Puppetry is a form of theatre in which the main characters of stage performances are puppets, marionettes, shadows or other similar figures. Ancient Indian and Chinese literary sources, dating back to approximately the beginning of the current era, appear to refer to the use of puppet figures for religious and funerary rituals. Moreover, several legends and myths are based on the symbolic projection of a shadow. Such elements do not however allow us to establish precisely the geographical and historical origin of this form of theatre which, since ancient times, has narrated the stories of men, gods and heroes through an immediate and sensory language. In its diverse national forms, puppetry in the East generally possesses significant cultural value and is performed during a variety of private events such as weddings, public feast days and religious holidays. It is often accompanied by music and can be classified according to several different techniques. Shadow puppet performances use flat, cut-out, decorated figures made of leather or cardboard. These are projected onto a translucent, backlit screen creating the visual effect of moving images. It is a very ancient form of entertainment and is mainly found in southern India, China, Indonesia (Java and Bali), Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey. Oriental shadow theatre reached southern Italy in the 17th century and spread to Europe – especially France - after the mid-18th century.