Shadow Puppet Theatre at the British Museum Work

Last week at work I joined a class of Masters students visiting the British Museum, specifically the Shadow Puppet Theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. I was there to photograph the visit but I was blown away by what I saw so took a few minutes at the end of the visit to take these pictures. I had always assumed shadow puppets would be black and white yet these were so bright and vibrant, depicting the fashion of the time. The first set of photographs are of puppets dating back to the late 1700s and they are painted hide. I'll just repeat that, these date back to the late 1700s! They are so beautiful and are decorated on both sides.

 The shadow puppets are often associated with life changing events and rituals such as marriage and death and as such were treated as sacred objects.

There were also some incredible instruments 
 So the puppets above as mentioned date back several centuries but each culture has also created new puppets that reflect the fashions of the times. Above and below are from the 1970s 

And here are some examples from this century. I certainly prefer the first puppets but it was so interesting to see the changes down the years to ensure the practice remains part of the culture. I was lucky enough to hear a talk given by the curator but the art work is stunning. If you are in London the exhibition is free and is up in room 91 at the British Museum next to the Prints section. 

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