Examining the decline of Chinese shadow puppetry in national identity perspective


  • Jianan Liu


Shaanxi shadow puppet theatre as well as many other traditional cultural elements has been declining since the downfall of the imperial China. This is rather a complicated cultural phenomenon caused by multiple factors. But most of these factors are related to China’s pursuit for national identity. In this paper, the author explores the issue of China’s national identity and its relationship with traditional cultural elements (Shaanxi shadow puppet theatre is one representative case among many others). Then on the basis of field and textual research, the decline of Shaanxi shadow puppet theatre and the inner relationship between this decline and the formation of China’s national identity are analyzed and discussed. The author argues that, despite the fact that Shaanxi shadow puppet theatre is an important component of China’s traditional cultural identity, the decline of this traditional art as well as the decline of other traditional cultural elements is an inevitable cultural expense in the context of establishing China’s new national identity.


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