piyingxi (Shadow Puppet)

About this object

History of use

The Chinese shadow figure body 3338/1 (pt a) is designed for interchangeable heads (3338/2-7). Each head represents one of the five common archetypes of the Yang saga: female protagonist, male protagonist, warrior (painted face), bearded man, and clown. This example is the bearded man character.

Iconographic meaning

The character's facial features denote much bravery. This character is similar to Guan Yu, a god of war.

Specific techniques

The cowhide is scraped extremely thin, which together with their jointed limbs, makes these puppets highly flexible when they perform high kicks, jumps, and flips. When performing, their distinctive designs and vibrant colours are visible on the glowing screen, enhancing the magical effects of the characters in motion.

Physical description

Shadow puppet head (ran or jing, bearded man character; Yang saga). Flat head made from semi-translucent cut, punched and painted hide. His face is red, he has lying silkworm eyebrows, a red phoenix eye, and a five-strand beard. The headdress has a cloth section which extends upwards, with another section extending down the back with alternating red and green diagonal stripes. The top is adorned with many small pompoms and one large green pompom. A long neck acts as a tab to insert into the collar of a body.