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Dying Art Shadowgraphy of India Hand Gestures

Discover the dying art of "shadowgraphy," most impressive and inspiring way to use our hands in the fashion of puppetry and story telling theatre. Only a few troupes of people in India have perfected this art. 

Homeopaths love to observe people telling their story through hand gestures, but shadowgraphy goes beyond the unconscious movements of the body as the hands become the instrument that records and communicates the drama. 


The viewer, whether child or adult, sits in amazement that our ten fingers, palm, wrist and arms can be transformed into architecture, structures, figures, animals and plants. The artist must learn not only how to form the fingers and hands into a static posture, he must also move into and out of these positions, making the story come alive. These artists draw us in, making the figures believable. We no longer see the instrument of the hands, we actually see the story with all the characters and background. The fluid settings come alive, reminiscent of the beauty of sand art storytelling. 






An integral part of theatre, music adds another layer to carry the tone of the story as the scenes change and transition. 


Compared to cut paper shadowgraphy, I find these living puppets much more impressive, innovative and challenging. Very exacting and precise, every set must be set with a metronome or a drum beat to keep the movement in the rhythm and fit within the time. Most amazing how our minds can get carried away to fairyland and these plays only last a few minutes, yet feel like a very long time.  


Using this form of art for commercial use creates collaboration to invent new forms. And, depth perception coming from pure shadows of black and white boggles the mind.


How do they do it? Very carefully. Very slowly. Very deliberately.





You must read a little about the life story of Albert Almoznino, who made hand shadowgraphy popular in Israel, the United States and other countries. What child did not turn on a flashlight in a moonless night, or during a campfire while lying in the tent and play with their hands to create a dog barking or swan swimming? 


The most intricate and ancient art of shadow puppetry from China documented periods in their history. Rich with poetry, theater, fashion, pottery, lacy paper cuttings and many cultural arts, paper puppetry entertained the masses and the elite. 



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