Kaohsiung Museum of shadow puppet
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Shadow plays, also known in Taiwan as “silhouette shows”, or “leather monkey shows”, have quite a long history. In the Song dynasty, shadow plays were very popular in two capitals, Beisong’s Dongjing (now Kaifeng) and Nansong’s Lian (now Hangzhou). In the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, shadow play performers immigrated to southern Taiwan from Chaozhou, Guangdong, so plays began to grow and develop in Taiwan as well. Centered first in Kaohsiung, shadow plays were usually performed at festivals with historical legends and folk anecdotes in the Chaozhou tone. Then the shows gradually spread north to the Er Ren River and south to the Pingdong countryside. During the Japanese colonial period, Taiwanese shadow play performances focused on traditional repertoire, and were not influenced much by the government. Many plays were written during this period, meaning that shadow plays were very popular and loved by the public. However, after the Pacific War broke out, the Japanese government carried out the “Drum Ban” and established the “Kaohsiung Zhou Shadow Painting Association” to incorporate nongovernmental troupes and force Taiwanese shadow play performers to perform official repertoire that would promote the Kominka Movement.

The shadow plays did not return to popularity among regular folk until Taiwan was restored to the ROC, when they again grew prosperous. In addition to temple fairs and celebrations, shadow plays were also performed in theaters, and became a national craze. In the middle of the 1960s, shadow plays were threatened by new technological media such as television and movies, and were forced to withdraw from the theater market. In the 1970s, movies and dance shows rose in popularity at temple fairs, causing a huge reduction of the shadow play’s audience that almost killed the industry. Today, there are only 4 shadow play troupes remaining in Taiwan, all of which are based out of Kaohsiung City: Yongxingyue and Fuxingge in the Mituo District, Donghua in the Dashe District, and Hongxingge in the Yenchao District.
No. 42, Gangshan S. Rd.,Gangshan District,
Kaohsiung City 82060, Taiwan(Museum Hours)
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TEL:8867-6262620 ext. 2806 | FAX:8867-6250404