This man makes and sells shadow puppets that he cuts out of ox hide. Shadow puppet plays are performed behind a screen and the characters are back lit to project their silhouettes. This ancient Chinese artform became very popular among the Mongols that conquered and ruled China during the 13th Century. They spread the shadow plays throughout their Empire, which encompassed the largest land mass of any Empire in history. In Turkey shadow puppetry is known as 'Karagoz' or 'Black eye,' and arrived there from China by way of the conquering Mongol hordes.
The puppet I bought from him is a rendition of Zhu Ba Jie, a character from the Chinese epic 'Journey to the West.' The amazing journey of the historical monk Hsuan Zhang, who traveled to India to study Buddhist scripture at the University of Nalanda, eventually took on legendary proportions. Hsuan Zhang made his journey in the 7th Century. By the 17th Century his story had been elaborated to include mythical beasts such as Sun Wu'Kung the monkey and Zhu Ba Jie the pig who acted as his bodyguards during his journey to India.