Eggshell Facial Masks Inject New Vitality into Chinese Traditional Opera

An ordinary plain eggshell, after a series of steps such as tracing, painting, and coloring, can make a big difference. Traditional opera figures like the red-faced Guan Yu (Avalokiteśvara), the black-faced Bao Zheng, and the green-faced Cheng Yaojin… each one appears to come to life, given new vitality by the eggshell.

Ms Zhao Limei is the master behind the creation of these eggshell facial masks. Born in Fei County, Shandong’s Linyi City, she is now a representative inheritor of the city’s intangible cultural heritage. The eggshell opera facial masks of Fei County, with a history over 200 years, embody the cultural characteristics of traditional Chinese opera in terms of color, composition, patterns, and thematic expression.

The process of making facial masks may seem easy. But both skill and patience are indispensable. From material selection, punching, sketching, coloring, to air drying, every step requires exquisite painting skills and extreme attention to details. Each eggshell facial mask, therefore, is a masterpiece full of artistic and cultural value, showcasing the perfect combination of tradition and modernity.

The eggshell facial masks enjoy a vibrant and colorful story, just like the masks themselves. The art not only inherits the Chinese culture, but also integrates modern innovation, calling for new life in the tradition. 

Zhao Limei said, “I hope that traditional Chinese opera can go abroad so that our colorful and beautiful traditional culture can be presented to the world.”

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