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Chinese Opera Ensemble

This is a Chinese opera ensemble from the early 20th century. The robe, hat, and shoes are ornately sequined yellow silk that would have been eye-catching for the audience. Costumes are an important part of Beijing Opera productions. The cut and color of the costumes communicate essential qualities about the characters the actors are playing to the audience.

Chinese theater production has a history that stretches back many hundreds of years. The major precursors of this art form were largely developed by educated Chinese men who had to vacate their jobs during the Mongol occupation (1280-1368) and turned their energy to the arts. Tragedy and romance were the main two genres at that time, but “popular” theater that told local folktales developed later during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1664).

Opera continued to change with the times. K’un-ch’u developed from Confucian ideals and was popular for about 300 years before breaking apart in the 1850’s into several different schools of theater, including the still popular Beijing Opera form.



Circa: early 20th century

Origin: China




Inventory number: WR3841


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