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Shadow Puppet Play


In Thailand, the shadow puppet play is regarded to be the forerunner of the classical dance theatre . In 1458 it was  mentioned in documents and was a popular form of entertainment in earlier years. The only rarely presented variation nang yai (nang = skin, leather) is played with up to 2,5 meter tall and 1,5 meter wide figures made of dark tanned buffalo leather. Some of them are appreciated by connoisseurs as works of art because of their meticulous detail and  different colored areas.
While the Nang Yai play usually takes a lot of effort because there are about 20 players needed who move the huge stiff  figures behind a rather large screen. The proportions for playing the nang talung are much smaller (talung = Phattalung; the countryside around this town in southern Thailand used to be the centre of this art). Though an orchestra also provides the background music for this popular version, in comparison to Nang Yai, the players use figures. They are flexible, only one metre in height  and speak the  by themselves to explain the storyline to the audience. The contents of the play are mostly episodes of the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Indian Ramayana epic. They also like to improvise fairytale-like stories which relate to current social or local events.     
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