China Dwarfs Shadow Puppet Troupe

A picture made available on 29 January 2013 of Wang Jianling, 20, member of 'Longzaitian' or 'Dragon in the Sky' Shadow Puppet Troupe, smoking a cigarette in his dormitory in Beijing, China 12 January 2013. 'Longzaitian' or 'Dragon in the Sky' Shadow Puppet Troupe consists of close to 50 members who look like children but are actually dwarfs with an average age of 22 and height of 1.26 metres. Formed in 2008, the troupe started out with less than ten members but gradually grew in fame and stature, drawing many other dwarfs from all parts of China who seek to be accepted in a community of their own. The troupe provides training, food, accommodation and income for the members as well as a sense of belonging and pride in their work preserving the ancient art of shadow puppetry. Dwarfs have traditionally been viewed as disabled people in China and are often discriminated by mainstream society. Says Wang Jianling from Hunan Province who just joined the troupe four months ago, 'I used to work in a computer software company but immediately quit my job and came here when I heard about this place. There is always a gap when I am with other normal people because of the height difference and they think of me as a child. Here however, I am with people like myself and I feel very comfortable and we can share our common thoughts and woes.'

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