Learn more about the symbols and stories behind Chinese Opera by tapping the white dots!
Sheng refers to male characters.
Common types of sheng include:
武生 (wu sheng) - A martial character like a general
文生 (wen sheng) - A civil character like a scholar
This wen/wu trait can also apply to all other characters.
Dan refers to female characters.
Common types of dan include:
花旦 (hua dan) - A young, lively and dainty female character who is not married yet.
闺门旦 (gui men dan) / 青衣 (qing yi dan) - A mature and dignified female character that is usually married.
刀马旦 (dao ma dan) - Literally 'sword and horse' dan, this is the role of a female warrior.
When you see characters with boldly coloured faces from black and blue to gold and silver, you're probably looking at a jing.
Also known as 花脸 (hua lian) meaning painted face, this role is known for a heavily painted face to represent different traits.
Red - Uprightness and loyalty
Black - Soundness and integrity
Purple - Steadfastness and integrity
Yellow - Impetuousness and boldness
Blue - Resolution and daring
Green - Stubbornness and hotheadedness
Gold and silver - Supernatural beings
Meaning clown, this is the comedic role in opera. These characters are often silly and whimsical, winning the hearts of audiences.
Chinese opera is not the same without its clashing cymbals and melodramatic erhu. During a performance, a live band of six to seven musician sets the pacing and mood of the scenes.
Like its characters, Chinese opera's music can also be divided into 文 (wen) meaning civil and 武 (wu) meaning martial. Wen features string and woodwind instruments like erhu while wu features more 'aggressive' percussion instrument like cymbals and drums.
Usually worn by characters of a higher social status, these sleeves flow fluidly to display a wide array of emotions.
Simple props like this horse whip is used to represent the character riding a horse.
Characters can have added characteristics based on age. 小 (xiao) refers to a young character and 老 (lao) refers to an older character.
Older male characters are often seen with beard.