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 clown character.

Iconographic meaning

The facial features are all typical of a clown archetype. The headdress is also awkward and fitting for a clown.

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 clown head (clown character; Yang saga). Flat head made from semi-translucent cut, punched and painted hide. The face is cutout or hollow, and outlined in black. The eyebrows are arched and extend the width of the face, and mouth smirks. They wear a thin yellow mask(?) over the eyes, and a red head scarf with cut out flowers, green outline and borders, and two long red with small green, black and yellow horizontal bands. A long neck acts as a tab to insert into the collar of a body.