Homestay Tutors painting peking opera masks!
Today, we will learn about Peking opera – a famous theatrical art form which originated in Beijing! Combining music, singing, acrobatics, dance and spectacular costumes, it is recognised as one of the most exciting performance arts in China. First, we will learn about the history and diversity of Peking opera, before you enjoy a fun activity painting your own opera mask.
History and Culture
Peking opera actually originated from a more ancient opera style, Hui opera from nearby Anhui province, after a famous performing troupe performed in Beijing for the emperor’s 18th birthday in 1790. The style really grew in popularity during the 19th century, fuelled by new innovations in acrobatics. Despite facing challenges during the cultural revolution, Peking opera is still popular across eastern China today!
Compared to western opera styles, Peking opera stands out for its unique characters and staging, along with a focus on visual elements such as acrobatics and costumes. You can find out more about the culture and traditions of Peking opera in this excellent video below by China Matters.
Peking opera masks are a unique feature of traditional costumes. There are four characters – Sheng (main character), Dan (female sidekick), Jing (villain) and Chou (clown). These characters can be easily identified in a Peking opera according to the style of their mask, while different colours are used to represent their personality type.
Having learnt about the history and culture of Peking opera, let’s have a go at painting your own Peking opera mask! If you’re particularly keen, check out the video below for details on how to make your own, moulded papier-mâché mask – or alternatively simply paint your mask design on paper.
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