Woman in red tunic and trousers and floral headdress, clothing designs in green and black
Chinese shadow puppets are made of leathers from livestock. The leathers are carefully selected and polished before they are painted and carved. Most traditional puppets are one-sided flat figures, and the decorative patterns on their clothes are arranged strictly in accordance with the status and class of the figures. The body parts of the puppets are separately cut out and joined together, so that they have as many as 24 movable joints. Puppeteers control them using rods linked to their most important joints during performances, operating as many as five rods on one puppet with only one hand.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History holds a collection of 18 Chinese shadow puppets. See the museum catalog here.

This site is a digital archive of the Peabody's collection. Click the arrows to browse the puppets in detail, and the captions to create your own shadow puppet show.