The Shadow Puppets – A Magical World Brought to Life Through Tradition

  It rained for a few days, and Wu Dong’s mother’s eyelids twitched for a few days. It’s okay when I’m busy, but when I’m idle, my head twitches a few times, which disturbs my mood like a gray cloud in the sky, rolling back and forth, but it never clears up.
   Gu Li knew that she was thinking about it, so she persuaded her, saying don’t think about it, my brother is already on the way. Wu Dong’s mother glanced at her, her face was as stiff as a white curtain, and she said don’t mention your elder brother, my left eyelid twitched just now, but when you said it, my right eyelid seemed to be tied by a thread.
   Aunt Li pursed her lips and agreed, that’s right, that’s right, she must float around in high places.
   Wu Dong had never seen a thread holding his eyelids before, so he stuck his head out from behind the curtain to look around. A slap flew over the head, and there was a muffled slap. Before she covered her head, Wu Dong’s mother was already roaring, did her fingers grow on the soles of her feet? How many times have I said it, the hand catches the eye movement.
   Li Gu frowned, and said don’t make things difficult for Dong Zai, his finger tendons are as strong as black hooves, and he can’t hold the exquisite job of the play god master. Wu Dongma glanced at her, and her voice was softer: Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to. Li Gu untied the lock between her brows, smiled sarcastically, and said in a low voice, I beg you.
   Wu Dong’s mother withdrew her eyes and threw them to Wu Dong again, as if she wanted to pick out the light from the shadows. Udon’s shoulder and elbow joints were as stiff as a leather puppet, and the strings in his hands were twisted into knots. After a long time of fuss, Wudong Ma sighed, twisted her body, and said firmly, don’t even think about it, then bent down and took fine tea leaves, mint, young mugwort leaves, mulberry leaves, fennel, bitter thorns, kale, and garden Put the incense into the tooth bowl and pound it with a hammer and mortar.
   The shadow of the sun was still growing, thinking about it or thinking about it, Gu Li didn’t say anything, but she had already picked up the chisel knife in her heart, cutting and thinking secretly.
   Wudong’s mother noticed that Gu Li was sticky to the belt and bone, so she put the burden on her mouth. The teacher passed it on to the master, but lost the skill of building bridges and matching strings; the master was awake, and passed it on to my master, but missed the playbook. Further down the teaching, only the four major operas were passed on orally. In Wudong’s generation, they couldn’t even sing the opening scene. While speaking, he grinded the bunch of green into a pulp, scooped out a spoonful of salt and poured the freshly boiled water into the tooth bowl. A puddle of matcha green floated up, and the fine foam turned white, and the dryness in my heart was only half relieved.
   The abacus in Li Gu’s stomach crackled. She held her phone, pulled down the menu from the desktop with her fingers, and clicked on the flashlight. Like the spotlight on the stage, the beam of light pierced the skin through.
   Mama Wudong poured cooked peanuts, sesame seeds, and fried rice into a small bowl, still nagging. There were also eight or nine people in the old Jixiang Banpai in its heyday, and they didn’t go anywhere in Shangtian, Hudong, Jiazi, Jieshi, Haotou, and Xipi—at the farthest time, Shantou also passed by. It starts in the first month, only in March, and it continues all year round. Now only this sister class is left. I can’t stand it. If Wu Dong doesn’t learn any more, his skills will be covered with green fungus.
   Gu Li sips the Leicha, tsk tsk her mouth, it’s a bit thick. Leaning back, leaning on the back of the plastic chair, his fat belly was spread out in a pile, his eyes were protruding and he was watching Wudong flying around, holding the life stick in his hand, and the clue was leading the puppet to dangle. If you look at your own shadow more, you will learn to act. Shadows are alive, have emotions, and breathe. The head should always be moving. Immortals, like humans, have life sticks and play sticks. To make a shadow, you must first have skin. The selected leather should be soaked in cold water for three days and cut four times with a knife…
   Wudong’s mother was upset, saying that a shadow is a shadow, what skin are you talking about?
   Aunt Li didn’t answer, she just picked up the cold fried dough and grilled it on the charcoal stove. In just a moment, the deflated fry pile was puffed up again, and there was a sizzling sound of oil bubbles. Wu Dong’s mother was burned so badly that she asked Wu Dong to come out from behind the screen window, added a few more lights, and hid in by herself. Li Gu turned off the flashlight, turned on the player, and played the accompaniment of the Three Immortals. The white cloth curtain sets off the blessing, wealth and longevity. One person is in charge of nine brazes, and the three old immortals are beaming. The sesame seeds on the fried ball turned from white to gray, and there was a burst of burnt aroma. The lamp sweeps to the corner through the shadow cloth, and the fragrance envelops countless shadow puppets, turning the clouds and fog, and the main room becomes like a fairyland.
   Aunt Li caressed the skin paper and murmured in a low voice, would the skin be scraped and cut, would it be a matter of making a living after making a movie?
   Wu Dong doesn’t understand these things, he just thinks that Grandma is boring and Gu Li is boring too. The God everyone worships is also boring. There was no one in the house who could hold him down, and he would lose his temper at every turn.
   God wants to play tricks, no one can do anything about it. After more than ten days of heavy rain and light rain, everything was wet. As soon as the shadow box was opened, there was a cloud of moldy smell. The box full of gods turned black into little ghosts, so Aunt Li had no choice but to light a charcoal stove and invite out one by one to serve. The pompoms twirled and dusted off the gray and green spots, letting them smoke and burn some incense from a distance. Wrinkled ones should also loosen their muscles and bones, and iron them before drying them. When the box was empty, the gods who fell into the mortal world became more alive, and they were much more beautiful and stable. The first few standing in the corner have already come alive. Dragon King, Nezha, Third Prince, Scholar, Young Lady, Old Monk… It was as if the brightness of the mobile phone accidentally slipped to the top bar, suddenly saturated and gorgeous, and the color could no longer be restrained, and they all wanted to talk.
   Aunt Li looked at the table, the cow looked coldly, the chicken crooked its neck and died. These need to be cut. She untied the lifestick, played with the stick, and removed the nails. Heads, legs, feet, tails, and chicken feathers were scattered all over the table. Dong Zai, go, get those pieces of leather from the rattan box, it’s rare for Aunt Li to hold her voice. She handed over a pile of leftover skins, and she lowered her voice a few minutes. The thin and bright ones are for the head, chest, and abdomen, the thick and dark ones are for the legs and feet, and the colorful ones can be used for animals. The thinnest piece, after engraving and applying the right color, sweats again, and the leather doll is white and tender, with aura.
   Wu Dong’s eyes were fixed on the table, his throat rolled up and down. Aunt Li cheered up, and picked up the conversation that had just been interrupted—cut four times with a knife. After cutting, wash with clean water until it becomes transparent. Of the sixty catties of fur, only four or five catties are left. The oozing parchment has to be stretched tightly, and it is hung on a wooden frame to dry in the shade. When it is completely dry, it can be used as a shadow. She was proud of herself, but she saw that Wu Dong’s eyes were fixed on the charcoal stove, and as she followed along, she unwillingly squeezed the glowing frying pile over.
   The leather was afraid that it was going to rot in the box, so Aunt Li caressed the stump of the severed tail, and stopped and went with the carving knife. Wudong’s mouth was filled with the aroma of sesame seeds, and his mind wandered around with the blade.
   When will dad come back?
   Your dad will be here soon.
   Then when will he leave again?
   Shh, don’t let your grandma hear you.
   The sky light came in through the glass windows, Gu Li leaned over to look around, the rain had stopped. The clouds hadn’t cleared yet, the sky was black and green, and the wind was blowing swayingly. Taking advantage of the light, Aunt Li squinted the goldfish’s eyes into slits, tapped the clam powder on it, and the bull’s eyes became a puddle of blisters. Wu Dong took a bite of a crisp smile, the corners of his mouth turned up only three or two times, and the coughing behind the video window was smoothed out; he quickly stuffed the rest into his mouth, and ate another bowl of Lei Cha. When the mouth of the bowl covered the face, the sun had already revealed its true colors, and the room was brightly lit.
   Wu Dong’s mother still couldn’t finish it, put ten fingers on her chest, and came out as if playing the piano.
   The main room is brightened. Li Gu stood up and opened the door and window to breathe. There was a gust of wind, and the charcoal stove became proud, dancing and dancing, and once the wind passed, it was downcast again. When Wu Dong walked outside the door, the distant mountains had only been washed by the rain, and they were dyed dark green and verdant, making him dazzled and fascinated. Walking a few steps forward, out of the surrounding house, the tranquility after the rain diffuses from the fragrance. Wu Dong took a deep breath, stretched his nasal cavity, and relaxed his whole body. The bamboo frames of two new homes in Puwei in the distance have been dismantled, the one near the stream has been made into a tiger, and the one standing in the middle of the paddy field has been made into a four-point gold. The new house and the old house are square-headed and square-headed, as if there are shadow boxes and rattan boxes scattered at the foot of the mountain. Once opened, people become immortals.

   The sun showed its face drowsily, and then retracted. The sky is gray and white, like an endless shadow curtain, surrounded by mountains, rivers and villages. Udon is also in it. He felt like he had been tricked. In the mud ridges and water wells, under the scattered straw hats that bend over and straighten up, everything moves one by one. The birds in the sky don’t flap their wings, they slide from left to right, and their postures don’t change. The scarecrows in the fields were getting thinner and thinner, and their air was gone. The heavy rain and light rain drenched them into wooden strips. They were only tied with red, blue plastic belts on the top, and they stretched when there was wind. If there was no wind, they were like rope whips.
   Wu Dong remembered that every time his father came back, he said that he was very close to God, floating in the sky. Wu Dong asked Abba if he was pretending to be a fairy. When Grandma heard this, she immediately poohed, clasped her hands together, and quickly said that there is no taboo in her mouth, with a pious look on her face. Wu Dong knew that he had said something bad, and he was afraid that his father would really drift away. Every time he goes back and forth, it’s like turning on the gong, coming and going in a hurry; even if he can really float, he must float back to the house. For some reason, Dad, like a moldy shadow puppet, is always darker than the last time I saw it. Just as Wu Dong was thinking, grandma called out from inside the house. He turned around and walked quickly, raised his legs and entered the room, not daring to make any movement, for fear of shocking the fairies all over the place.
   I spent my mind wandering all day, only to play “Moving Immortal” for you, and I didn’t even watch it. Wu Dongma finally put down her fingers, the corners of her mouth clearly wanted to say that the rotten skin would not be able to enter the shadow window, but her eye sockets were dimmed.
   Tch, your puppets and shadows are not as good as Dad’s. Wu Dongxin was also wandering.
   Dongzai is still young. Aunt Li was pinning up the bull’s head, and tried to excuse Wu Dong.
   I’m still young, and I’m about to graduate from junior high school in a blink of an eye. Wudong’s mother became emotional, and couldn’t stop her voice, sighing and sighing. When I was so old, I and the old Jixiang masters dragged the leather monkey box to play around the town. It was so beautiful at that time, Zhengzi, Baizi, Xiqin, all kinds of operas had to be played by shadows before they dared to speak. However, in the past 20 or 30 years, the class cards have been scattered. Those old auspicious people who can set up white curtains are all here.
   Seeing that she was going to gossip about Dong Zai again, Aunt Li quickly changed the subject, saying that no one learned how to play movies, so the skinny ones would suffer too? Half of the skin that was peeled at the beginning of the year is still left. She originally wanted to persuade others, but as soon as she said a word, she also felt sad, and simply put down the chicken head in her hand, feeling that she was not as angry as when she put it on.
   Wu Dong’s mother stopped talking, leaned over to the shadow box, and took out a yellow talisman from the side, and folded it into a square tube. Stretching one end into the charcoal stove, the blue flame danced, and then retracted, turning it around carefully to let it burn evenly. When the flames approached the fingers, they were lightly released, and a few pieces of ashes floated up, and were blown away by the gust of wind before flying to the beam. She had a solemn face, her palms were closed, and her ten fingers were interlaced. Only the fingers were exposed, and she pinched a formula to invite the gods, and she muttered something in her mouth:
   Liu Ding Liu Jia, Nineteen Ding Kai, I am fighting Qianyuan in the South today, the Seven Stars of the Big Dipper, Qianyuan The moon is the real thunder, the command of the commander-in-chief, and the command of the king of heaven… hurry as an order, hurry as an order.
   Invite the leather monkey box out to do the ritual of moving the immortals, you must be calm and calm. Aunt Li wanted to put on a chicken head indiscriminately, but was caught by Wudong’s mother’s old rules, so she was much more careful with the carving knife she held. Snowflake carving, brush thread, and knife skills have long been unfamiliar. She suddenly remembered the family-handed formula for making chicken heads—carve the head first, then shave the face, and then carve the comb and tip. Yes, the bone joints should be straightened up, otherwise the shadows made will be like chicken soup. But the copper of the beak, the silver vermilion of the crown and wattle, the blue of the corn, these materials for coloring are becoming more and more difficult to find.
   My brother doesn’t even take his own chisel knife, but wants to be in the hands of Lao Jixiang. Otherwise, how could the leather craftsmanship fall into my hands? Aunt Li complained in a low voice.
   Ha, there are so many shadow classes, who told him to stay in Laojixiang? Udon’s mother was proud.
   Isn’t it just asking him to send his shadow to the class once? The raw cowhide can’t be pulled back, it just wants to go out. Aunt Li didn’t stop.
   He also thought that the shadow curtain of Lao Jixiang was not wide enough, so he went to Shenzhen again. Now every time he goes up and down the rope, it is my heart that lifts the rope. Wu Dong’s mother’s face became distressed again.
   Oh, sister-in-law, isn’t my eldest brother also settling down now? In two years, you and Dongzai will also go there. Aunt Li was relieved.
   I don’t want to go, what should I do with the boxes in the house? The last time I heard that the shadows in the Double Happiness class were spotted and cracked, and they were all out of shape. It’s hard to get together to play, and they will go their separate ways after finishing. Wudong’s mother added a piece of whole charcoal to the stove, and turned the speaker.
   That’s right, when autumn came, Huangye Village was under fire, and a box of heavenly soldiers and generals burned up in the blink of an eye–I haven’t been asked to make a new shadow body until now, and Gu Li is dragging around.
   While my sister-in-law was tugging, the wind sneaked in again, causing the fire to twist and turn.
   “Go, move all the shadow bodies to the gate to pass the east wind.” Wudong’s mother called, “Remember it, don’t miss any one.” This will be ready soon, Li Gu handed the cow to Wudong,
   and Grate the needle on the top of the head, trying to attach the chicken head. With a crack, the thimble dropped a half-black, half-white hair.
   Counting the time, Wu Dong’s mother turned and went to the kitchen. Gu Li’s chicken head was also worn out, so she handed it to Wu Dong and followed her in to help. Turn on the fire and burn the oil, sizzling; the chopping board with the knife head jingles. The smoke from the fireworks floated out and rose on the surrounding house. This meal tonight is the most soothing.
   There are sixty or seventy people in a pair of shadow boxes, and two hundred people in three boxes. Going back and forth more than ten times, the same as in the morning, the corners in front of the door are lined up in two rows. There are everything imaginable: front and back king hats, handsome helmets and scarves, treasure bags, Juyi Hall, and civil and military Xiaodans, gods and ghosts, all with one-eyed sideways, staring at Wudong. The hue seems to have been smoothed, the dark green has turned into green, the purple has turned into vermilion, and the courtyard has become brighter. After moving, Wu Dong sat down, whirring, panting like Monkey King blowing monkey hair.
   The light and shadow reflect the three worlds, what a fairy tale.
   The sun had sucked up the clouds, and there was only half of it left. When people were not paying attention, they fell headfirst and went down to the other side of the mountain. Mom and Aunt Li chattered from far to near. The tearing of the two shadows in front of Wudong also slowed down. The tiredness was stronger than the Lei Cha just now. The eyelids opened and closed, dangling. Drowsiness surged.
   Before Wu Dong closed his eyes, he vaguely heard the noise behind the shadow window. He suddenly remembered that there were still three old immortals who hadn’t moved out to dry, so he shivered. Don’t think about it, there is no way, these three can’t neglect. Standing up desperately, there seemed to be a piece of gauze in front of him. He floats by. A hot flame crackled in the charcoal stove.
   There is no fixed number of high and low life waves for people on the beach, and they have to worship all gods. If you worship more, you will have a temper. In the movie class, Fu, Lu and Shou have the biggest tempers. They must be the first to start a regular show. The stick and thread should be carried gently, and they should be coaxed with witty words. Don’t be impatient when you start to move, you have to make a few warm voices to catch the good mood of the immortals. Fu Lu Shou is happy, and no one is unhappy. Blessings from heavenly officials, increasing officials and promoting titles, Songhe prolonging the year… As soon as the Jibu Xilian is pulled away from their hands, the proprietor will distribute auspicious money. At this time, mortals and immortals have gods.
   Wudong’s mother kept talking about Liuding Liujia, and wanted to confess. It started but couldn’t remember the end, all those lying behind the shadow window looked at him pitifully, red and green, as if they hadn’t had enough incense. Turn over and prepare to move.
   Boom, boom, boom, drums sounded out of nowhere. Wu Dong shivered violently, and was knocked into the video window by the sound of drums. Fu Lu Shou turned his back on him. They didn’t turn around, but walked backwards, forcing Wu Dong to have nowhere to escape. They dragged him with a string. Wu Dong struggled to break free, his head was covered with sweat. After talking nonsense, I realized that my hands were also holding the lifelines of the immortals, and with all my strength, Fu Lu Shou scattered all over the ground. Please go out before the night wind blows. The moon was poking its head out, as bright as if it had been painted by Li Gu, hanging on the mountain side. The sky is oozing dark blue, and the shadows of trees are scattered all over the place. There seemed to be a dog barking at Pukou, but it stopped soon. Wu Dong walked out of the house and raised his hand to build a pergola. The outline of the mountain can still be seen, and the shadow of the mountain has extended to the front of the house. The bend in front of the ping is a slope. It used to be a slope full of Prunella vulgaris, with golden cherry seeds dotted in the middle. I can’t remember when gravel and waste wood were placed in a mess, and no one tried to clean it up. A black shadow floated over, I couldn’t see it clearly, but I recognized it. Just as he was hesitating, the black shadow had already entered the surrounding house. Wu Dongfei ran over and hugged Hei Ying, jumping with excitement. Hei Ying bent down to pick up Wu Dong, and wanted to spin it around, but he couldn’t hold it anymore, so he had to put it down and pat his head. In a trance, the dream was pieced together, but he just kept calm and didn’t want to wake up, as if he was waiting for something to wake him up.

   Udon was awakened by the fragrance. First there were a few whispers, and then the aromas rushed into the nose in groups. Wudong was greedy for the aroma, opened and closed his nose, couldn’t stand it any longer, straightened up, and saw the steaming hot food. There are more bulging packages in the hall, and square gift boxes are piled up in front of the monkey in the corner. The food is already on the table. White porridge mixed with salt, glutinous rice pockets, pork intestines, vegetable buns, oil-baked eels, and steamed shrimps are all favorites of Wudong’s father. Dad, Mom, and Aunt Li are sitting and talking. I haven’t seen my dad for a long time, he’s a little thicker, a little stooped. Not much has changed. Wu Dong’s mother was wronged and said a few words to complain. Aunt Li just asked questions, smiling like a full moon.
   The dusk is too short in Zoumapu, the sea breeze is wrapped in a coldness, and you can’t see it in a flash in Puping.
   There was a rare wasp chrysalis wine on the table, and the glass in front of Wudong’s father had bottomed out. Wu Dong leaned over, and Dad grabbed him, laughed, and then told Mom and Li Gu about the new things brought back from Shenzhen. Father is back, God is also merciful. The hanging moon is clear, and there will always be a few sunny days. It is rare to have so many voices around the dining table. It was also rare for Wu Dong to listen to what the adults said. The buildings are taller than the mountains in front of Zouma Po, the roads are wider than Lingxi during the flood season, and the road lamps are brighter than lantern fish at night… There are a lot of conversations, but less food.
   When the night breeze picked up, Wudong Ma and Li Gu took the bowls and chopsticks back to the kitchen, and before they turned on the tap, they exchanged their heads together. Wu Dong’s mother was obviously happy, her face was flushed, she couldn’t hide her joy no matter what. Wu Dong felt that Mom and Dad became interesting all of a sudden.
   Wudong’s father sat on a bamboo chair by the patio and smoked leisurely. When the moon was at its fullest and the night dew was about to rise, he extinguished the cigarette, and after tossing and turning in the shadow box for a while, he took out the fairy-receiving talisman, lit it, and without reciting the mantra, he called Wu Dong and told him to clean it up. Fairies all over the place.
   Wudong’s father was obviously a little drunk, and his legs and feet were shaking in circles as if being dragged by a pole. Seeing Wu Dongshi’s persistence, he also stood up and imitated the shadow puppet’s drunken step and dance in the courtyard. He didn’t turn around, but walked backwards, back and forth seven or eight times, which made Wu Dong couldn’t help but follow suit. When he was tired from dancing, the two of them persuaded and coaxed one to move back. The gods who had inhaled the yang energy finally turned back to the Fengshui treasure chest, and Wu Dong also sat down to rest. Seeing that his father was proud, he went over to ask.
   Dad, what are you doing outside?
   Uh, it’s also playing with a rope to pull a monkey.
   Are there monkeys in Shenzhen?
   Hanging from a tall building, someone is carrying a life stick.
   What’s it like there?
   The white cloth curtain is wide enough, but the shadow of the sun is thick and short.
   Dad, when are you leaving?
   Not going this time.
   Really, Dad’s skins are all in the enclosure, and as soon as the life line is closed, Ying will come back.
   Hmm, when my grandma moved to Xian, she said that she was the best at accepting Xian Yi.
   Pa, Wudong’s father lit another cigarette. Cigarette looks like a sun emerging from the dark clouds, and whenever he thinks about it, he will come out and show his face.
   The night was dew, the moonlight poured down the courtyard, and the shadows of the trees shattered into copper coins.

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