Shadow puppets


Latitude: 15.870032000000
Longitude: 100.992541000000

Timeline of Events Associated with Thailand

Date Event Manage
circa. 1900

Pair of Thai Shadow Puppets, possibly 20th century


Thai shadow puppets are used in both classical and folk theater. There are two types of shadow theater in Thailand: nang talang and nangyai. The size of puppets usually between .75 metres to 1.25 metres. They are made of buffalo or cow hide. Usually the puppets have one articulated arm; clowns typically have two moveable arms. 

The puppet that represents the hero tends to be small with delicate features while the villain puppet tends to be large and unattractive. Puppets who represent gods are always the smallest in size. Clown puppets are ugly and can even have movable chins and genitals, but they are also know to be insightful (much like Shakespeare's fools). 

The puppets are manipulated by puppeteers behind white screens so that they appear as shadows, which makes one wonder why they are so intricately and colorfully painted. A small fire or lamp is used behind the screen, and all of this is managed by single puppeteer who narrates and sings. Four or five musicians accompany the play ("Thailand IX: Theatre," Oxford Art Online, article url:

Example of live shadow puppet show