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From the 1950s to Now

China's Modern Aesthetic

Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.

Design Characteristics

Communist Puppets were the beginning of a brand new look for Chinese shadow puppetry.  As the Chinese exchanged dynastic costume for proletariat wear, so did the puppets.  Puppets designed explicitly for Communist plays are distinct in their simplistic cuts and realistic representation of the protagonists.  The antagonists of the plays (in this case the Kuomintang, the Americans and eventually the Russians) were often exaggerated in their facial expression which is in line with the design methodologies passed down through the millennium. 

Post-Communist and Cultural Revolution, modern puppets have come to resemble cartoons more often than not and are increasingly designed to perform physical feats of acrobatics rather than stand alone in beauty.  The joinery, materials and rod engineering have remained relatively untouched.  

To read more about modern Chinese shadow puppet history, go to our History/20th Century page or click here.

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