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Shadow Puppetry

Shadow puppetry is considered the oldest form of puppetry in the world. The origins of puppetry are uncertain, although most historians believe that the appearance of shadow puppetry in China is the first recorded example of the art, started 1,000's of years ago in China. Shadow Puppetry is generally performed with small jointed figures, through a system of strings or rods, behind a backlit screen to enact a story, that is controlled by a person and nearly always require intricate hand movements to operate. Early puppets were masks used in primitive religious ceremonies, and evolved to resemble the human form. Shadow puppetry wins the heart of an audience by its lingering music, exquisite sculpture, brisk color and lively performance.
In China shadow puppets were made from stretched donkey skins, dried sheep skin, water buffaloes, pigs, or fish.  Areas within the puppet are punched out with sharp knives. These areas suggest facial features and help define clothing. The puppets are made from separate pieces and joined together with wire or string. They are controlled by long rods and moved behind a white translucent screen made from paper or cloth. These figures are placed in front of a screen lit from behind so that the shadow the puppets make are clearly visible to the audience. A lamp on the puppeteer's side of the stage provides the light: the audience on the other side sees the moving shadows. Cut-out areas within the figures allow light to shine through.

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