Shadow theatre is an ancient storytelling art, and one of the most famous puppet shows. Characters come to life through the motion of the puppets and of the light source. The resulting images may have different colours and details.
Its deepest roots originated in the East, particularly in Southeast Asia, in India and in other parts of Asia. Nowadays this tradition is still very much alive and has been classified as Intangible Heritage of Mankind by Unesco.
The importance of puppet shows goes well beyond its playful side. Shadows play a religious and social role linked to the spiritual world, to abiding to vows, and to life’s main events. Some puppets are considered sacred and may be used to predict the future, to mark the villages’ boundaries or event o produce holy water
Shows usually take place on the street and may last the whole night.
This exhibition features the similar world of shadow puppets from India, Indonesia and Thailand, with repertoires based on the two major Hindu literature epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Quite the contrary. When we see the puppets, the shows and the type of manipulation and interpretation, we realise these shadow shows are quite different and that their diverse languages and aesthetics help identifying their respective geographical region. Also the repertoire is adjusted to each different region and includes their particular local legends and habits.
This exhibition SHADOW AND ITS THEATRES joins the main characters of the above-mentioned Hindu epic poems, and explores the differences and similarities in shadow puppet theatres from India, Indonesia (Java and Bali) and Thailand.