Bian Lian, which means “Face Changing,” is a form of a Chinese dramatic art. Known to be part of Sichuan opera, such kind aims to reveal the innermost feelings and emotions that should be present. Through skills such as waving arms, twisting heads, and wearing of varying painted masks, the Face Changing art is successfully achieved. Now, to better understand it, here are some facts to know about Bian Lian face changing shows.
What is the Sichuan Opera?
Sichuan Opera is known for its long, rich history. 400 years have passed since it originated, more specifically during the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of Qing Dynasty. Even back then, several forms of theater and performance are being introduced, accepted, and developed, which believed to have successfully contributed to today’s Sichuan Opera.
Currently known for its five historic melodic styles, Sichuan Opera can be performed through solo singing, acting, percussion, and even through comedy shows. Most often than not, every performance involves and requires performers to be in their most colorful costumes. Dramatic music is also always evident in such opera.
How did it Face Changing start?
Originally part of the Sichuan Opera, Bian Lian started with only having few masters who can successfully grasp such skill. It was during the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong that it first appeared and was appreciated. Back then, only men were allowed to learn it mainly because of the mindset that women will eventually marry and leave the family, therefore increasing the risk of spreading the Bian Lian secret.
What is the technique?
Face changing is known to work through various types. The most popular ones are through smearing, pulling, and blowing, which are the general types. The four specific ways to do face changing is through the following:
- Blowing Dust
- Beard Manipulation
- Pulling-downing Masks
Why is it referred to as a guarded skill?
The Chinese Government gives much priority to it, even considering it as a national secret. It depicts history, traditions, and culture which make it worthy of any protection from being copied and claimed by other areas. Ways are being done to ensure that the secret is safely kept and one is the way is through restricting roles such as providing that the person specializing the mask changing is also the same person to perform.