Little puppeteers add vitality to ancient folk art

Updated: 2014-11-13 15:13

By Jiang Wanjuan(

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Little puppeteers add vitality to ancient folk art

Members of The Little Ants pose for a photo with an official with the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation. [Photo provided to]

We do not usually associate the ancient art form of shadow puppetry with little people, but the two fit each other perfectly in the shadow puppetry performing troupe The Little Ants.

The members of the unique crew are affected by dwarfism. Their average age is 25 and their average height is 1.28 meters. Despite what some might see as a physical disadvantage, they are able to tackle the challenges to acquire the skill and perform in front of big audiences like any other puppeteers.

Li Ming, founder of The Little Ants, said he initially started the troupe to solve the employment problem for little people like himself.

"There are very limited job options for us," he said. "Little people are vulnerable to physical injuries and most of us also did not grow up with a good education."

Like Li himself, most of his team members have previously been engaged in various occupations but none of them ended well.

Founded in 2009, Li's team now has a about 20 puppeteers, and all of them are less than 1.38 meters tall. He set the height as a benchmark to recruit those who have had significant difficulty finding other jobs.

Like most of her colleagues, 23-year-old Yang Suxuan found about The Little Ants two years ago on the Internet. The Shanxi village girl got in touch with Li and decided to join the troupe, which now she calls home.

"I was born like this, and my older sister suffers the same syndrome with me," she said. "I always thought we were the only two unfortunate little people in the world until I found about The Little Ants."

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