Shadow Puppets And More Ring In The Lunar New Year At The China Institute

The Year of the Rat is showing real promise at the China Institute, where learning how to make your own shadow puppets for the Lunar New Year is merely one of several reasons to become more involved in all the events the bicultural nonprofit has to offer in 2020.

On January 18 is a thought-provoking deep dive about cultural exchange and clash. Professor Ji Jianxun — who’s traveling across the Pacific from Shanghai Normal University — will tell the story of how ancient Chinese beliefs and rites have guided life for the Chinese people for more than two millennia, with a particular focusing on the centuries of the Ming-Qing Dynasties (1368-1911) when these ancient beliefs were challenged by coming into contact with Western thought and norms. 

Starting on January 23, just a few days before the official start of the Chinese New Year (aka the Spring Festival), and continuing through February 29, “The Art of Chinese New Year” installation will capture all the glitter and hype of the festival. The exhibit will be replete with a multicolored-lantern display, traditional New Year’s eats and a lion dance performance. A showcase on the art of shadow puppetry, spotlighting traditional shadow puppet theater, will inspire kids who want to work on making their own puppet shows. Follow the Institute’s event page for updates about specific workshops

To round out the month, on January 29, don’t miss Lan Yan and Yan Mei, two of the most influential businesswomen in China, in conversation about their personal memories of China’s recent political and social upheavals. Yan, the daughter of Chairman Mao’s Russian translator, who was left to fend for herself at age 10 just after the Cultural Revolution swept the country, has come out with a new memoir about her experiences, “House of Yan: A Family at the Heart of a Century in Chinese History.” And Mei, the daughter of China’s one-time propaganda tsar, who was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution has plenty to share. “Never Defeated: Two Women’s Epic Stories of Struggle and Success in Communist China” starts at 6:30p.