In our history, there were “four big beauties”---Xi Shi, Wang Zhaojun, Diao Chan, Yang Yuhuan. They lived in different times respectively. Every person had their own typical love story, which were all related to politics. The come-off of the “four big beauties” has also become the most widely spread folk classical love story. Stories of four big beauties and sinking fish, falling geese, outshining the moon and putting flower to shame:
During the Spring and Autumn period there was an extremely pretty girl named Xi Shi in the ancient state of Yue. One day she was washing the yarns beside the river. Her shadow seemed very attracting on the surface of the clear river. The fishes in that river forgot to swim when they caught the sight of her beautiful shadow and sank down to the bottom of the river. Thus Xi Shi's new name “ making swimming fish sink” was popular from then on.
Characteristics: small and exquisite shape, refined and delicate carving, distinct and fresh color. The forehead is particularly protruding, generally called “Ya Lu”(precipice forehead). Plump forehead indicates wit and talent of the character, making it look vigorous, sagacious, or passionate. Each grace and verve has its strong point.
Traditional Xi’an shadow play was originally the entertainment of “palace, great family, rich house” halls. The audiences were noble minority of officials, magnates and great men. Therefore, the shapes tended to be small. The stature is about 33 centimeters.
The carving of shadowgraph requires super middle-size cowskin. Through the working procedure of soaking, scratching and shoveling, it is made into semitransparent skin. It will be finished by the further process of polishing, copying, carving, coloring, gluing, ironing, embellishing, binding.
The wording procedure of shadowgraph can be divided into eight basic steps, skin choosing, skin making, draft drawing, redrawing, carving, color painting, dehydrating, ironing and embellishing.