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Multimedia Box: The fascinating world of hand shadows

October 16, 2010 by · No comments

It tells a story. It has a life. It is breathing. It is spontaneous….It is the amazing art of hand shadows. The vivid pictures it draws could carry you away to the world of fairy-tales, in another dimension. And what hides behind its unique artistic nature is the ingenious simplicity involved in it. The light and the shadows act as the perfect performance, and captivate the audience. We get lost in the atmosphere the show creates.

The shades of black and white offer a unique window into the insight of one of the most venerable art forms.

History remains silent about the exact origin of the art of hand shadow though it is considered one of the most ancient forms of art. When it first appeared is difficult to say, and there are also some speculations about the place of birth of this art form. For example, there is a legend in China that tells about an emperor whose sick wife left him alone, suffering, and the emperor made up his mind to ask a magician if he could bring his dead wife back to life. Admittedly, the magician could not fulfill his expectations, but despite everything, he tried to trick him. He used a silk screen and a puppet to create an illusion and by doing so he succeeded in deceiving the emperor. But not for long. After his deception was revealed, the emperor ordered the fraud’s head be cut off.

Of course it is only a legend, where as India, has a more believable version of the origin of hand shadows. The Ramayana – an ancient epic poem written in the 4th century B.C. is the secret key to the mystery. The poem describes the life of Rama represented in hand shadow form. Some argue about the plausibility of the document but it is indeed the oldest document about shadow and puppet show known to us.

So no matter whether it represents an old legend, fairytale or just a simple daily story, the hand shadow art could transform a plain narrative into an astounding experience for the public.

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