Friday, 19 June 2015

Exit The Shadow World

As part of the occasional disappearing world series of posts on this blog, that have covered everything from Castanet making in Spain, through travelling knife sharpeners, to Spanish onion selling in the UK (I even thought about having a post on Scottish footballers, but their recent revival made me drop it .... only joking people!), I am highlighting another dying art ... the Chinese puppet show.

Chinese Shadow Puppetry

At the Chinese New Year, traditionally people in China would go out to watch shadow puppet shows, an ancient form of Chinese (and indeed oriental ... I have some Bali shadow puppets myself),  storytelling. But shadow puppetry is a tradition, that like many others, is slowly dying out. Many traditional art forms are having to face the invasion of TV and the Internet, into the spaces that they formally held ... Older children (I am thinking over eights), just seem to prefer the immersive world of heroes, that on-line PC 'reality' games allow them to easily enter, and can't seem to exercise their imaginations without the visual props that the PC gives them.

To be fair, who can blame them? Had these games and the Internet been available (and we could have afforded it), when I was a child, no doubt I too would have been a gamer, not a do'er. They weren't though, and I spent a great deal of time outdoors on my bike, or playing games with other children, then when it was raining, I played with model soldiers, cowboys and Indians etc with my brother, or even read (books!). Maybe that's why I wax on a little nostalgically about the lost traditions of a shared cultural heritage, which it seems to me are being destroyed (both in the UK and in other countries).

Anyway's, back to China, where one of the country's oldest puppeteers, Wu Shengping is doing his best to keep the art alive .... but one suspects he is fighting a losing battle.

Globalisation is phenomena, that means that even China is not immune to global trends. Children will either play these computer games at home, or more often in Internet cafe's, which are away from censorious parental eyes, and parental fussing over the bills.

Its sad of course, but the world is moving in one way, with the notable exception of the backward areas tied to socially regressive religions (only there, is the Internet acting more of a regressive social force), and so slowly, our citizens are increasingly sharing a common heritage of PC games, shared on-line with others from around the globe. Whether that's for the good or bad, its too early to say for sure.

NB: I only found out recently, that in China, mention of Britain brings forth two images to locals .... James Bond and Mr Bean ... says it all really.


  1. A bit like Albania thinking of Norman Wisdom when Britain was mentioned because the communists played his movies to them for decades.

    1. Those communists knew how to torture a nation didn't they! Thanks for the comment.


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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....