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Description

Li Tieguai or Iron Crutch Li shadow puppet with separate head (part b) and crutch (part c). He has long curly black hair, a curly scraggy beard and a dirty face. He wears a black robe with small red or green cloud decorations, tied at the waist with a red sash, and with red pants showing under the bottom of the robe. On his hip is a yellow gourd(?). He has bare feet. Limbs jointed with fibre at the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips. Operated by three rods. He has a black crutch accessory. There is a small loop at the end of the shaft for the puppet's fingers.

History Of Use

This character is Li Tieguai (Iron Crutch Li), one of the Eight Immortals. This piyingxi (shadow puppet) character is from the classic Chinese narrative, “Journey to the West,” sometimes known as “Monkey King,” which is full of action, acrobatics, and martial arts. Puppets 3338/8-20 represent the four main characters (Pigsy, Monkey King, Sandman, Buddhist Monk), their horse, and the Eight Immortals, who are associated with the stylized clouds (3338/21-22), which indicate their identities as immortal beings.

Specific Techniques

The cowhide is scraped extremely thin which, together with their jointed limbs, makes these puppets highly flexible when they perform high kicks, jumps, and flips. When performing, their distinctive designs and vibrant colours are visible on the glowing screen, enhancing the magical effects of the characters in motion.

Iconographic Meaning

The puppet is made in a classic north-eastern design (Luanzhou), from Luanzhouzhen in Heibei Province, one of the historically renowned regions of shadow puppetry in China.

Item History

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