Shadow puppet theatres first started in China thousands of years ago. Shadow puppets tell people about important events and describe traditional stories. Nowadays there are some new and modern stories,too.
Chinese shadow theatre figures Shadow puppetry originated during the Han Dynasty when the wife of Emperor Wu died from an illness. The emperor asked court officers to bring her back to life. The officers made a shape of the woman using donkey leather.
Her joints were animated using 200 separate pieces of the leather, and adorned with painted clothes. Using an oil lamp they made her shadow move, bringing her back to life.
The puppets are usually made from animal skins. These shadow puppets are camel skin and they come from Indonesia.
Wayang kulit shadowplay performance in Yogyakarta. Shadow puppet theater is called Wayang kulit in Indonesia. The term wayang means shadow in Javanese. The word kulit means skin, as the material from which the puppet is made is thin perforated leather sheets made from buffalo skin.
The theatre is dark and a bright light shines on the puppets to make shadows on a screen behind them. Today, puppets made of leather and moved on sticks are used to tell dramatic versions of traditional fairy tales and myths.