Shandong Culture

Tai'an pupils shine in national children shadow play

( Updated: 2016-10-11

A shadow play troupe consisting of three Tai’an school pupils, stood out at a 2016 national shadow play for children, held in Beijing from Oct 4 to 6.

Tai'an pupils shine in national children shadow play

Traditional Tai'an shadow play. [Photo/Weibo: Tai'an Daily]

Chinese shadow puppetry is one of the oldest performing arts in the world with a history dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and became part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2011.

It is the first time China has hosted a national shadow play starring children, with the hope of reviving a part of cultural heritage in decline. More than 100 children attended the show from six different provinces across china.

Tai'an's three fourth-grade pupils: Fan Fangyi, Han Fu'ankang and Zhu Shuhui, impressed the judges of the puppetry contest with their fantastic performances. They were all honored with the title of "young shadow play ambassador".

Fan is from the eighth generation of a shadow play family in Tai'an, and started to give shadow plays at the age of four. He learned the old folk art form in shadow plays known as shibuxian, a form of singing accompanied by music on 10 percussion instruments, from his grandfather.

With his own carved shadow puppets, he played a solo part in the show. His feet simultaneously controlled eight instruments while his hands manipulated shadow puppets, and he voiced the lines of the performance.

Han and Zhu performed another shadow play together, which also received praise from the judges.