‘Journey to the West: Trouble in Heaven’

The asymetrical embroidered calligraphy ‘toile’ dress are composed with lines excerpted from Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater’s 80-year-old adpated scripts ‘Journey to the West: Trouble in Heaven’ *. Fragment of the lines are embroidered word by word onto the canvas, as if hand written with brush and ink. By layering, I want to show the unique ‘ecriture’ of the Theater’s heritage, the ideas, the beginning, the roots of the play, the beauty and the dynamic nature of hand written Chinese characters. The look is a gambit following the other 9 looks from the collection ‘Puppet Shadow Play’.

‘The Jade Unicorn on Mount Jindou’

Imagery of the stills from Tung-Hua’s shadow puppet play ‘Journey to the West: The Jade Unicorn on Mount Jindou’ * is duplicated, mirrored, cut and patched to create this oversized suiting silhouette. By placing strategically the two leading roles, Monkey and Jade Unicorn with its gradient lighting, I want to simulate the scene of chasing, running, jumping and fighting.

‘Legend of the White Snake’

The characters from the adapted Chinese mythology ‘Legend of the White Snake’ (1627), a scene of the lovers sitting face to face are printed on light gauze and placed in between the mesh.
The floral is adapted from decoration on the ‘dan’ (female role) puppet.
The outfit is made of six layers of beige tone gauze mesh which imitates the oxidized cowhide used in traditional puppet carving. By placing embroidered floral in front and behind the translucent material, putting the clear and the blurred on the same page to create unique poetic visual illusions.

‘The Vase and The Side Table’

Pixelated still life decoration from Tung-Hua’s‭ ‬’Legend of the White Snake’ shadow puppet play is translated into knitted jacquard tank top and shorts‭.

‘Sheng’ (male role)

Ecru hand crocheted mesh tank top imitates the hollow carving of the puppets. The knitted relief jacquard floral trousers and the red contouring of the edges was adapted from the decoration commonly found on ‘sheng’(male role) shadow puppet.

‘Dan’ (Female role)

This asymmetrical Hand Crochet dress is inspired by the ‘Dan’ (female role) puppet’s form, construction and its decoration. It is crocheted with gauze mesh cut in stripes to form ‘yarns’, an analogy to the rawness and thickness of the cowhide used in carving shadow puppets. Deconstructing, overlapping each piece and mounted together, it has an armor-ish aspect when put onto the body. It took about 8 weeks to complete the dress.

‘Wu Sheng’ (Martial role)

The model is wearing a bordeaux tone translucent organza dress styled with faded effect leather vest. The silhouette is inspired by the ‘Wu Sheng’ (martial role) shadow puppet.

‘Muo’ (The elder)

The round necked jacket and the shorts are embroidered with sequins on layers of translucent ecru gauze mesh. The red, green, yellow and black are most commonly used in traditional shadow puppet coloring. The rounded sequins create this elevated, chic scales armor outfit. The covered and the uncovered parts of the body is a play with the eyes. The decorations are adapted from Tung-Hua’s ‘Muo’ (elder) character, often a respected male character in the plays.

‘Chou’ (Clown)

7 black-lined engraved shadow puppets characters from Tung-Hua theater form the tank top. The soft gauze mesh fabric was hand cut into ‘yarns’ to embroider onto one layer of the fine mesh. It took 250 hours of embroidery work to complete the piece. Front middle is the ‘Chou’ (Clown) character. There are also ‘Sheng’ (male role), ‘Dan’ (female role), ‘Jing’ (painted face) and ‘Muo’ (older men) characters with their decorative headpieces.

The Vermillion Bird, ‘Wu Dan’ (Martial female role)

The model is carrying the Vermillion Bird from the character Wu Dan’s (martial female role) mount. The Vermilion Bird is a mythological spirit creature of the Chinese constellations that represents the Fire element. The bird is covered in feathers and sequins (which is its armor). The making of the look took approximately two hundred hours.