Beijing Opera Costumes
The Visual Communication of Character and Culture
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
List of Tables
In 1960 the noted scholar of Chinese performance, A. C. Scott, wrote in his book Chinese Costume in Transition that “to treat stage costume in any detail requires a book in itself . . . .” * His words inspired me to compose the first book written in English dedicated to the exploration of this beautiful and expressive aspect of the art of traditional Jingju (capital drama), commonly known as Beijing opera, and...
More than 300 forms of indigenous theatre entertainment incorporating song and music have evolved in China. The different forms of xiqu (music-drama), commonly translated as Chinese opera, were developed and performed in specific regions throughout the country. Jingju (capital drama), known in the west as Peking/ Beijing opera, is based in Beijing and is the most widespread and influential of the theatre forms, having been the nationally dominant form...
1. The World of Traditional Jingju
The roots of Jingju and music-dramas reach far back into the history of China, for as early as the Zhou dynasty (1100–221 BC), records of ritual dance exist. Dancing was used in ceremonies and festive events, and was often embellished with spoken words and musical accompaniment. The integration of these performance elements found in ancient dance continues on as the essence of Chinese indigenous theatre. Succeeding...
2. The World of Traditional Jingju Costumes
An elaborate system of telegraphing character through the visual image has developed for modern Jingju costumes, which uses prescribed garments with specific symbolism in color and decoration. During the 200 years that Jingju has evolved, garments and colors have been chosen to define the most appropriate image for each character...
3. The Form and Historical Roots of Costumes
When classifying traditional Jingju costumes, the Chinese use a system of “outer” and “inner” elements to describe the visual impact. The outer describes the overall image, primarily the silhouette, which is rather simple, yet it indicates all six of the identifiers: the person’s status, gender, wealth, nationality, age, and whether they are military or civilian. The inner...
4. The Symbolism and Application of Color
At first glance the vibrant colors of the fabrics on the traditional Jingju stage may appear to be random and unrestrained, yet a complex system of color meanings for the garments and the roles controls the stage picture. While the silhouette of the garment represents the primary indication of the role type, the color of the fabric projects information about the specific character. To achieve...
5. The Aesthetics and Meanings of the Embroidered Imagery
The interaction of the color of the garments with the subjects and arrangement of the embroidery on the surface embodies the “inner” aspects of the costumes, not the minute details found in the type of stitch or the species of flower. The impact of the whole conveys the intent of the costume...
6. The Costume Compendium
The compendium catalogs a significant sample of the costumes worn in traditional Jingju. The costumes are classified by form and then organized by status or occupation. Four principal costumes comprise the majority of those worn by traditional Jingju characters. The mang (court robe) is considered the highest-ranking garment, and is worn by officials for court appearances. After the mang, the pi (formal robe) comes next in status, and it is worn by the some of the...
7. Makeup, Hair, and Headdresses
Between the rich colors and textures of the costumes, and the bedazzling, animated headdresses, the faces of the performers would be lost without the benefit of makeup. The enhanced visage has long been a tradition in both daily life and performance in China, and consequently, makeup designs have evolved into elaborate expressions of the countenance, from the epitome of beauty to the amplification of character through vibrant color and...
8. Dressing Techniques and Costume Plots
In the absence of a costume designer, the dressers are responsible for preparing the visual image and maintaining the integrity of the costume conventions. Rather than create newly designed costumes for every production, each Jingju troupe or academy collects a range of conventionalized costumes. The costumes can either be hand-embroidered and made to order from...
Appendix 1. Costume Pattern Drafts
Appendix 2. Dictionary of Jingju Characters
Certain characters in the history and lore of China have become renowned for their bravery, beauty, valor, intelligence, or other outstanding characteristics. Their stories have mutated into the traditional Jingju canon, heightening their recognition. Some of these characters are referred to throughout the text to illuminate examples of dress patterns. To facilitate understanding of these characters and their place in the scripts, a brief description of their personalities and circumstances follows....
List of Performances
About the Author
Alexandra B. Bonds is Professor of Costume Design at the University of Oregon. Her passion for Beijing Opera costumes began when she received a Fulbright to teach at the National Institute for the Arts in Taiwan in 1990. She became the first foreigner to study costumes at the Academy for Traditional Chinese Opera in Beijing, China, where she conducted extensive research for this book. An award-winning designer,...
Publication Year: 2008
OCLC Number: 256864936
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Beijing Opera Costumes