Beijing Opera Facial Masks 京剧脸谱
A: Beijing Opera is the cream of the Chinese culture. As such, it has become a must-see item to entertain foreigners. But I don’t like its shrieking singing and the noisy percussions. I enjoy the costumes and facial masks better.
B: As a traditional art form, Beijing Opera has problems and appealing to day’s theatrer-goers. It is very slow and monotonous. Its costumes and facial masks are more attractive. There is a very distinct Ming Dynasty influence on Beijing Opera costumes. They are colorful and majestic. Two long pieces of white silk at the end of the sleeves create a graceful feeling during dancing. Different styles of costumes are used to reflect the status of different characters. There are more decorations in the costumes of the nobles, while those for the poor tend to be simple and less ornamental.But the same materials are used for all costumes to ensure the desired theatrical presentation. Present-day designers are also borrowing from the Beijing Opera for their work.
A: Facial masks can reflect the qualities of different characters.
B: Facial masks using different colors are important ways to portray a character. There are hundreds of different facial mask designs and each character has its own design. For example, Guan Yu is a very well-known warrior. People believe he had a dark red complexion so his facial mask is painted red because red is a color that represents loyalty and courage.
A: As the folk saying goes, “All red complexion guys are good guys.”
B: The facial mask of Song Dynasty Emperor Zhao Kuangyin depicts a dragon to show his imperial background. Another hero is Yang Qilang. There’s a tiger in his facial mask. The word “tiger” is even written on the forehead to show that he is as courageous as tiger.
A: So colors become an important expression.
B: Yes. people can tell a hero from a villain by the colors of their masks. In general, white usually represents treachery, black represents righteousness, yellow represents bravery, blue and green represent rebellious fighters while gold and silver represent divinity and Buddhism.
A: I didn’t realize that Beijing Opera’s facial masks are so complicated. Although I can’t stand its shrieking singing, I still like to go to a Beijing Opera show. I’ll listen to my MP3 while enjoying the facial masks.
B: Then you can have the best of both worlds.