Everything means something
Symbolism and Design
Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
Design wise, shadow puppetry carries with it China’s human history. Every puppet is an amalgamation of China’s philosophies, symbolism, and insatiable love of harmony. The complexity of the puppet designs can be overwhelming and their simplicity, breathtaking. Taking the time to enter into a pattern and follow it from top to bottom, getting lost somewhere in between, and finding yourself again far away from where you started is dreamlike for someone like me: a mystery unlocking more mystery. Here I’ve paired a few of the more direct translations from traditional Chinese costume to traditional Chinese puppet so you can compare the design adaptations for yourself.
Photo at left is a close up of a shadow table detail.