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      photogallery masks


A page containing masks from Chinese Opera, masks on walls, masks in Tibet, but also masks from long, long ago.


Masks from the Chinese Opera.
The masks originate from daily life experience, describing such changes of expressions as white for fear, red for shyness, dark for suntan, and sallow for illness. Most facial designs attach great importance to the eyes and eyebrows.
Red, yellow, white, black, purple, green and silver are the main colours used for facial designs to represent different characters. For instance, red stands for loyal, courageous and upright people; white for sinister and cunning officials; and golden and silvery colours for gods and ghosts.
The facial designs for the Jing roles are made by painting, powdering and colouring in the basic forms of Zheng Lian (keeping the basic face pattern), San Kuai Wa Lian (three-section face) and Sui Lian (fragmentary face). These types are widely used to represent generals, officials, heroes, gods and ghosts.


The facial designs are considered an art form.
Often, it is the performer who must apply his or her own make- up, at times, during the performance. An actor may play more roles in one performance, thus having to change faces as many times as their character within the opera changes.



Guan YU, a wellknown general of the Shu State at The Three Kingdoms

Zhuge Liang, the prime minister of the Shu State


Sun Quan, the emperor of the Wu


Zhang Fei, a wellknown generalof the Shu State

Xiahou Dun, a great general of the Wei State










Cao Cao, the Wei martial emperor
of Wei State



Masks from Sanxingdui museum, about 30 km north-east of Chengdu, China



We Wear the Mask.

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Masks on walls, The Hague, Holland


The Mask

A mask of plastic happiness often covers her sadness
Her beliefs hidden from most
Afraid of, but willing to face the unknown
Wondering where her place is in this life
She has come close to sharing herself
Never completely revealing anything to anyone
Feelings of invisible chains corner her
When she dreams, reality shatters before her very eyes
Accomplishments she strives for just at hands grasp
She feels lost sometimes, not yet finding her notch in this world
At times the glimmer in her calm eyes slowly disappears
But within her heart a silent flame burns her inside and out
She roams day by day, playing roles
Strength unknowingly resides in her
History repeats itself once again
The translucent veil she so proudly wears
Little by little answers will come, pushing it aside
One day there will be no more mask for her to wear
One day her beliefs will be known
One day she'll know her place in this life
One day she will share herself
ONE DAY this mask will be NO MORE



'Masks' in Tibet




...and Nepal


For the Love of God (poster) Damien Hirst


7000 BC Musee de la bible et terre sainte
about 1300 BC Tutanchamon


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