Shadow art pop­u­lar­ity resurges as in old times

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHANGSHA SPECIAL - By ZHUAN TI zhuanti@chi­

“The shadow play is a great way to ed­u­cate peo­ple about moral­ity and val­ues. If I let the shadow play art of Wangcheng die out in my gen­er­a­tion, then I am no bet­ter than a crim­i­nal!” said Zhu Guo­qiang, a life­long shadow play per­former in Wangcheng dis­trict, Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan prov­ince.

Shadow play, also known as shadow pup­petry, is an an­cient form of entertainment that uses pa­per cut-outs or hid­den pup­pets to tell heroic sagas. A good per­for­mance re­quires so­phis­ti­cated con­trol over both shadow and light, del­i­cately made pa­per fig­ures, sto­ry­telling skills, as well as cre­ative use of var­i­ous mu­si­cal in­stru­ments.

Wangcheng , a his­tor­i­cal town of Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince, has been known for its shadow plays since the Qing dy­nasty (1644-1911). Zhu’s fam­ily has run shadow art troupes for gen­er­a­tions. Born in 1962, Zhu en­tered the line of work when he was 15 years old and later be­came the fifth suc­ces­sor of this fam­ily tra­di­tion.

“Back in the day, shadow play was pop­u­lar. We had work the whole year round,” he said. “There was a time I had more than 10,000 peo­ple in the au­di­ence.”

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