The use of shadows to amuse and entertain has a very long history. There are records of shadow puppets being used in performances in China and India more than two thousand years ago.

The simplest shadow shows are created by our own hands. They were particularly popular in the 19th Century, when many books were produced illustrating ways of making animals and people appear on a wall, sometimes with the assistance of a few carefully positioned props.

Hand shadows

Here are some hand shadow images. See how you get on with trying to make them for yourself. You'll need a strong light source (a bedside lamp will do fine) and a white or light-coloured wall to act as your screen.




Another popular type of shadow play in the 19th Century was the ombrascope, or white shadow. A white piece of paper is cut out to show a person, whose 'white shadow' is thrown onto a wall when held up to the light. Famous people to appear included Napoleon, Shakespeare and Queen Victoria.

Here is a Sway Presentation teaching you about Shadow Puppets from all around the world!

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