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Old craftsman worries about future of shadow puppetry

Updated: 2014-12-04 13:59:15

( Chinaculture.org )

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Lv Xinzhe with a puppet in Lvzhuang village, Henan province, Nov 2, 2014.

Lv Xinzhe, a 100-year-old man from Lvzhuang village in Henan province, sticks to shadow puppetry despite its dim future prospects.

As a seventh generation carrier of Lv Puppetry Colored Shadow Puppetry, Lv studied the folk art from his father, starting at age 6. All his life he has been presenting the art around China. He has created numerous puppet shadow shows, some of which won broad praise from audiences, such as A Journey to the West and Investiture of the Gods.

Lv Puppetry Colored Shadow Puppetry has a history of more than 1,000 years, dating back to Northern Song (960-1127) Dynasty. It combines painting, sculpture, music, literature and opera. It is one of the oldest, most primitive and native operas in Henan province.

Lv said a puppetry show does not need a special stage but only needs a screen and some desks. A performance troupe usually have seven or eight members, with one playing a drum, one an Erhu, a string instrument, one controlling the puppets and still one singing different roles…

Lv Puppetry Colored Shadow Puppetry was included in the list of Henan provincial intangible heritages in 2013 and Lv was named one of representative carriers of the art. Nevertheless, Lv is worried for the future of this style of puppetry.

All of the puppets are handmade, materials must be superior animal leather and a whole show takes half a year to create. But the income is low and the handicraftsmen struggle to make a living. Without support and protection, the ancient handicraft may die out soon, said Lv.

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