ago in the capital Changan (the historic name of Xian) during the ruling of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. Chinese legends tell that the first shadow puppet was made to cheer up the Emperor as he was deeply saddened by the death of his favorite concubine, and lost interest in his kingdom. A minister was inspired by the shadows cast by dolls as children played, and put up a play of vivid shadow images created by puppets cut by donkey skin. The Emperor was cheered up, and the shadow puppetry soon became very popular in the Changan city (Xian).
Xi'an Shadow Puppets Play
Since the Tang Dynasties (618 BC – 907 BC), Shadow puppetry became a sophisticated art in China and wins the heart of people of all social statues by its lingering music, exquisite sculpture, brick color, and lively performance.
During a shadow puppet play, the puppets are controlled with thin sticks similar to chopsticks. They are moved behind a screen with a light behind them. The shadows of the puppets are shown on the screen and can be seen by the audience. A puppet play often shows Chinese legends, battles, and mythological creatures. A small band of musicians is accompanied during the play.
Recommended China tour with Shadow Puppet play arranged on request:
Or contact us for a tailor-made China tour!
More about Cultural Tidbits:
- Great wall Giant Panda Peking Opera Chinese Cuisine
- Naxi culture & dress Terracotta Warriors Acrobatics
- Chinese Kungfu Chinese Architecture The Softness of Silk
- Chinese Tea Cheongsam The China Red
- Lantern Festival Dragon Boat Festival Mid-Autumn Festival
- Legends of West Lake Impression Liu Sanjie Stupa & Pagoda
- Shadow Puppet Play Peasant Painting Paper Cutting