Opera facial make-up originates from totem in ancient times, develops into facial paintings of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and eventually takes the shape of facial costume of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is a pattern of put-on facial make-up for opera actors and actresses in the stereotype roles of painted face and clown. It plays the artistic functions of implying commendatory and derogatory connotations and differentiating benevolence and malevolence, enabling the audience to get a glimpse of the inner world of actors and actresses through their symbolic facial make-up. In this sense, facial make-up has obtained the reputation as painting of heart and soul.
Beijing Opera Face Up
Opera facial make-up utilizes the color of red, purple, black, white, blue, green, yellow, dark red, gray, golden and silver, with each color representing a unique stereotype character. In general, red symbolizes utter devotion and loyalty; purple embodies fortitude and resourcefulness; black manifests faithfulness and integrity; white implies craft; blue represents valor and vigor; green signifies justice and chivalry; yellow exemplifies cruelty. Dark red is reserved for loyal old generals while golden and silver are used for Buddha, gods, ghosts and demons. Opera facial make-up, as the product of fine artisanship, has become part of the masterpieces in the thousands years of Chinese culture and art.
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