Mask of the Week

The character Xue Gang from the Chinese opera. From the surprisingly eclectic site of Paul and Bernice Noll. These ‘masks’ are done with face paints.

“A dictum familiar to most Peking opera fans, “No red for the three Gangs,” illustrates how colors represent human character. The three Gangs (Li Gang, Yao Gang, and Xue Gang) were bold and obstinate, but in Peking operas they are portrayed as solemn and serious, so no red is allowed in their facial make-up, not even on their lips, and no pink powder (which symbolizes humor) is applied to their cheeks. By contrast, in operas adapted from the Romance of the Yang Family the cheeks of the two characters Meng Liang and Jiao Zan are powdered pink because these two men are humorous by nature. In Hongyang Cave, however, the two no longer have pink cheeks, for this opera portrays them as old people whose temperaments have changed.”

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