http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/00421

Chinese shadow puppetry

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): China

Identification

Description

Chinese shadow puppetry

Chinese shadow puppetry is a form of theatre acted by colourful silhouette figures made from leather or paper, accompanied by music and singing. Manipulated by puppeteers using rods, the figures create the illusion of moving images on a translucent cloth screen illuminated from behind. Many elder shadow puppetry artists can perform dozens of traditional plays, which are orally transmitted or found in written form. They master special techniques such as improvisational singing, falsetto, simultaneous manipulation of several puppets, and the ability to play various musical instruments. Many puppeteers also carve the puppets, which can have between twelve and twenty-four moveable joints. Shadow plays are performed by large troupes with seven to nine performers and smaller troupes of only two to five, primarily for entertainment or religious rituals, weddings and funerals and other special occasions. Some puppeteers are professional, while others are amateurs performing during slack farming seasons. The relevant skills are handed down in families, in troupes, and from master to pupil. Chinese shadow puppetry also passes on information such as cultural history, social beliefs, oral traditions and local customs. It spreads knowledge, promotes cultural values and entertains the community, especially the youth.

Documents

Decision 6.COM 13.3

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: Chinese shadow puppetry is a traditional performance art transmitted from generation to generation and features a large repertoire of plays and songs;
  • R.2: The inscription of Chinese shadow puppetry on the Representative List could help to promote dialogue between cultures, help to raise the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and testify to human creativity;
  • R.3: The nomination illustrates the involvement of tradition bearers, associations and authorities in the elaboration and implementation of ongoing and future safeguarding measures;
  • R.4: Chinese shadow puppetry has been nominated with the cooperation of the tradition bearers, local groups and relevant authorities and the nomination presents their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: Chinese shadow puppetry was included in 2006 and 2008 on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.

Inscribes Chinese shadow puppetry on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Slideshow

Video


© 2009 China Puppet and Shadow Art Society


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