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Facial makeup of Peking Opera (3)

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

09:58, June 03, 2013

Jiao Xuefeng is not only a master craftsman but also adept at promoting the craft on the Internet. (China Daily/ Pei Pei)

Jiao is the sixth generation since his ancestors became devoted to Peking Opera around 200 years ago. He was influenced in his boyhood by many of his family members who performed this national opera, and later decided to carry on the family's tradition.

He quit a stable job in his hometown in his 20s and went to Beijing to further his study of painting. By accident, he got a chance to make masks for a US company in 1987, realizing it was a new way to combine his painting and Peking Opera.

"At first I wanted to make a living on my family tradition and also spread this old art to more young people" he says. "Now my focus is to preserve this splendid culture with books and exquisite facial masks."

He usually spends about 17 hours a day to paint, read and play guqin, a seven-stringed plucked music instrument.

It took him more than four years to document more than 800 characters' facial makeups in Peking Opera plays, which he hopes to publish as a book someday.

"Young people in our county would like to learn this old skill either because of pure interest or the desire to make money," he says.

"But to make more young people and even foreigners know this traditional art, the country needs to give more help to the people inheriting and spreading the traditions."

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