Peking opera is a special unique blend of theater, mime, acrobatics, circus and carnival action. Wichmann stated that “Beijing Opera is a synthesis of stylized action, singing, dialogue and mime, acrobatic fighting and dancing to represent a story or depict different characters and their feelings of gladness, anger, sorrow, happiness, surprise, fear and sadness.”
It is believed that the above numerated constitutes show its essence. And thinking about its appearance it is necessary to mention that its roots were found in ancient street performances. Inheriting the best traditions of the Chinese National Theater, Peking Opera is artistically raised above other local theatrical genres, and took the particular position among them.
It is important to add that strengthening of the political and cultural influence of Beijing contributed to the spread of Beijing opera across the country. In such a way the genre has received national recognition due to the most fully embodiment of the specifics of ancient theater. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong used culture as a powerful weapon for maintaining political power and for transforming society. All art forms in China were tightly controlled and manipulated to reform Chinese culture. “True reform could only come with the creation of Chinese operas about non-traditional, preferably contemporary topics” because if operas could be transformed, then China’s literature and art would also be so.
Skills including embroidery, beading, designing and working with a specific colour palette are well represented in the Chinese Opera Headdress. The strengths of my chosen object are it’s symbolism, historic values, influences of art and design in general and contributions to the design of modern headwear. However, the weakness are the impracticality of the headdresses because they are constricting and heavy for modern usage, that there are expensive and inaccessible and the limited information available online or in the library regarding the methods of how the headdresses are made.
What’s in peking opera (technique of expression) Singing, reading, dancing and fighting is the four artistic techniques of Peking Opera performance, and it is also the four basic skill of Peking Opera. High accuracy of pronunciation and enunciation is required in Singing. The reading in Peking Opera refers to a musical speaking, both are inseparably interconnected. Constituting one of the key element in Peking Opera, song. Dancing refers to the figure and action which theatricalize the dance. The movement had to be trained strictly. Fighting refers to the acrobatic fighting and the skills of knock and falls in the Peking Opera performances. Composing the second key element in Peking Opera, dance. Peking Opera also has the aid of foreign objects to express the characters’ emotions. Furthermore, they use accessories to express their status. They have vibrant colours and intricacy of the crafting.
They are work of art and the history behind it is just as fascinating. The headdress originates from the term “Toukui” comprising of a crown, helmet, hat or a scarf(Ayer J, 1974). The headdress signifies status: The crown depicts nobility, often rigid in appearance, whereas the helmet represents the military and scarves were worn by ordinary people. The main purpose of a Chinese Opera Headdress is to help the audience identify specific roles. The more intricate and striking the headdress the more superior the character.
Green denotes impulsive behavior, violence, no self-restraint or self-control. Red stands for bravery or loyalty. Black denotes boldness, fierceness, impartiality, rough. Yellow symbolizes ambition, fierceness, or intelligence. Blue stands for steadfastness ( someone who is loyal and sticks to one side no matter what ). Pink symbolizes sophistication, and cool-headedness. Peking Opera is particular about the accuracy of language, vividness, refiness and connotation. It reflects the aesthetic feeling of life. Showing Peking Opera is the embodiment of the beauty of art from life.
From 1917 to the earlier stage of Counter-Japanese war(1937-1945), was a period of great prosperity of Peking Opera. It had reached the peak of development and it was flourishing as never before. After the war of Resistance Against Japan, because of the devastation from the imperialism and the reactionary, Peking Opera was fallen into depression. Theaters were desolated, performers became destitute and homeless. Artists who are full of national integrity refused to be used as propaganda machine and bow out from the stage. Peking Opera came back and developed vigorously since the 90s. The show was put on a special column on the television. Artist and fashion designers used it as a inspiration. Chinoiserie design is a knot in Chinese designers’ heart. Theres is too many people doing this, but only a few would understand the quintessence of it. In fact, some foreign designers may not have the basic strength and confidence of this. However, Chinese had lesser understanding of if. ‘The old style cheongsam, for example. I can guarantee there is very few designers had the idea of it. How come people wore such a tight neckline but still can move smoothly? Is the essence and the profound theory of the collar and front side.’ Said by Guo Pei, a Chinese designer best known for designing dresses for Chinese celebrities, and in America for Rihanna’s trailing yellow gown at the 2015 Met Ball.
Details are one of the most important part in designing, therefore accessories, the headdress, would be an appropriate theme for fashion design. The various types of garments can be develop by changing the fabric, shapes and decorations that got inspired from the headdress in Peking Opera. The two dimensional pattern can split into two parts. First is the allover design pattern and second is the partially dermatoglyphic pattern. Using textile printing fabric, the hollow out that marry the fabrics together, and the embroidery technique. There is some coordination with the traditional Chinese style clothing and Western style. The often used Chinoiserie patterns are common Chinese traditional design. Including the dragon, wind, cloud, bamboom and so on. Combining the patterns with the details from the headdress of Peking Opera, and the silhouette that would be trending in 2018, the pleats, the 80’s shoulders, the frills galore, making the design more flexible and unconstrained.
Characteristics of headdress of Peking Opera is obvious. The commonly used technique for ornament includes inserting, rolling, painting , embroidery and so on. The initial rolling appeared in the collar, hemline and sleeves mostly in a form of broadside. Combing the embroidery and painting pattern. The traditional headdress elements contained by Peking Opera is the precious wealth of oriental culture. It uses emotion, imagination by creating non abstract image reality. Reflecting the human psychology and ideology. The myths and legend that have a content of Dragon, Phoenix and Kylin, they are human beings’ commemoration to the perplexity and worship of nature. It is also a reflection of the goodliness of man’s conquest of nature. The beliefs and aesthetics they contain have more strong cultural background for today’s clothing design, making the clothing more ideological and more artistic and aesthetic value.
As the essence of art and culture, the artistic elements contained in the headdress of Peking Opera played an irreplaceable role in the modern fashion design. Exaggerated costume, the gorgeous national color on the headdress, traditional pattern and details. These most ethnic Chinese elements and flavor are increasingly utilize by designers in fashion design more and more. Becoming the most artifice method of the Chinese style expression. Thereupon then, come into being a highly ethnic style production.