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Learn Chinese from colors of Peking Opera Facial Makeup

Peking Opera Facial Makeup, colors in Chinese

Have you ever watched Peking Opera? When you enjoy it, do you notice the Peking Opera Facial Makeup (脸谱, liǎn pǔ) of different colors? What are the connotations of different colors?



Red (红色, hóng sè): Generally red is used to indicate righteousness, loyalty and courage, mostly referring to positive roles. In fact, the red "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) was originally used to show the character's skin color. As many roles with red color skin are very gallant and upright, red is used to stand for loyalty and courage, and red "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is designed for the gallant and excellent generals.



Green (绿色, lǜ sè): The green "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is generally used in the brave, reckless and fiery characters, meaning similar to a black one. In addition, the green "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is also seen in some bandit roles.



Blue (蓝色, lán sè): In Peking Opera "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ), the blue and green have the similar meaning, presenting us the tough and straightforward characters, though sinister and cunning figures sometimes.



Black (黑色, hēi sè): Black was also originally used to represent skin color. Due to the highly-praised impartial image of Bao Zheng, who was black skinned, black has been developed into the symbol of a certain personality. The black "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is generally used in the upright and selfless, straightforward and courageous characters.



White (白色, bái sè): White "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is often used to stand for the treacherous villains in Peking Opera, such as Cao Cao with the pinkish white facial makeup in the play of Three Kingdoms, indicating his being cunning and suspicious character. In addition, the hale and hearty old heroes, generals, monks, eunuchs and other roles can also be painted with white "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ).



Yellow (黄色, huáng sè): In Peking Opera, yellow indicates the characters' bravery or brutality, therefore, yellow "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is generally used in the bold and irritable characters.



Purple (紫色, zǐ sè): Purple is the demitint between red and black, generally referring to uprightness, majesty and sense of justice. Some characters in novels or plays are described as purple-faced, so they are given with purple "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ). Sometimes, a purple "脸谱" (liǎn pǔ) is also used in some characters to show their ugly appearance.


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