piyingxi (Shadow Puppet)

About this object

History of use

This piyingxi (shadow puppet) character, Pigsy, is from the classic Chinese narrative, “Journey to the West,” sometimes known as “Monkey King,” which is full of action, acrobatics, and martial arts. Puppets 3338/8-20 represent the four main characters (Pigsy, Monkey King, Sandman, Buddhist Monk), their horse, and the Eight Immortals, who are associated with the stylized clouds (3338/21-22), which indicate their identities as immortal beings.

Iconographic meaning

The puppet is made in a classic north-eastern design (Luanzhou), from Luanzhouzhen in Heibei Province, one of the historically renowned regions of shadow puppetry in China.

Specific techniques

The leather 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

Ju Bajie (Pigsy) shadow puppet with separate head (part b) and accessory rake (part c). Pigsy is depicted with a human body, and pig head. His head is more translucent and shiny than the body. He has a pig snout and large pig ears, large almond-shaped eyes and black eyebrows. He wears a black hat with a green band that is tied with red string, knotted under his chin. He wears an open black tunic with green edging. His hip, knee and elbow joints have wheel-like designs. On his feet he wears black shoes tied with red string. Limbs jointed with fibre at the shoulders, elbows and hips. Operated by three rods. The rake is black with a curved neck, row of triangular teeth, and is operated by one rod.