Legend says .....
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there
was woman in one of the many kingdoms that made up ancient China. She
was a very special woman. She told the best stories! She was married to
the emperor. She was, in fact, his favorite wife. The emperor loved her
stories. He loved his wife. Sadly, one day, the emperor's wife became
ill and died.
thought the emperor would soon find another favorite among his wives,
but the emperor was very sad. He spent more and more time in his garden,
and less and less time caring for the needs of his people.
in the kingdom was worried. They were afraid that another clan might
hear that their emperor had become weak. That would never do. A warring
clan might attack the city. Many could die. Something had to be done,
and done soon.
One day, a
priest passed some children playing with their dolls. The dolls made
dancing shadows on the wall of the city. This gave the priest an idea.
He knew the stories the emperor's wife used to tell. What if he could
bring those stories to life?
The priest made a puppet out of bits of clay. He painted
the puppet to look somewhat like the emperor's wife. When the puppet was
finished, the priest slipped into the emperor's garden, carrying his
puppet, a candle, and a curtain. He placed the curtain near the
emperor's chair. He placed his candle, his puppet, and himself behind
the curtain. He waited for the emperor to appear.
emperor did not even notice the curtain at first. It was the dancing
shadow that drew his eyes. As the priest moved the puppet behind the
curtain, he told wonderful stories of the emperor's wife. The priest
told a story she used to tell, one of the emperor's favorites.
emperor was entranced. He knew the priest was there. He knew the puppet
was there. But it seemed as if the shadow was telling the story, as if
his wife was spending time with him.
was no longer sad. At the end of each busy day, the emperor went into
his garden, eager to visit his shadow wife and hear her stories once
That is how shadow puppets first
History, Design, and Politics
of Chinese Shadow Puppets
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Ancient China Clipart
to Ancient China for Kids