Banakas | Photography


Face Changing

Face-changing or “bian lian” in Chinese, is an important sub-genre of Chinese Sichuan opera. Performers wear brightly colored costumes and move to a quick, dramatic music. They also wear vividly colored masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or a wave of the hand.

The secret for how to accomplish this has been passed down from one generation to the next within families. Traditionally only males were permitted to learn Bian Lian, the theory being that women do not stay within the family and would marry out, increasing the risk the secret would be passed to another family.

This photo was taken during the 2013 East Tennessee Chinese New Year Festival that was held in early February in Knoxville.

Categories: People

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