There is a quintessence of Chinese culture, called facial makeup. Facial makeup was evolved by mask at the earliest time. In ancient China, a mask was used to intimidate the enemy, while it was used to perform in stage afterward. The mask performance appeared in the Northern and Southern Dynasties. Then the facial makeup was taking the place of the mask for opera actors’ convenience. This was how the facial makeup evolved.
Different colors of facial makeup are representing different traits of characters. There are four varieties of characters in Chinese opera, sheng (male role), dan (female role), jing (painted face), chou (clown). In general, the role of jing has usually painted facial makeup.
The Main Colors of Facial Makeup
In that way, what does the facial makeup represent in different colors? The colors of different facial makeup represent different traits of characters. The main colors of facial makeup can divide into nine colors: red face, blackface, white face, blue face, green face, golden face, silver face, purple face, yellow face.
The red face’s traits of characters is the person that the body is fit and knows all the answers. These kinds of people are dedicated and decent. It is the opposite of blackface in Chinese opera and the opposite of a white face in daily life. People are usually using these words to represent a good person in daily life. The classic character of the red face is Guan Yu.
Blackface is a metaphor of the tenacious in people’s traits of characters. This kind of person is integrity, loyal, brave, impartial, and incorruptible. Or someone is rude and reckless. The classic characters of blackface are Bao Zheng, Zhang Fei, and so on.
Whiteface has two types of people, the person is treacherous and the person is a hale and hearty old hero. The classic character of the white face is Cao Cao. While the white face represents a bad person in daily life.
The blue face is the symbol of strong, sincere, and has the spirit of rebellion. Dou Ambassador is the representative personage of a blue face.
The green face is representing the traits of characters of valor, despotic, violent, and irritable. The representative personage of green faces mostly is greenwood heroes, just like Cheng Yaojin.
The golden face is the simple one, it represents the supernatural beings. It expresses the power and royalty in Chinese opera, like Tathagata.
Silver face and golden face are work in concert with each other. The silver face is representing evil and monsters that have supernatural power.
The character of the purple face is resolute and steadfast, the trait is genuinely cool.
The traits of yellowface are brave, battle wise, atrocity, doughty, justice, and scheming.
Every color has its own characteristic, and it could express each actor’s trait so that audience can fully aware of the plot.
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Facial makeup is one of the transformational art in makeup art. The transformation of facial makeup is for expressing the content of Chinese opera more visually, accurately, and directly. Every sculpt and color of facial makeup is not existing in daily life, but it was rooted in life. It is an art that can manifest and exceed life, it can express the good wish deep inside in people’s hearts. The image of facial makeup is enjoyed popular support in the folk. This culture had four thousand years of history in China, it sedimentary deposits the cultural gene and cultural phenomenon during every historical period.