Set the stage for great things this year inspired by the vibrant art of traditional Chinese Opera.
What was once a traditional vibrant display of life during Chinese New Year is now a dying art form today. Chinese Opera is a culmination of stories from thousands of years involving several cultural elements including illustrious songs, martial arts and acrobatics, magnified through majestic theatrics on stage.
Although there are many different types of traditional Chinese Opera out there, Teochew Opera remains the most common and prominent one in Malaysia. With little to no words spoken, colours of a character’s face play a significant role in breathing life and guiding the audience through a story.
This Chinese New Year, TM wants to revitalise the lost art of traditional Chinese Opera by making Malaysians the face of it all.
In each play, there are 4 main characters with distinct facial features and makeup colours that symbolises their individual personality, role and fate in a story.
The female protagonists can be identified with a scalloped hairline on her forehead. Quite notably she will have a high brow arch and saturated pink hues on her face symbolising her virtuous and positive nature.
Similarly to Dan, the male protagonists will don a saturated pink face and high brow arch symbolising his righteous and positive nature.
Typically the Jing’s face is painted in bold makeup colours and unique patterns symbolising a different characteristic and role a character plays in a story.
The comedian (fool) is recognised by a distinctive white patch on his face symbolising his/her funny, down-to-earth personality.
Learn and discover the significance of colour in traditional Chinese Opera as we take you on an adventure.
Scan the QR code to find out how you will face the year ahead.
Are you a Dan, Sheng, Jing or Chou?
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Meet Goh Hooi Ling, 4th generation Teochew Opera performer and founder of Teochew Puppet and Opera House. Born and raised in Penang, Ling’s childhood was unlike most as she spent her days immersed in the vibrant art backstage watching her family take centre stage.
Her mother Toh Ai Hwa, founded Kim Giok Low Choon Puppet Troupe in 1989 and was honoured with the Living Heritage Treasure award by the Penang heritage Trust. Under the tutelage of experts and influence of her family, Ling is a master of the intricacies of iron-rod puppet manipulation as well as the nuances of each prominent character (Dan, Sheng, Jing and Chou) in Teochew Opera.
Following in her mother’s footsteps in exposing the art of traditional Chinese Opera in Malaysia, she successfully established a live-size Teochew Opera troupe in 2009, bringing over 30 local, Thai and mainland Chinese performers and musicians together. The troupe is famously remembered for their triumphant performance at the Penang Performing Arts Centre of the swan song before they unfortunately disbanded.
Today, Ling runs a Teochew Opera museum that offers a multitude of different cultural immersion experiences for visitors to fully appreciate the art form when she’s not teaching Chinese Opera classes. As she continues to preserve this traditional artform, Ling hopes to educate Malaysians about the cultural values and moral lessons imparted behind the exuberant performances amidst the illustrious costumes and makeup on stage.