Cui Yongping Shadow Art Museum
Address: Unit 4, First Floor, Jinqiaohuayuan Building 16, Majuqiao, Tongzhou District.
Directions: From Muxiyuan take Bus 927 or 723 to Majuqiao.
Visitor information: The museum contains a shadow puppet theater.
Price: Adults 20 RMB
Driving Directions: Follow Yongdingmen, Muxiyuan, Chengshousi, Yizhuang, Majuqiao routes to Jinqiaohuayuan.
This museum for an art form that predates Peking opera by over 1000 years is made up of converted residential housing. To make this a world-class cultural site, and to give this dying Chinese folk art a place for preservation, two elderly shadow art enthusiasts, Mr. Cui Yongping and his wife exhausted their savings. They have painstakingly collected over 30,000 antiques and examples of shadow art from the times of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the War of Resistance against Japan.
In the only 200+ square meter room, visitors can see the over 2000 year old invention and subsequent development of shadow art. There are over 500 valuable pieces showing different kinds of puppets, information about puppeteers, large scale shadow play sets, performance props, and scripts.
Shadow art was an art of the common people, as it required only light and shadow. It combined ethnic painting and carving, and became a platform for telling traditional Chinese folk tales. It is still present in both China and abroad, and is the only dramatic art that uses flat shapes as its sole performance materials.
Shadow art is regarded by some as the earliest forerunner to film. It was invented in the Han dynasty, become popular in the Tang dynasty, and flourished in the Song dynasty, giving it over 2000 years of history. This means it is over 1700 years older than Peking opera. It combines painting, sculpture, music, singing, and performing into one art. It is a Chinese folk art tradition that has disappeared over the years, and is a rather difficult to save intangible aspect of China’s cultural heritage.
The Beijing Cui Yongping Shadow Art Museum is located in Tongzhou District at Majuqiao inside Jinqiaohuayuan, and covers an area of 250 square meters. The collection has over 10,000 pieces including articles from the Ming and Qing dynasties and the War of Resistance against Japan. There are special pieces from many regions such as Hebei, Hubei, Shandong, Sichuan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Qinghai provinces. Mr. Cui has also included some pieces of his own design. Exhibitions include crafting processes, a shadow art show, historical records, show props, scripts, and shadow art technology. It is China’s only comprehensive and organized museum dedicated to shadow art history, technique, and performance.