Shadow puppets are made of stretched, dried cowhide, the required outline drawn freehand onto the leather and pared out, after which holes are carefully punched in designated areas to allow back light (traditionally from a burning coconut shell) to shine through onto a plain screen. Once cut and punched, the figures are painstakingly painted using natural black and red dyes under the strict supervision of the puppet master. Two sorts of puppet are produced: sbaek thom and sbaek toich (literally “large skin” and “small skin”). The sbaek thom, used to tell stories from the Reamker, are the larger of the two, around 1–2m tall, and lack moving parts. By contrast, sbaek toich puppets have moveable arms and legs, and are commonly used to tell folk tales and stories of everyday life, usually humorous and with a moral ending. Both types are manipulated from below using sticks attached to strategic points.

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