I love traditional Chinese shadow puppet shows for their simple elegance. They usually depict old folk tales. The set up is quite basic- simple light, music, screen and puppets that are made of cardboard or thin coloured acrylic sheets. Controllers move individual puppets around to bring the story to life.

Recently I saw a great show (see above) – the fight between the Snipe and the Clam 鹬蚌相争. The snipe had a flight with the clam. The snipe attacked the clam with its beak and the clam held on to it. Both refused to let go. A fisherman came by and netted them both.

Like most Chinese folk tales, there is always a lesson to be learnt from the story. The lesson of this one is: ‘If both sides refuse to compromise, a third-party will take advantage of the situation.’

Chinese shadow puppet show
The snipe was about to ‘fly in’, as controlled by the lady on the left of the screen. (perhaps she should have dressed in black?!)

Backstage- Chinese shadow puppet show
Basic setting behind the screen

Simple puppets
Chinese shadow puppet

Advertisements