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The Colors of Peking Opera


Make-up is a special art in Chinese operas, especially in Peking Opera, where it distinguishes different roles and reveals their dispositions and moral qualities via artistic exaggeration, truthful portrayals and symbolism.

Of the four roles of Peking Opera --sheng,dan,jingandchou, only thejingandchouroles have elaborate facial make-up called "lianpu."

There are relatively fewlianpupatterns for achourole -- the most common being a white-painted nose for comic relief.Jing lianpupatterns of are much more complicated and varied.


The origin oflianpucan be traced back to the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period more than 1,400 years ago when leading actors used to wear masks. As the operatic arts developed performers gradually took off their masks and painted colorful patterns on their faces instead since it was difficult to show facial expressions behind a mask.

During the heyday of Peking Opera in theQing Dynasty(1644-1911), performers carefully studied facial structures and carefully analyzed the personalities and appropriate facial characteristics of operatic characters. Various colors were used to identify the roles of the performers and to reveal a character's moral and spiritual roles, as well as other defining characteristics.

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