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Living in the Shadows

The light shines out under the curtain of night, and as we approach, it gets brighter and stronger, just like the music and singing from the same source. We finally see what it is - a translucent cloth illuminated by a single bulb, a canvas for the colorful silhouettes of cut-out figures acting out the story of how the folk hero Zhu Yuanzhang rose from his peasant roots and overthrew the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and then founded the Ming empire. Despite runny noses from the frigid cold, members of the audience sit cross-legged on the frozen earth in front of the stage, entranced by the performance. In Huaxian county, Shaanxi province, where it all began more than 2,000 years ago, shadow puppetry is still very much a part of most any important occasion in village life - be it birth, death or marriage. The performance in front of us, for example, commemorates a funeral. For puppeteer Wei Jinquan, the sadness is doubled. He buried his father, shadow puppet master singer Wei Zhenye only four days ago. The senior Wei was 81, and among those who had gathered to perform in his honor was his son.

Taiwan's Ma wins tight re-election race

Sunday News

Wen embraces 'good neighbor' Nepal

KATHMANDU - China and Nepal pledged to further relations as Premier Wen Jiabao wrapped up an official visit to the Himalayan nation on Saturday.

S&P downgrades nine European countries

Sunday Profile

Sunday Special

Taishan's one-man show

The show starts and gongs and drums sound backstage. Other instruments join the chorus, each different but all in harmony. The shadow puppets appear next, and fierce fighting and acrobatic moves earn applause from the audience.

Notes from backstage

Sunday Expat

Voice of Romania

Mugur Ciugancan (you can call him "Wei Hua") stands out in the Four Seasons, a quiet Japanese restaurant near Beijing's Solana mall. The handsome young Romanian pop singer has just settled into a cozy booth after a week of rehearsal and recording for CCTV's upcoming Spring Festival show, Songs and Smiles. A bit weary and eager to relax, he still seems to contain a disproportionate amount of the energy in the room. His body is constantly in motion: He talks with his hands, points to the choicest items on a menu he knows well, and waves at passing members of the restaurant staff. A decade ago, Ciugancan was riding an early wave of foreigners who made a place for themselves in China by taking the stage and singing in both Mandarin and their home language. The fedora-topped singer had plenty of confidence back then - the 18-year-old had already recorded two albums in Romania and had been singing on Romanian TV for a year.

London ready to bring 2012 Games to China

Sunday Image

Micro worlds

The 18th-century English poet William Blake once wrote "to see a world in a grain of sand". It is probably metaphysical for many people, but it's no exaggeration for Zhang Chao, a Beijing-based micrograph enthusiast.

Sunday Sports

Neville: Scholes can go on for two more years at Man U

MUMBAI - Paul Scholes should play on beyond this season after a shock return from retirement that has saved Manchester United a fortune in the January transfer window, according to the club's ex-captain Gary Neville.

Rose has 25 on return, Bulls top Celtics 88-79

Tevez could play for City again - Platt

Score Board

IN BRIEF (Page 7)

It's open season

Marvelous Melbourne

On the rise

The week that was

Sunday Life

Latin migration is shifting to the south

Throughout Mexico and much of Latin America, the old migratory patterns are changing.

Greeks Go Back to the Land

Truth telling in the digital age

Science and Technology

Quakes increase drilling concerns

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Until last year, this city and the surrounding county had been seismically dead since Scots-Irish settlers arrived in the 18th century.

Reserving flights to space, including travel insurance

Stradivarius fails to prevail in a sound test

Lifestyle Trends

All-American spirit takes flight

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - Bourbon, a singularly American spirit, is undergoing a boom. At a time when many American industries are struggling, distillers here are cashing in on an American renaissance in whiskey-based cocktails, as well as a growing thirst for bourbon around the world.

On N.Y. menus, some specialties are outsourced

Arts and Styles

A Californian finds fame with funk in Rio's slums

NOVA IGUACU, Brazil - The train to this city on Rio de Janeiro's edge carries passengers from the urban underclass chasing dreams big and small: teenagers trying out for a soccer club, a maid studying to be a nurse.

A dance pioneer, hailed and hated

In India, a tiny car for rickshaw drivers

Sunday Style

Fashion chef

'I've been baking my whole life. I'd just never done it professionally," said Charlotte Neuville, the fashion designer who has launched a new business called The Fashion Chef.

Runway to Win: Fashion designers rally round Obama

Sunday Food

Eating Organic, Cooking Organic

Christian Hoffman lives near the China World Trade Center, but he cycles to the 798 Arts district in East Chaoyang for work. He believes in an eco-friendly lifestyle, and he cooks and eats that way as well.

Yunnan's little black pig by the Angry River

Sunday Kaleidoscope

A rose by any other name

Huang Ying is better known as Ying Huang, the name on her Facebook page as well as her official website. And, the coloratura soprano from China is also well known from her various roles in opera.

From Inner Mongolia to New York

Russian ballet ushers in spring

City guide

Sunday Travel

View from the top

One of the best ways to see India is from its rooftops. No crowds, just a quiet, comfortable space from which to watch that amazing world go by.

Departure gate

Airline news and deals