Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

Intriguing Facial Makeup in Peking Opera


The facial makeup is a unique way of portrayal in the traditional Chinese theater. Makeup types number thousands, and different types have different meanings. At an early date, most faces were painted black, red and white. As plays increase in number, opera artists used more colors and lines to paint the faces of characters, to either exaggerate or differentiate, according to Weng Ouhong, a researcher of the classic Chinese theater.

They drew inspirations from classical novels, which portray characters as having "a face as red as a red jujube," "a face the color of dark gold," "a ginger-yellow face," "a green face with yellow beard," "a leopard-shaped head with round eyes," "a lion’s nose" or "broom-shaped eyebrows."

Color patterns painted on the faces of opera characters are called lianpu , or facial makeup. When a character’s face needs to be exaggerated, a makeup type is painted. The most common facial makeup types are jing and chou. Jing is an actor with a painted face and chou is the role of a clown.

1 2 3 4