Chinese Shadows, Animals 动物手影

Chinese Shadows Origin Chinese Shadows, Animals

Chinese Shadows, Animals 动物手影

Chinese Shadows Origins

Chinese Shadows Puppetry is said to have originated in China over two thousand years ago during the Han Dynasty.  The most popular origin legend tells of Emperor Han Wudi (156–87 a.C.) who was rendered irrevocably heartsick at the sudden passing of his favorite concubine. As the Emperor’s wisest advisor pondered the best way to revive the Emperor’s spirits, he came upon children playing in the courtyard with parasols under the midday sun.  Their simple parasols cast shadows that were so lifelike, he was struck with an illuminating idea. 

Chinese Shadows

The Hedgehog, 刺猬 

刺猬
小刺猬,真神奇
一身尖刺做外衣
遇到果子忙扎起,
遇到敌人当武器。

Cìwèi
xiǎo cìwèi, zhēn shénqí
yīshēn jiān cì zuò wàiyī
yù dào guǒzi máng zhā qǐ,
yù dào dírén dāng wǔqì.

Chinese Shadows, Chinese Culture

Chinese Shadows , The Hedgehog

That night, the advisor invited the Emperor to the courtyard for a special performance; there he conjured the likeness of the late Empress with such mastery that the Emperor was revived and went on to rule for many prosperous years.  And while the origin legend is certainly more fiction than fact, it speaks to the historic power of the shadow.

Chinese Shadows

Couple of Birds, 刺猬 

对鸟
夜幕垂,静悄悄。
月牙儿,挂树梢
一对小鸟息枝头,
企盼明天更美好

Duì niǎo
yèmù chuí, jìng qiāoqiāo.
Yuèyá er, guà shù shāo
yī duì xiǎo niǎo xī zhī tóu,
qǐpàn míngtiān gèng měihǎo

Chinese Shadows Origins

Chinese Shadows, Couple of Birds

Despite its high profile origins in China, Chinese Shadows puppetry became a people’s art form; it’s simplicity, portability and nighttime performances were perfectly suited for the working classes.  Farmers and laborers took up puppeteering, singing, musical instruments and storytelling after the sun went down to create a tradition that became the heart of their communities.  

Chinese Shadows

The Rooster, 刺猬 

公鸡
美丽勤劳大公鸡,
红红冠子五彩衣,
扑捉害虫本领大,
不睡懒觉早早起。

Gōngjī
měilì qínláo dà gōngjī,
hóng hóng guān zi wǔcǎi yī,
pū zhuō hàichóng běnlǐng dà,
bù shuìlǎnjiào zǎozǎo qǐ.

Chinese Shadows Origins

Chinese Shadows, The Rooster

All night performances were held for any and all occasions; birthdays, weddings, house raisings, and funerals.  For the past two thousand years, the art form survived everything from war and famine, to regime changes and the Cultural Revolution.

Chinese Shadows

The Seagull, 刺猬 

海鸥
一对有力的翅膀,
在辽阔海面上飞翔,
不怕狂风暴雨,
奋力搏击恶浪,
海鸥我们的朋友,
学习你无比坚

Hǎi’ōu
yī duì yǒulì de chìbǎng,
zài liáokuò hǎimiàn shàng fēixiáng,
bùpà kuángfēng bàoyǔ,
fènlì bójí èlàng,
hǎi’ōu wǒmen de péngyǒu,
xuéxí nǐ wúbǐ jiān

Chinese Shadows Origins

Chinese Shadows, The Seagull

In its heyday, Chinese Shadows puppetry was popular in nearly every province making it one of the most wide-spread folk arts of China.  Each region lent their own personality to the art form in everything from aesthetic to musical influences.  Sadly, now in the 21st century, shadow puppetry in China is on a steep and fast decline. This ancient art form has steadily been losing the battle with cultural changes, urbanization and modern forms of entertainment in China’s swiftly modernizing republic. Audiences and apprentices are evaporating at an alarming rate.

 

Article, chineseshadowpuppetry.com

 

Chinese Shadows

The Fox, 刺猬 

狐狸
尖尖嘴,红毛衣,
大尾巴,常翘起,
两只眼睛转呀转,
遇到问题有主意。

Húlí
jiān jiān zuǐ, hóng máoyī,
dà wěibā, cháng qiào qǐ,
liǎng zhī yǎnjīng zhuǎn ya zhuǎn,
yù dào wèntí yǒu zhǔyì

Chinese Shadows Origins

Chinese Shadows, The Fox

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