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Haining shadow play

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: August 12, 2016 L M S

Shadow play, also known as shadow puppetry, is an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment that uses flat articulated figures (shadow puppets) to create the impression of moving humans and other three-dimensional objects.

Haining shadow play formed its unique southern sound by using tunes from Yiyang and Haiyan. The libretto and spoken parts of the shadow play were also changed into the local dialect. The custom of worshipping the silkworm god became unique to Haining, giving its shadow play the name Silkworm Opera. 

Today’s Haining shadow play originated and developed from Lin’an (Hangzhou) shadow play in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). In 1956, the Zhejiang Puppet and Shadow Play Troupe was formed in Langjiaban, the only shadow play troupe performing Silkworm Opera. The troupe is able to perform 70 kinds and 160 highlights of plays and operas. 

The troupe has performed more than 210 times around the country since 2001. Over the years, the popularity of shadow play has waned and as a result the government is trying to attract more inheritors and financial support.