Chinese Shadow Puppetry
A comprehensive informational website
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While the Yunnan aesthetic is relatively young, originating around 400-600 years ago, it is one of the most striking in the country. The rough, thick hide – usually water buffalo or cow – dictated larger puppets with coarser cuts. Out from behind the light, they look primitive in comparison with their Northern Central cousins. But, when lit from behind these puppets are some of the most arresting I’ve seen yet – bold, brash and impossible to take your eyes off of.
Notice the thickness of the face profile and the brilliance of color in the newer puppets - darker shadows are older puppets that have become opaque through lantern smoke. Yunnan’s pigmentation remains a mixture of mineral pigments sourced from nearby Myanmar and bone glue which yields indelibly vibrant color.
To read an artist's profile from this region, go to our Profiles pages for a story on The Tengchong Shadow Troupe or click here.