Object of the Day

Chinese rod puppet – lion

The history of shadow puppetry in China goes back more than 2000 years. The story believed by most is that during the Han Dynasty Emperor Wu lost his favorite concubine to an illness. He missed her terribly and afterwords lost the desire to rule his empire. One day a minister happened to see children playing with dolls in the street and noticed how the dolls cast vivid shadows. The minister, amazed with this discovery, decided to make a cotton replica of the concubine and painted the replica. Later that night the minister used the replica to act out a puppet show and the emperor took to the show with much delight. Thus starting the art that is the shadow puppet.This shadow puppet acquired by the Museum of Texas Tech University was a gift from Mrs. Arthur P. Black. This shadow puppet is in the form of a Chinese lion and different hues of red, orange, and green. Most Chinese shadow puppets are made out of donkey or ox leather and treated so that they are translucent enough to let light through. This shadow puppet ,as with most shadow puppets, has joints where rods attach so that the puppet can be moved. However, the rods for this puppet are missing.