painting a tiger facial mask to celebrate the Spring Festival

BEIJING, Feb. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by on China’s intangible cultural heritage:

“The blue-faced Dourdun steals the imperial horse, the red-faced Guan Gong battles at Shanghaithe yellow-faced Deng Weithe white-faced Cao Caoand the black-faced Zhang Fei letting out a roar of courage“The face painting of traditional Chinese opera is a kind of design for actors’ facial makeup. It is generally applied to two types of roles, Jing (roles with painted face) and Chou (comic roles), in which most of the characters have their own specific style and face color, so as to highlight the traits of the characters. Facial makeup designs features the artistic function of “implying praise and blame, distinguishing good from evil”, so that the audiences can see the appearances and get a glimpse of their minds. Therefore, the face painting is known as the “mental picture” of the character, and is also recognized as one of the marks of traditional Chinese culture.

International students Makala and Sandos from SAO Tome and Principe visited tea studio of the ICH inheritor Zhao Yongqi to experience making a traditional opera facial mask before the eve of the Spring Festival in 2022. As a craftsman and a “keeper” of the art, Zhao wants to pass on this craft and hope that more people will love this precious intangible cultural heritage.

Face painting has a long history and its development is inseparable from the development of traditional Chinese opera. Beijing’s colorful Peking opera face painting originated in the Qianlong Period of the Qing Dynasty, and is a unique makeup technique in Chinese opera art, consisting of two parts: the helmet head and the colorful face painting.

In 1894, a Manchus surnamed GUI, who lived in the Western part of Beijing, saw clay figurines at a temple fair. An idea struck him that he made a clay facial mould, dried it in the sun, and painted it in makeup design of opera characters to make facial masks.Then he gave them to his close friends as gifts. Before long, he became famous in the capital city. As the craftsman Gui was good at making masks of “roles with painted face”, people call him “Master Gui of face painting”.

After the first half of the Qing Dynasty, with the prosperity of Peking Opera in Beijingcolorful Peking Opera facial makeup designs were created and this art entered its prime period during the Tongguang period. The colors of the Peking Opera facial makeup represent the characters’ personalities: red represents loyalty and courage; white represents treachery; black represents straightforwardness; yellow represents pride and composure; blue represents strength and primness; green represents tenacity and chivalry; and gold and silver represent gods, Buddhas and ghosts. One can tell form the color of the makeup pattern whether the character is loyal, treacherous, good or evil.

Under the patient guidance of Mr. Zhao Yongqi, Makala and Sandos made a facial mask for the Year of the Tiger to express their hopes and wishes for the new year. Makala said, “I had only heard of traditional opera facial mask before, but I never thought it would be so interesting.” Sandos also said that she would introduce it to her family and friends.



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