ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bian Lian - Face-mask changing in Sichuan Opera

Updated on September 4, 2017
Chinese Opera Painted Face
Chinese Opera Painted Face | Source

 

Sichuan Opera

 

Sichuan Opera is a type of Chinese operas that has been around since 1700.  It has stylized and refined movements, with exquisite and lively acting. Its series of stunts include the famous “face-changing” Bian Lian. 

 

Face-changing in Sichuan Opera is a rare art heritage and considered a national treasure by many Chinese.


Dramatic art of face-changing

Bian Lian, a rapid mask-changing technique, is one of the most fascinating, artistic charms of Sichuan Opera. It is an ancient dramatic art form that takes many years to perfect. In Chinese opera, facial makeup is usually painted, but in Sichuan Opera, the performer can change his or her facial makeup in the snap of a finger right on stage.

By just waving their arms and twisting their heads, performers are able to change their painted masks repeatedly. Master Peng Denghuai, a famous Sichuan Opera maestro, can change 14 masks in 24 seconds and his feat was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.

As Bian Lian is a unique aspect of Sichuan Opera, this technique is considered a secret and has always been closely guarded within the family of the performer. A performer can only take in male apprentice only when he himself has become a master of the art. Traditionally, females are forbidden to learn this art as, according to Chinese culture, they marry out of the family and so increase the risk of leaking the secret to outsiders.

 

Leakage of Bian Lian secret performing technique

In 2006, Chinese press Xinhua reported that some artistes of the Sichuan Opera sold the trade secret to other parts of China and even overseas. In 2007, the Beijing Morning Post reported that this unique art secret was being sold for only 3,000 yuan (US$385) on a major auction website in China.

Considering Bian Lian a national treasure, Sichuan Opera maestros have called for better protection of the art as selling the secret on the Internet disrespects not only the face-changing art but also the Chinese cultural heritage. “The disclosure of the secrets of face-changing actually spoils the art”, said Ouyang Ronghua, the first to use face-changing in his performance.

Changing face of Bian Lian

This 300-year-old Chinese dramatic art has seen gradual changes in recent years.

The taboo of female practising mask-changing was broken in 1998 when Master Peng took in 8 girls as students.

Some years ago, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau became a student of Master Peng but has yet to master the face-changing technique.

Nowadays, mask-changing artistes can be found even in Malaysia and Singapore. While in China it is still very strict about imparting mask-changing skill, it is different elsewhere. Bian Jiang, a mask-changing artistes from China, conducts mask-changing courses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

According to a well-known Bian Lian master, many magicians are studying the act, hoping to discover the secret. Although similar expressions are displayed, their switching of faces is too slow. This is far from the performance of authentic Bian Lian masters. In China, there are only 200 certified Bian Lian artistes.

 

Chinese movie “The King of Masks”

Filmed in 1996, this is a Chinese movie about an aged street performer who is a master of the Sichuan Opera Bian Lian technique. The film has won numerous film festival awards around the world.

The movie is available in both DVD and VHS formats.

© 2011 pinkytoky

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)