piyingxi (Shadow Puppet)

About this object

History of use

This piyingxi (shadow puppet) character, Sandy, 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

Sha Wujing (Evil Sandman/Sandy) shadow puppet with separate head (part b), weapon accessory (part c), two large bundles (parts d-e). He wears a monk's robe of a yellow, green, red and black hexagon pattern and has curly black facial hair as well as long curly black hair, which is tied back by a green headband topped with a crescent shape and tied with red ties. He wears a large red hoop in his ear, and a large brown beaded necklace. Limbs jointed with fibre at the shoulders, elbows and hips. Operated by three rods. The monk's spade or crescent moon spade (part c) consists of a long pole with a flat spade-like blade on one end and a crescent-shaped blade with two orange loops on the other. Operated by one rod. With him are two bundles, both dark green rectangles outlined in red and light green. Bundle (part d) has a blue bag and large yellow straw hat, and bundle (part e) has a yellow bag.