It’s been awhile since I started my initial search of all things Chinese shadow puppetry. In 2008, I stumbled onto the subject and wanted to know more, much more. And, like most people do when they want to know more, I went to the internet first.
After some intense google-ing, I found almost nothing, save some short introductory paragraphs and some low-resolution photos. I momentarily assumed that this lack of information on the web was somehow a direct indication of the art form’s activity in China. I couldn’t tell for sure, so I kept looking.
I finally found my first contact with an actual shadow puppet troupe in China through a string of connections (one of whom is now my fiancé) and even with my conversational Chinese abilities, it was another battle of logistics to get a hold of them, tell them what I wanted, raise the money to go there and actually find them in the countryside of China.
Throughout the interim five years and extended fieldwork, I have repeatedly found that this chasm between curiosity and concrete information stops most people from following through on that initial interest and I know from my fieldwork that Chinese shadow puppetry needs awareness and curiosity at this very moment more than ever.
Which brings me to my happy news: after years as an idea, generous funding from The Walter and Mary Warpeha Family, The Chinese Heritage Foundation and the US-China Peoples Friendship Association of Minnesota and a good deal of time sitting in front a my computer – I bring you…
The first ever comprehensive Chinese shadow puppet website in English!
It is my great, if idealistic hope, that this website can be the conduit between all that curiosity and concrete information. It is structured to grow and expand over the coming years and will evolve to fit the growing needs of those who use it.
Please, please, please share this website with reckless abandon. Throw the Do-It-Yourself section to teachers and your children/cousins/nieces/nephews, use the handmade vs. machine made section when you go to China and want to buy shadow puppets, use the aesthetics section for all your visual inspirations, check in with the blog (which will be overlap with this one a bit, but be more directed towards events/happenings) and most of all, meet the artists that are working so tirelessly to keep the art form alive. (If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve met them already!)
As always, I solicit your feedback in hopes of improving it wherever possible.
Thanks you, as always, for reading and may the shadows be with you!