This exhibition explored the cultural heritage of puppetry as it has been developed and used in China. Puppetry of China was an opportunity to view hand, string, rod and shadow figures with an appreciation for their ‘beautiful construction and design while at the same time giving an idea of their dramatic tradition. Over the centuries puppeteers in China entertained audiences at rural fairs and in city squares, giving special performances to mark festivals, weddings, birthdays, and funerals or to protect villages in times of famine or illness. Early Chinese written documents describe funerary figures, which were entirely life-like and could move, dance and sing, animated by a shaman for spiritual guidance, protection or to bring good fortune. It was the gift of the puppeteer to bring to life the legendary characters of Chinese history and literature, unfolding the timeless themes of loyalty and betrayal, lover and hatred, jealousy and compassion. The performers passed their special skills from father to son, preserving their distinctive movements, songs and play texts and further refining them in each generation.
These puppets were part of an exhibition entitled Puppetry of China that toured The United States for three years.