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Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry given a modern twist in Shaanxi




Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry given a modern twist in Shaanxi

2024-06-09 22:44 Last Updated At:06-10 00:17

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠A renowned inheritor of Chinese shadow puppetry in Shaanxi Province has brought a modern twist to the traditional theatrical performance, fascinating audience with consummate skills and creative ideas.

Chinese shadow puppetry, or shadow play, is probably one of the most ancient arts using light and shadow, thousands of years before its much more popular successor, the film. Generally, it is a combination of various art forms involving painting, carving, music, opera performance and storytelling.

Despite its many genres, the shadow art in Huazhou County in Shaanxi Province is among the most acclaimed, being listed as an intangible cultural heritage item under the state protection in 2006.

In the local Shadow Puppet Expo Park, a play featuring Nezha, a household name that regularly appears in Chinese mythology, was being staged to recount the folk deity's well-known story of fighting his way to become a hero. But different from a traditional shadow puppet show, the story was being presented in a way similar to modern films. The large curtain and the multimedia tools created an immersive visual feast of light and shadow for the audience.

"It's wonderful. This is the first time I've seen a shadow puppetry show with [modern] projection elements.  It's like watching cartoons," said Yang Xiaoqing, a visitor.

"This is my second time watching this play. I was wowed by it the first time I saw it. The sound, light and the special effect of lightning were very well done," said Shao Changpu, a shadow puppetry performer from Beijing.

According to the inheritor Xue Hongquan, they have made multiple adjustments to the original performance to make it more vivid and impressive.

"The screen for traditional shadow plays is only 1.5 meters [in both length and breadth]. But now our screen is 5 meters long and 2.2 meters wide, similar to the screen in a cinema. We also install lights on the Wind-and-Fire Wheels [Nezha's weapon] and enable it to rotate. These are what differ from the traditional show," said Xue.

The artist is also famous for his craftsmanship in making puppets used in the performances. His award-winning work "Fanwang" features sophisticated puppets made of well-selected leathers from cattle after going through more than 30 steps of processing including soaking, scraping, grinding, carving, dyeing, and embellishment.

"It took me over a month to finish the work. Its craftsmanship is mainly embodied in the craving of hairs, which are rolled up one by one.  Even a little bit breakage is not allowed. They should have same degree of thickness, be smooth and vivid. Why are our shadow puppets in Huazhou, Shaanxi so delicate? I think it has a lot to do with the techniques," Xue said.

Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry given a modern twist in Shaanxi

Traditional Chinese shadow puppetry given a modern twist in Shaanxi

China's top political advisor Wang Huning on Monday called for further efforts to support the country's reform and development.

Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks when addressing a symposium held to analyze the economic situation in the first half of this year.

Wang stressed the need to study and implement the guiding principles from the just-concluded third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee. He also highlighted the importance of thinking and acting in line with the CPC Central Committee's decisions and plans to further deepen reform comprehensively and advance Chinese modernization.

China's economy continued its recovery in the first half of 2024 in a stable manner, with progress made in nurturing new quality productive forces, expanding new growth drivers and promoting high-quality development, according to political advisors and experts attending the symposium.

Wang called on political advisors to continue their research on economic structural reform and high-quality development and provide targeted, pragmatic and effective advice.

The CPPCC should implement the central authorities' decisions and arrangements on economic work, work to stabilize expectations and build consensus, and help achieve China's full-year economic and social development goals, he said.

Ten members of the CPPCC National Committee and experts delivered speeches at the symposium, and made discussions and suggestions on issues like deepening the reform of market-oriented allocation of factors, promoting the integration of scientific and technological innovation and industrial innovation, and promoting the development of artificial intelligence.

They also made discussions and suggestions on giving full play to the innovation advantages of state-owned enterprises, promoting high-quality development of the private economy, expanding domestic demand, stabilizing taxation and prices, and promoting high-quality development of finance and trade.

China's top political advisor stresses further efforts to support reform, development

China's top political advisor stresses further efforts to support reform, development

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