Face off

Updated: 2011-10-26 07:56

(China Daily)

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Chinese opera performers either use masks or paint their faces. The frequent on-stage changing of masks, without the audience noticing, is a special technique, known as "changing faces".

Lian Pu

"Personality makeup" refers to facial designs for jing and chou roles, with colors representing emotions, such as white for fear, red for shyness, dark for suntan, and sallow for illness. Great importance is paid to the eyes and eyebrows.

Facial designs for jing roles have basic forms such as the san kuai wa lian (three-section face) and sui lian (fragmentary face) and are used to represent generals, officials, heroes, gods and ghosts.

Chou actors have patches of white in various shapes painted around the eyes and nose. Chou roles have two categories, namely wen chou (civil) and wu chou (martial).

Colors again symbolize various personalities:

Red: Brave, faithful and wise.

Purple: Wise, brave and steadfast.

Black: Upright and outspoken.

Blue: Brave, upright, but obstinate and unruly

Green: Chivalrous but with a feisty attitude.

Yellow: Valiant military men, or crafty civil officers.

White: Insidious and treacherous.

Gold and silver: Mysterious monsters or gods.

Face off