Mount Tai shadow puppetry lives on

(| Updated : 2018-12-25

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Fan Zheng'an, the sixth-generation inheritor of Mount Tai shadow puppetry explained the key point of shadow puppet performances to his students at the backstage after his daily show.

Mount Tai shadow puppetry, a national intangible cultural heritage in Shandong province, has a history of more than 600 years.

It stands out among many shadow puppetry schools for its exquisite artistic modeling, wonderful performance skills, and beautiful music singing style.

Fan said that unlike other regional puppet shows that involve an entire troupe, the Mount Tai shadow play is performed by only one person.

The gongs, drums, cymbals and wooden knocker are combined into a music machine that can be operated by one person. It is self-made, and people who wander backstage to take a look are often amazed by the ingenuity.

The 73-year-old puppeteer says he was first captivated by the art when he saw his first shadow puppet show at the age of eight.

At that time, shadow puppeteers from different regions in China had gathered at the foot of Mount Tai. They would perform in sheds built from sorghum stalks.

Nowadays, Mount Tai shadow puppet has been industrialized and developed a series of shadow puppetry products, from ancient traditional characters to modern cartoon images, to promote local culture and tourism.


Fan Zheng'an teaches his student how to put on a shadow puppet show. [Photo provided to]


Shadow puppet characters from Pilgrimage to the West [Photo provided to]


Students from Mount Tai Shadow Puppet Art Academy make shadow puppets by hand. [Photo provided to]