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Peking Opera

A form of traditional Chinese theatre, that surfaced at the end of the 18th century AD, during the late Qing Dynasty, and which combines traditional Chinese music with vocal performance, as well as with mime, drama, dance, acrobatics, rage, and melodious recitation. Performers wear all types of facial makeup, known as lian pu (fig.) and are dressed in colourful costumes (fig.), sometimes with conspicuous headdresses (fig.). The themes are based on Chinese history, folklore, and events from daily life. This art form arose in Peking and was first performed in Shanghai in 1884 in the Dangui Tea House (fig.), i.e. the earliest theatre ever to offer Peking Opera in Shanghai. Also called Beijing Opera and in Chinese known as Jing Ju (京剧), literally ‘Capital City Drama’. See also Chinese Opera and Heng Ko (fig.).