The art of Chinese Shadow Puppet is not only a unique artistic type which ingenious combines with folk art and drama, but an indispensable part in Chinese Arts Center. Shadow puppet play is a drama form which makes the audience watch different flat dolls performance's Shadow puppet through a white curtain and to achieve the artistic effect. While these flat dolls and the scenery props, usually painted and carved with folk artists, in Shadow play are called Shadow puppets.
Shadow puppet play, also called sheep play and head play, first born in the West Han Dynasty about two thousand years ago. It originated from Shaanxi Province of China, mature age in the Tang and Song Dynasty, popular in Qing Dynasty. That is to say, Shadow puppets have a long history. Besides, they are made of animal's leather, and for durable character, the ox and donkey's leather are better.
The processes of shadow puppets are complex. They mainly use red, yellow, blue, green and black five pure and clear colors as painted materials so that to make shadow figures and props' reflection on the screen more magnificent and sparkling.
According to the custom of Chinese traditional opera, Shadow puppet figures have mainly divided into four types, Sheng(men), Dan(women),
Jing, Chou. Each character is composed with head, upper body, lower body, two legs, two upper arms, two lower arms and two hands which eleven parts connect together. Therefore, the performers perform all kinds of actions by controlling the main line before these characters neck and the two lines beside hands.
In China, many local operas are developed from Shadow puppet play, while this art's performing way played an leading role on invention of the modern film. Today, the Chinese Shadow puppets are very popular among the world and the museums in different countries are eager to collect them. At the same time, this art also becomes special gifts for Chinese Government to the leaders of other countries when communicated with each other. From this, we can see that Shadow puppets in China and the world have a very high artistic value.
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