Special Exhibition under the patronage of UNESCO
From July, 2nd 2012 to 21st of October 2012
“The world of shadows – Chinese shadow theatre meets Beijing Opera”
They tell tales about the downfall of the late Han Dynasty, they dream about journeys through western countries and they battle like brave generals: since the 11th century, shadow puppetry has reflected the cultural history of China. For the mostly illiterate population, the plays using figures made out of donkey or buffalo parchment were of great importance for the oral cultural tradition. After the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, the government wanted to use the popular shadow plays for the purpose of educating the people and thus built well-equipped state theatres in the larger cities. Today, the traditional shadow puppetry experiences a revival. During the Olympics in 2008 this art form got a lot of attention, as the famous director Zhang Yimou included shadow play into the opening ceremony. In November 2011, UNESCO added shadow puppetry to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Museum of Theatre Puppets presented the diversity of this meaningful folk art in a special exhibition. The museums great collection of Chinese theatre figures, musical instruments, stage decoration, and props contains numerous shadow figures. Some of them are more than 100 years old and many are created by famous artists. Among others, the shadow theatre collection contains figures from famous themes such as “The white serpent” or “Journey to the west”, and shadow figures that date back to the era of the Cultural Revolution around 1970. The second focus of the exhibition is the Beijing Opera. Six Beijing Opera costumes as well as head covers dating back to 1930 will be on loan to our exhibition. Through the combination of costumes and puppets, the exhibition showed the differences as well as the similarities between both art forms and communicates the meaning of these strongly symbolic props.
For this exhibition, the museum was given the opportunity to show footage of several Chinese shadow plays that were developed ten years ago in Sichuan.