Xi'an, May 16: Oldest House and Leather Shadow Opera Folk Show


After lunch, we toured a large palatial courtyard house, the “oldest house” and former residence of Gao Yue Song and seven generations of his family. The 86-room Qing Dynasty mansion has received historical protection in recent years, and has been thoroughly restored. It also serves as the base for Chang’an University’s historical and cultural research activities. While there, we were also shown a “Leather Shadow Opera” folk show (see next page), and were served several kinds of tea in an elaborate tea ceremony (lower right).




Tea service


Leather Shadow Opera Folk Show

Leather shadow art theater
Leather shadow art show

After the show
Leather shadow art figures

A leather shadow opera uses figures painted on almost-transparent donkey skin. The figures are made with multiple pieces, intricately cut, and assembled with articulated joints. During a performance they are animated with sticks by performers behind a translucent backlighted screen, much like a puppet show. Some of their stock of figures on display (above right) are characters from The Journey to the West. Later on, at a shop in Shanghai, I bargained for and purchased the two leather shadow art figures shown below.


Leather shadow opera figures