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15 July 2015

Home > About Hunan > Cultural Heritage

[Drama] Jiashan Shadow Puppetry


The shadow puppetry, dating back to the Tang and Song Dynasties (A.D.618- A.D.1279), runs a long course. As one of the Court dramas, it has developed from the north to the south of China. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the shadow play was introduced to Jiashan, You County through Xiangtan City. For hundreds of years, the shadow play has been thriving in most districts of You County and has consequently developed into the Jiashan-Shadow-Play brand.


Jiashan Shadow Play shares certain similarities with the shadow show in Hubei, a province to the north of China. They both involve characters and animals with simple but elegant images, made of carved cardboards and ox skins. The simple lines depict vigorous and stylish figures. Moreover, the shadow show of Jiashan adopts a distinctive style with music coming from Xiangju Opera and Huagu Opera, dialogues originating from many dialects along with many local folk proverbs and slangs. The play is well received and displayed often because it is closely represents the daily life of local people.


Due to the strong response and dependency on modern media such as TVs, movies and Internet, the number of people who want to watch the shadow play has been on a constant decrease. In the rural areas, the shadow play performers are invited to display a show only on special occasions such as festivals, marriage and birthdays. The elderly people are the usual and majority audience to such a show. The current trends have put the art of shadow play in wane and on verge of extinction.