Leibei, the character of THREE KINGDOMS
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The Story of Ground Opera: 600 Years of Heritage originated 1000 years ago during Song Dynasty
Ground Opera is a sort of traditional Nuo Opera living on the folk. Today, there are more than 300 acts of the opera preserved, along with these opera are lots of ancient masks.
Nuo was an ancient culture in China started during Shang Dynasty more than 3000 years ago, which was used to dispel devils and disaster. When Song Dynasty(960-1274) , a sort of Nuo, which the Army Nuo was combining with a local district culture and converted into a new form of folk opera, that is, the Ground Opera. It was around 1388, that the Ground Opera was brought and embedded into Anshun by army of Ming Dynasty for conquering the district.
The Living Fossil of the opera art
When the traditional Ground Opera has been lost from other places, it is still living on Tunpu villages, where locate on remote area of mountains. Yet due to the geographical isolation, the current opera keeps nearly the same as its feature first alike, so it is called the living fossil of opera art. As the Ground Opera is a sort of folk opera wearing masks, so the mask is not only the unique character, but the soul of the Ground Opera as well. Today, the Ground Opera masks have become a popular collected item by private collectors and public museums in many countries.
Mask Brief Introduction
Masks roles can be classified into 4 categories: Warrior / Officer, Taoist, Clown and Animal. Among these, the warrior and officer are the focus and refined with great imagination. They are consisted of face, armet and ear fender. The armet and ear fender are often ornamented in the shape of phoenix or dragon. The usually practice is that dragons are ornamented for men and phoenixes for women, but there is exception sometimes.
According the legendary story, some warriors were born from a star, so some animals were carved on the armet, such as tiger, roc, dragon etc, to indicate which star the warrior belong to.
The eyebrow has their own rules as well, which young warriors eyebrow like a sword, females a string and savage warriors a blaze.
The use of color in face here also acquired their own symbolized meanings. Red means loyalty and bravery, black means valor and hardihood, blue means determination and braveness, green means eccentric, white means handsome and powerful, two colored face represents the officer who is in charge of a pass and three colored face represents warrior, officer or general in enemy troops.
There are many Taoist mask in Ground Opera, they usually presented as a immortal who was aid to win the war as a military counsellor. Their face usually looks ugly and weird. There are also a lot of refined masks for clowns and animals as well.
Origin of our masks
Zhouguantun is called the cradle of mask carving nowadays, in where were born many famous mask sculptors. One of the most famous family, Hu, have engaged in carving mask for at least 22 generations, by which all our products are carved.