Shadow Puppet Theatre

Shadow puppet theatre, piyingxi (leather shadow theatre), came to Taiwan probably in the late 18th century from the north of Guangdong and south of Fujian provinces and the traditional companies are centered in the Gaoxiong area in the south of Taiwan. There are still several active companies that perform traditional shadow puppet theatre. The puppets are carved from cow skin and made by the puppeteers themselves. Due to its two-dimensional nature, the shadow theatre uses numerous backdrops and animal and magical characters.

In the early 20th century, Larry Reed from Shadowlights in San Francisco introduced his cinematographic way of presenting shadow theatre in Taiwan. This inspired a whole new generation of shadow theatre performers and plays. Several other companies continue to work with this technique.

View of the exhibition

Master Xu Funeng making shadow puppets (photo by Yi-feng Chiu)

The Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company created “Shadows of Love” together with the Beijing Shadow Troupe and Cengiz Özek from Istanbul at the National Theatre in Taipei in 2012.

Magical warrior shadow puppet (Taiwan, 1970s)