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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peking Opera

Peking Opera, reputed as Chinese national opera, is rated as one of the top 3 quintessence of Chinese culture. It is noted for Chinese elements, mixing unfolding stories, beautiful paintings, exquisite costumes, graceful gestures and martial arts together in one perform. Bear sth. in common with Western opera? Maybe or maybe not.
female roles in Peking Opera

Peking Opera has enjoyed a history of about 200 years, the main melodies of which originated from Xipi and Erhuang in Anhui and Hubei respectively, in the process of its development, it also merge techniques from some other local operas. During the time when Emperor Qianlong is on the rein, Peking Opera acquires the fastest advancement. Mostly performed on stage in the open air, teahouses or temple courtyards, Peking Opera became more accessible to the commons.

Musical instruments to accompany the sing and action are mostly percussion instruments, including castanets, drums, bells and cymbals as well as orchestral instruments, like Erhu, Huqin, Yueqin, Sheng (reed pipe), Pipa (lute), etc.

When enjoy Peking Opera, to tell the truth, it is not the sing or the movements I prefer, but the exquisite facial makeups and lavish costumes I like best.

Patterns on their faces are representations of the characters' roles, to explain briefly, a red face usually depicts heroic bravery, uprightness and loyalty; a white one a sinister, treacherous and guile character while a green one surly stubbornness, impetuosity and lack of self-restraint. It is Interesting to see different colors and patterns depicting characteristics voicelessly.

If only have you enjoyed a Peking Opera, no matter from TV, or on stage, I am sure the lavish costumes leave you deep impression. A complete costume of a performer contains Toukui, aka opera headdress: crown, helmet, hat and scarf; dresses (about 20 kinds): the ceremonial robe, or Mang; the informal robe, or Pei; and the armor, or Kao, for soldiers; opera shoes and boots. You can distinguish a character's sex and status at the first glance of their headdress, robes, shoes and baldrics.

Let's have a test: I've talked too much above, now can you figure what this mask represent in Peking Opera? 

Well, I still have much to say about Chinese Beijing Opera, while it seems I’ve already write too much today, I have to stop to do my work, or my boss would be angry and my poor purse wouldn’t be happy at the end of this month. :D)


  1. Fantastic colored pictures, thanks for's very nice.


  2. When I was in the Chinese Opera, I enjoyed the costumes but could not understand a thing of the show.


  3. To tell the truth, sometimes, even i myself cannot fully grasp the idea of their lyrics(maybe we can say so), while since the opera usually draw materials from traditional Chinese legend or story, it is not that difficult for me to guess what they want to show. Maybe you can surf the Internet to study the story before going into the theatre, there are definitely some English versions. Try to download a piece of opera and enjoy it again :D)

  4. Seriously, I have not been into an Opera ! When I was in Beijing few years ago, I want to visit but my students so busy on the studies so I miss it. It will be amazing to see a life Opera !

  5. Well, it is a pity that nobody gives an answer to the question 'what the mask represent', anyway, i have to announce the answer: the righteous ones. Did you make a right?