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Home History and Culture Secrets of Mysterious Face-changing
Secrets of Mysterious Face-changing
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

         

Have u watched the Chinese movie King of Masks?
In the movie, Master Wang has a different face for every day and every town. Wearing an odd piece of headgear, Wang (Zhu Xu) can whip a colorful demon-style silk mask across his face within seconds, and then change that visage in an instant.

Actually, face changing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera; it is a magical art. Actors change more than 10 masks in less than 20 seconds! By raising the hand, swinging a sleeve or tossing the head, an actor uses different masks to show different emotions, expressing invisible and intangible feelings through visible and tangible masks. From green to blue, red, yellow, brown, black, dark and gold, these masks show fear, tension, relaxation, slyness, desperation, outrage, and so on.

Secrets of face changing

In the Wiping Mask routine the actor applies cosmetic paint in a certain position on his face. If the whole face is to be changed, the cosmetic paint is applied to the forehead or eyebrows; for changes on the lower half of the face, paint is applied to his cheeks or nose; or to other specific parts.

The Blowing Mask routine works with powder cosmetics, such as gold, silver, and ink powders. Sometimes a tiny box is placed on the stage; the actor draws near and blows at the box. The powder will puff up and stick to the face. Sometimes the powder is put in a cup. The secret to success in this act is to close the eyes and mouth and to hold the breath.

The Pulling Mask routine is the most complicated. Masks are painted on pieces of damask, well cut, hung with a silk thread, and the lightly pasted to the face one by one. The silk thread is fastened in an inconspicuous part of the costume. With a flick of his cloak the performer magically whisks away the masks one by one as the drama develops.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:01
 

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