More nice PDFs !

Surface Design in Jingju costumes: The Aesthetics and Meanings of Embroidered Imagery in the Beijing Opera” by Alexandra Bonds, the author of the Beijing Opera Costume book here.

And another article by the same author, “Beijing Opera Costumes” here.

Costumes of Beijing Opera (行头·xíngtou)

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Headwear (盔头·kuītou)

You can loosely group these in four categories, naming is not consequent.

Of course I couldn’t list each and every headdress and accessory, you will meet reformed and custom versions, Ming and Qing dynasty designs, new creations as you watch Beijing Opera, but the article gives a fair overview I guess.

Main parts, attachments:

  • ézĭ(额子); dàézĭ(大额子)- diadem; big diadem Pic A
  • fùmătào(驸马套)- headdress attached to the basic black hat of the Emperor’s son-in-law Pic B
  • língzĭ(翎子)- a pair of long pheasant tail feathers Pic C
  • dōuzĭtóu(都子头)- children’s little crown Pic D
  • dàsuì(大穗)- a pair of long, big tassels hanging on both sides of the headdress (picture shows the Emperor’s mourning crown) Pic E
  • húwĕi(狐尾)- a pair of long, white, furry foxtails attached to the headdress; for non-Han characters Pic F
  • cháotiānchì(朝天翅)- two little wings on the back of the headdress Pic G
  • piāodài(飘带)- two streamers on the back of the headdress Pic H
  • miànpái(面牌)- forehead decoration with a pompom Pic I
  • chăndāotóu(铲刀头)- a small shovel-shaped forehead decoration Pic J 
  • cígūyè(茨菰叶)- a small arrowhead-shaped forehead decoration Pic K
  • nán dàixiào(男戴孝)- male mourning apparel; white silk scarf tied on the headdress Pic L
  • xiàojīn(孝巾)- long, silk head scarf of mourning women Pic M
  • húnpà(魂帕)- lit. “spirit wrap”; black gauze to indicate the character is a ghost, or is in his spirit form Pic N
  • guǐhúnzi(鬼魂子)- ghost fringe; same purpose as above, numerous white strips of paper attached to the head on both sides Pic O
Pic A Pic B Pic C
Pic D Pic E Pic F
Pic G Pic H Pic I
Pic J Pic K Pic L
Pic M Pic N Pic O

Female version mianpai and ciguye (Pic I, K)

Emperor’s son-in-law back view: shamao, fumatao, lingzi, wings and foxtails

Anything that is rúyì (如意), lit. “as you like it”, resembles the shape of a lingzhi mushroom and Chinese-style clouds.
Rúyìguān (如意冠), rúyìtóu (如意头) on the left, rúyìchì (如意翅) (hard and soft wings) on the right


  •  Crowns(冠·guān)
    • huángmào or wángmào(皇帽 or 王帽)- formal headwear of the emperor, lingzi can’t be attached Pic1a
    • jiŭlóngguàn(九龙冠)- “nine dragon” crown; casual headwear of the emperor Pic2a
    • căowángkuī(草王盔)- worn by self-proclaimed sovereigns; practically identical with the wangmao, differs on three points: it has an additional golden wrap above the black shuisha, it’s slightly less decorated, and unlike the wangmao, it can be equipped with lingzi but not with dasui Pic3a
    • píngtiānguān(平天冠)- crown with a flat tablet-like thing on the top; worn by the rulers of Heaven or the Underworld, rarely used by “earthly” emperors or empresses  Pic4a-1 (male, female), Pic4a-2
    •  zĭjīnguàn or tàizĭkuī(紫金冠 or 太子盔)- worn by young but high-ranking military officers or the crown prince, made of a big diadem and a children’s crown (might or might not have lingzi) Pic5a-1, Pic5a-2
    • fèngguān(凤冠)- phoenix crown; spectacular folding fan-shaped crown Pic6a
    • guòqiáo or bànfèngguàn(过翘 or 半凤冠)- half phoenix crown
      – a bigger version(大过翘)for princesses and higher ranking ladies Pic7a
      – a smaller(小过翘)for palace maids and similar Pic8a
    • rúyìguān(如意冠)-  Mei Lanfang’s creation, especially for Farewell My Concubine Pic9a
    • dàoguān(道冠)- Daoist crown; reformed headwear of characters possessing Daoist wisdom Pic10a
    • píluómào or wŭfóguàn(毗罗帽 or 五佛冠)- Five Buddha crown; Buddhist head monk’s crown made of five panels Pic11a
    • jiègū or yuèyágū(戒箍 or 月牙箍)- lit. “give-up-desires hoop” or “crescent moon hoop”; Buddhist monk’s headband Pic12a
    • máguàn(麻冠)- mourning crown Pic13a
Pic1a Pic2a Pic3a
Pic4a-1 Pic4a-2 Pic5a-1
Pic5a-2 Pic6a Pic7a
Pic8a Pic9a Pic10a
Pic11a Pic12a Pic13a
  •  Helmets(盔·kuī)
    • shuàikuī(帅盔)- marshal’s helmet; a big diadem with a trident-looking decoration on the top, silver or golden Pic1b
    • nǚshuàikuī(女帅盔)- female marshal’s helmet Pic2b
    • lăodàn shuàikuī(老旦帅盔)- senior female marshal’s helmet; a laodan phoenix crown with the top decoration Pic3b
    • qīxīngézĭ(七星额子)- “seven stars” diadem; two-layered headdress of female generals, with seven pompoms in each line Pic4b
    • zhājīn(扎巾)- warrior’s “bandana” with mianpai, decorated with pompoms and pearls Pic5b
    • zhājīnkuī(扎巾盔)- a zhajin decorated further with a big diadem and more pompoms Pic6b
    • fūzĭkuī or fúzìkuī(夫子盔 or 福字盔)- a zhajinkui decorated even further Pic7b
    • bāmiànwēi or bāyīngkuī(八面威 or 八缨盔)- “eight-sided” or “eight tassels” helmet Pic8b
    • héfānkuī(和番盔)-  Wang Zhaojun’s helmet Pic9b
    • pànkuī(判盔)- lit. “judge helmet”, referring to the judge of the Underworld; Zhong Kui’s headwear with peach leaf wings Pic10b
    • jiāngjīn(将巾)- military leader’s casual headdress with a fabric flap at the back Pic11b
    • héyèkuī(荷叶盔)- “lotus leaf” helmet; military leader’s helmet shallowly resembling a lotus flower Pic12b
    • shīzĭkuī(狮子盔)- lion helmet Pic13b
    • dàoyīngkuī(倒缨盔)- tasseled helmet, a special version is Lin Chong’s yèbēnkuī (夜奔盔), “fleeing-in-the-night helmet” (right) Pic14b
    • guànzĭkuī(罐子盔)- “jar-like helmet”; peaked helmet of guards, attendants Pic15b
    • zhōngjūnkuī(中军盔)- military gatekeeper’s helmet; looks like an upside down round flowerpot Pic16b
    • báishé ézĭ(白蛇额子)- White Snake diadem; Bai Suzhen’s helmet from Tale of the White Snake Pic17b
    • qīngshé ézĭ(青蛇额子)- Green Snake diadem; Xiaoqing’s helmet from Tale of the White Snake Pic18b
    • húdiékuī(蝴蝶盔)- butterfly helmet of high-ranking female military officers, worn with the reformed armor Pic19b
Pic1b Pic2b Pic3b
Pic4b Pic5b Pic6b
Pic7b Pic8b Pic9b
Pic10b Pic11b Pic12b
Pic13b Pic14b Pic15b
Pic16b Pic17b Pic18b
  • Hats(帽·mào)
    • hóumào(侯帽)- “marquis hat” with floppy ears; also called taiding (台顶) if it has an additional trident-looking thing on the top (for characters holding military power) Pic1c
    • xiàngdiāo or xiàngshā(相貂 or 相纱)- prime minister’s muslin hat with two long wings; plain black like Judge Bao’s or copper-colored and decorated for elderly ministers Pic2c-1, Pic2c-2
    • găiliáng xiàngdiāo(改良相貂)- reformed prime minister hat;  inlaid, decorated, with dragons on both wings. Goes well with the simple reformed mang. Pic3c
    • fényángmào(汾阳帽)- commonly referred to as “wényáng”  (文阳) or jīndiāo (金貂), headdress of powerful auxiliary officials with ruyi wings. The Prince of Fenyang, Guo Ziyi is wearing this crown, hence the name. Pic4c
    • zhādēng(扎镫)- military version of the fenyangmao, looks the same just doesn’t have the wings Pic5c
    • dámào(鞑帽)- “Tatar hat”; traveling hat of non-Han regents, kings Pic6c
    • zhāntiānkuī(钻天盔)- “piercing the sky” helmet; a version of the above, Sun Wukong’s hat with a lotus flower-shaped pillar on the top, hence the name. Pic7c
    • luómào(罗帽)- six-sided hat of chivalrous persons
      • yìng~(硬罗帽)- hard, usually decorated with pompoms all around Pic8c
      • ruăn~(软罗帽)- soft, there’s an embroidered (花~) and a plain black (素~) version Pic9c-1, Pic9c-2
    • tàijiānkuī(太监盔)- court eunuch’s headwear Pic10c
      • xiăo~(小太监盔)- simpler for juniors
      • dà~(大太监盔)- larger and more decorated for seniors
    • shāmào(纱帽)- basic black official’s hat Pic11c
      It can be equipped with a variety of accessories (Pic12c):
      – fāngchì (方翅) – square wings for the sheng
      – jiānchì (尖翅) – pointy wings for the jing
      – yuánchì (圆翅) – round wings for the chou
      – táoyèchì (桃叶翅) – peach leaf wings for scholars
    • zàolìmào(皂隶帽)- black hat with peacock feather and “long life” character; for yamen (government office) runners Pic13c
    • zōngmào(鬃帽) – “horse’s mane hat”; black netted hat made of horse’s tail, for jing and chou Robin Hood-like characters Pic14c
    • căomàoquān(草帽圈) – straw hat brim; for fishermen, woodcutters etc. Pic15c
    • yúpózhào(渔婆罩) – fisherwoman’s shade; female version of the caomaoquan, decorated with tassels and pompoms Pic16c
    • sēngmào(僧帽)- Buddhist monk’s casual hat with embroidered “Buddha” character (佛) Pic17c
    • zhānmào(毡帽)- simple felt hat; blue or white for workers, red for office servants Pic18d
    • shāozĭmào(梢子帽)- two-colored felt hat of transport guards, soldiers in supporting role etc. Pic19d
    • qínjiāomào(秦椒帽)- “chili pepper hat”; red felt hat of office servants, yamen runners Pic20d
    • liú lìhuá mào刘利华帽)- Liu Lihua’s cap in At the Crossroads Pic21c
    • nuănmào(暖帽)- “warm hat”; modeled after the Qing dynasty winter hats Pic22c
    • liángmào(凉帽)- “cold hat”; modeled after the Qing dynasty summer hats Pic23c
      Depending on the height of the decoration towered on the top of the warm and cold hats, they can be called cháoguàn Pic24c (朝冠 – “court crown” of the Emperor), or jífúguàn Pic25c (吉服冠 – hat of officials and functionaries worn with the “auspicious clothes”).
    • guāpímào(瓜皮帽)- “melon skin hat”; the typical Chinese skullcap worn with long braid Pic26c
Pic1c Pic2c-1 Pic2c-2
Pic3c Pic4c Pic5c
Pic6c Pic7c Pic8c
Pic9c-1 Pic9c-2 Pic10c
Pic11c Pic12c Pic13c
Pic14c Pic15c Pic16c
Pic17c Pic18c Pic19c
Pic20c Pic21c Pic22c
Pic23c Pic24c Pic25c

Screenshot proves the caomaoquan is really made of straw.

  • Caps, soft caps, headcovering(巾·jīn)
    • huángjīn(皇巾)- made of yellow satin, with chaotianchi on the back; headwear of the emperor when he’s fallen ill Pic1d
    • xiàngjīn(相巾)- square shaped with a white jade and chaotianchi; casual headdress of the prime minister Pic2d
    • wénshēngjīn or xiăoshēngjīn(文生巾 or 小生巾)- pretty, delicate young scholar’s hat Pic3d
    • wŭshēngjīn(武生巾)- military version of the wenshengjin, doesn’t have the piaodai Pic4d
    • qiáoliángjīn(桥梁巾) – “bridge hat”; worn by the wenxiaosheng, looks like a miniature chalet Pic5d
    • jiĕyuánjīn or xuéshìjīn(解元巾 or 学士巾)- office-holding scholar’s hat with wings Pic6d (reformed version: Pic H)
    • fāngjīn(方巾)-  square hat; the plain black and slightly taller version with a white jade decoration is called (高方巾), “high square hat”, typical headwear of the poor scholar Pic7d
    • bāguàjīn(八卦巾)- eight trigrams hat; special square hat of Zhuge Liang Pic8d
    • héyèjīn(荷叶巾)-  lotus leaf hat; square hat with four flaps on the top Pic9d
    • yuánwàijīn(员外巾)- landlord’s casual headwear Pic10d
    • găiliáng yuánwàijīn(改良员外巾)- reformed landlord’s hat; more elegant and refined Pic11d
    • yāwěijīn(鸭尾巾)- ducktail hat; scholar’s fur-trimmed satin hat, evolved from the felt hat Pic12d
    • yìng yāwěijīn(硬鸭尾巾)- hard ducktail hat; same as above combined with a crown Pic13d
    • bàngchuíjīn(棒槌巾)- “wooden club hat”; satin cap with small peach leaf wings at the back, pathetic evil guy’s or thug’s headwear Pic14d
    • dàyèjīn or dàbănjīn(大叶巾 or 大板巾)- “big leaf” or “big board” hat; military officer’s hat with a big board on the top and flap at the back Pic15d
    • xiăobănjīn(小板巾)- “small board” hat; lower ranking version of the above Pic16d
    • dàogūjīn(道姑巾)- Daoist nun’s floppy headgear Pic17d
    • fēngmào(风帽)- “phoenix hat”; hood used in rain and wind, yellow for the emperor, red or black for males, embroidered for females Pic18d
Pic1d Pic2d Pic3d
Pic4d Pic5d Pic6d
Pic7d Pic8d Pic9d
Pic10d Pic11d Pic12d
Pic13d Pic14d Pic15d
Pic16d Pic17d Pic18d

Four little rascals in a selection of felt and square hats

Qing dynasty phoenix crown

Half of the headdresses used in the capital’s theaters are made by the 70 years old master, Li Jizong (李继宗), the “King of Headdresses”.

Li Jizong with his great-granddaughter and several pieces of artwork.

Zhang Huoding custom ordered this phoenix crown.

Hairstyles (头)

  • dàtóu(大头)- the most common qingyi hairstyle with bun Pic1e
  • zhuājìtóu(抓髻头)- hairstyle of servant maids, female warriors etc. with upwards combed bun Pic2e
  • qítóu(旗头)- Manchu hairstyle
    • liăngbătóu(两把头 – with a big arch-like board and asymmetrical pianzi Pic3e-1, Pic3e-4
    • qítóu diànzĭ(旗头垫子)- empress dowager’s hairstyle with big flowery buns on both sides Pic3e-2
    • qítóu zuòzĭ(旗头坐子)- smaller version for lower ranking women Pic3e-3
  • gŭzhuāngtóu(古装头)- hairstyle with big scoops and small bangs for Mei Lanfang’s guzhuang (ancient-style dress) Pic4e
  • laodan hairstyles: decorated bun for high ranking old ladies /zōngfă (棕发), “coir hair” for poor women Pic5e
  • péngtóu(蓬头)- “disheveled hair”; messy hairstyle of Daoist monks, heavenly beings (longer) and demons, goblins etc. (shorter) Pic6e
  • háiérfă(孩儿发)- children’s hair; wig with bangs and two topknots for the wawasheng Pic7e
Pic1e Pic2e Pic3e-1
Pic3e-2 Pic3e-3 Pic3e-4
Pic4e Pic5e Pic6e

Hair accessories

  • lēitóudài(勒头带)- basic accessory with two long ribbons wrapped around the head, lifts the eyebrows and eye corners, keeps additional hair pieces in place Pic1f
  • piànzĭ(片子)- sideburns, sidelocks and bangs glued on the forehead and around the cheeks Pic2f
    • (小弯)- small curls on the forehead (usually 7) Pic2f-1
    • (大柳 or 大弯)- sideburns around the cheeks Pic2f-2
    • shuĭzhé(水折)- a bigger curl of hair covering the ears (optional)
  • xiànyĭzǐ¹(线尾子)or xiànliánzi(线帘子)or shúsīliánzi(熟丝帘子)- knee-length long threads, tied onto the top of the head Pic3f
  • wăngzĭ(网子)- lit. “netting”; a beanie-looking wig covering the head
  • dàzān(大簪)- big hairpin, looks like an arrow (in the datou it fastens the xianyizi, also the fadian is strapped to this)
  • fàdiàn(发垫)- bun pad
  • dàfà(大发)- lit. “big hair”, a big bunch of hair that covers the fadian
  • zhuājì(抓髻)- bun of the zhuajitou Pic4f
  • fàjì(发髻)- a simple coil of hair on the top of the head
  • shuăifà(甩发)- “tossing hair”; male ponytail on a post, suitable for twirling it in despair Pic5f
  • yānyĭ¹(燕尾)- swallowtail piece on the back of the qitou
  • pīfà(披发)- “spread-out hair”; long, untied wig of Zhuge Liang Pic6f
  • bìnfà(鬓发)- “hair on the temples” (not a technical term), sidelocks Pic7f
  • fàlǚ(发缕)- “lock of hair” (not a technical term); destitute or insane character’s “out of the place” locks of hair
  • shuĭshā(水纱)- a long, black piece of silk wrapped tightly around the head, creates a neat hairline Pic8f
  • lăodàn lēizi(老旦勒子)- black velvet strip with a pearl or gem used in laodan hairstyles Pic9f
  • chóutiáo(绸条)- “silk strip” (not a technical term); headband of the laodan Pic10f

¹ Though pinyinized as yanwei and xianweizi in Alexandra Bonds’ book, according to the alternative pronunciation of the character “尾” yanyi and xianyizi are in use. (ref,ref)

Pic1f Pic2f Pic2f-1
Pic2f-2 Pic3f Pic4f
Pic5f Pic6f Pic7f
Pic8f Pic9f Pic10f

Most professional accessories are made of human hair, preferably Asian (won’t curl)

How to stick pianzi?
Soak elm tree shavings in hot water, distribute the mucus you get on other person’s cut-off hair, then stick it to your face.

Combing process (梳头·shūtóu)

If it helps to achieve the desired look, use it!

Hard head ornaments (头面·yìngtóumiàn)

Main sets:

  • shuĭzhān(水钻)- Jeweled ornaments. The blue set is for wealthy or middle-class married women (A1); the red set is a more festive one, for newly wed young ladies or flirtatious maids. (A2)
  • diăncuì(点翠)- Blue filigree ornaments.
    Sets of Northern style opera (北派) (B1) and Southern style opera (南派) (B2) differ. Northern diancui is grand and gorgeous, the Southern one is delicate and elegant.
  • yíndìng(银锭)- Simpler silver set of poor women. (C)






Each set  is made of around 50 different pieces. Main items are:

  • zhèngfèng(正凤)- symmetrical big phoenix, main front piece of the guzhuangtou D
  • dàpàozi(大泡子)- the biggest, middle forehead jewel (1)
  • xiăopào(小泡)- smaller, round jeweled pins (2)
  • dĭnghuā(顶花)- crown jewel (3)
  • pàolián(泡联)- ribbon strip decorated with jewels (4)
  • ĕrwāzi(耳挖子)- lit. “ear digger”, the horizontal pieces on both sides of the head (5)
  • piānfèng(偏凤)- lit. “one-sided phoenix”; a pair of phoenix-shaped accessories worn around the ears (6)
  • hòusāntiáo(后三条)- “three back strips”, decoration of the bun (7)
  • húluzān(葫芦簪)- hair sticks, worn in the bun (8)
  • liùjiăoliàohuā(六角料花)- 6-pointed pin (9)
  • fèngtiăo(凤挑)- “phoenix stick”; long, festive hanging ornaments (10)
  • butterfly pin (11)
  • small hairpins in different shapes and sizes (12)
  • yātiáo(压条)- long hair clips (13)
  • biānfú(蝙蝠)- “bat”; bat-shaped accessory, usually covers the ears (14)
  • liúsū húdié(流苏蝴蝶)- tasseled butterfly, covers the dafa on both sides (15)
  • Mei school symmetrical butterfly E


Shuizhan – asymmetrical and symmetrical phoenix (“ancient style” hair)

Diancui – Northern and Southern-style big phoenix (“ancient style” hair)

Red shuizhan set

Shuizhan pieces

Shuizhan pieces

Southern diancui set

Diancui pieces (N=Northern, S=Southern)

Diancui pieces (N=Northern, S=Southern)

Diancui pieces (N=Northern, S=Southern)


Yinding set

Sources: 秦钟wzl乌托邦帮刘骏红豆少主行者的镜界慢哥的地盘狠老虎不喂hitan_bri肥猫的空间戏剧像素耶律烨白头老王反客生, yunxiang’s blogHow to…? 1, How to…? 2

My excessive surfing bore fruit: 98% of the pictures in the costume posts (except some elusive pieces) were replaced with bigger, better (and absolutely gorgeous!) photos.

I added a few items that were missing, also polished the descriptions here and there- check it out here and here if you wish.

Thanks a lot to all Chinese jingju fans and photographers who helped out. Photos used are courtesy of 秦钟wzl乌托邦帮刘骏红豆少主行者的镜界慢哥的地盘狠老虎不喂hitan_bri肥猫的空间戏剧像素耶律烨白头老王反客生老道_zjx19841103仁熙蝉想.

Costumes of Beijing Opera (行头·xíngtou)

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Boots and shoes

  • hòudĭxuē(厚底靴)- thick-soled boots; made of black satin or velvet, with ca. 4 inch thick white soles. Worn by laosheng or jing characters in the role of noblemen or heroic figures. There are a few colored and decorated variations, like the boots of the Monkey King, Guan Yu or Zhong Kui. Pic1a
  • cháofāngxuē(朝方靴)- court official’s boots; same as the above, just the soles are somewhat thinner, ca. 1 inch. Previously there were no thick-soled boots, everyone was wearing chaofang, nowadays it’s generally worn by chou characters in the role of government officials, scholars, court eunuchs. Pic2a
  • hŭtóuxuē(虎头靴) – tiger boots;  typically worn with the male reformed armor. Guan Yu’s thick-soled green boots also have tiger heads on the toes. Pic3a
  • báodĭxuē(薄底靴)or kuàixuē(快靴)- thin-soled boots; comfortable, ankle-high leather shoes, worn by male or female military characters. It can be black or colorful and decorated, the female version (căibáodĭ) has a tassel on the toe. Pic4a-1, Pic4a-2 Monkey version: Pic5a
  • xiăománxuē(小蛮靴)- “little Barbarian” shoes; a variation of female baodixue with pointed toes, for non-Han females in acrobatic roles
  • căixié(彩鞋)- colorful shoes; thin-soled, embroidered satin shoes, worn by female characters. Earlier the toe was decorated with an embroidered butterfly, later with a silken tassel. Pic6a
  • qíxié(旗鞋)- Manchu shoes; based on Qing dynasty Manchurian design, worn by non-Han female characters. Depending on which shape the soles resemble, it’s also called huāpéndĭ (花盆底) – flower pot sole, or mătíxié (马蹄鞋) – horse’s hoof shoes. Pic7a
  • dēngyúnlǚ(登云履)-  “high in the clouds” shoes with curvy toe and cloud pattern. It is said a spiritually advanced person is able to walk on clouds. Pic8a
  • fúzìlǚ(福字履)-  “good fortune shoes” with embroidered 壽 (long life) character. Usually worn by elderly commoners (laodan or laosheng), also by the wenxiaosheng. Pic9a

  • căiqiāo(踩跷)-  kind of stilts raising the feet to a tip-toe position. Qiaogong (跷功), the art of imitating bound feet on stage is abandoned in modern China, though not completely banned. Some think that qiaogong is morally incorrect, since it’s popularizing an obsolete tradition that wasn’t easy to wipe out, some oppose it due to plain aesthetic reasons (how could anything anatomically distorted be attractive?), and of course there are the supporters of the skill. Pic10a
    • ruănqiāo(软跷)- soft stilts Pic10a-1
    • yìngqiāo(硬跷)- hard stilts Pic10a-2
  • zàoxié(皂鞋)- lit. “black” or “menial servant” shoes; simple slippers worn by lower ranking characters Pic11a
  • sēngxié(僧鞋)- monk’s slippers Pic12a
  • yúlínsă(鱼鳞洒)- fish scale patterned slippers Pic13a
Pic1a Pic2a
Pic3a Pic4a-1
Pic4a-2 Pic5a
Pic6a Pic7a
Pic8a Pic9a
Pic10a Pic10a-1
Pic10a-2 Pic11a
Pic12a Pic13a

Female laosheng Wang Peiyu’s satin thick-soled boots, bought in Taiwan. This brand is considered the best in Beijing opera circles, she writes. (reference)

The Monkey King’s boots harmonize with his clothes.

Boots of the Underworld Judge have funny soles.

Guan Yu’s green tiger-headed boots.

“Pointe shoes” of Chinese Opera

Mei Lanfang’s student Bi Guyun (毕谷云) wearing caiqiao

Empress Cixi’s Manchu-style platform shoes


  • shuĭyīzĭ(水衣子)- Simple long-sleeved undershirt to absorb perspiration. Everyone on stage is wearing one.
  • pàngăo(胖袄)- “fat jacket”, puffy vest to give the performer a more impressive silhouette and broader shoulders. There’s a small vest (小胖袄) for the laosheng, xiaosheng, wusheng, one with medium shoulder pads (折肩胖袄) for the wenjing and one with bigger round shoulder pads (圆肩胖袄) for the wujing. However, both the role and the performer’s bodily conditions determine which one to wear.
  • căikù(彩裤)- colorful trousers, standard pants worn under most costumes. There are three groups sorted by color: red, black and varicolored, the latter contains all the other colors, also the plain silk and embroidered ones. By type there are loose and tight pants.
  • hùlĭng(护领)- protective collar; protects the main costume, also protects the audience from the sight of the performer’s neck.

On this photo Yu Kuizhi exhibits all four above mentioned items:

Headgear will be discussed separately because I don’t want to create (too many) endless posts.

Costumes of Beijing Opera (行头·xíngtou)

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Clothes (衣·yī)

  • chángyī(长衣)- long clothes
    • kāichăng(开氅)- open overcoat; casual wear for military leaders, warriors etc. and for ministers, officials off duty
      • shī kāichăng(狮开氅)- with lion/tiger/leopard pattern (example: Lian Po in Reconciliation of the General and the Minister) Pic1a
      • tuánshī kāichăng(团狮开氅)- with round lion pattern (example: Zhao Yun in Ganlu Temple) Pic2a
      • qílín kāichăng(麒麟开氅)- with Chinese unicorn pattern (example: Zhao Gao in The Cosmic Blade) Pic3a
      • tuánhuā kāichăng(团花开氅)- with 10 round patterns (example: Lin Xiangru in Reconciliation of the General and the Minister) Pic4a
    • gōngzhuāng(宫装)- palace garment for imperial concubines, princesses when enjoying themselves leisurely (example: The Drunken Concubine) Pic5a
    • gŭzhuāng(古装)- “ancient” garment; creation of Mei Lanfang, designed exclusively for Chang E, the Lady in the Moon
    • yúntáiyī(云台衣)- “cloud terrace” clothes; creation of Mei Lanfang, designed exclusively for Heavenly Goddess Showering Flowers
      Pic6a – Mei Lanfang’s original designs
      Pic7a – Costumes based on these designs
    • guānyī(官衣)- officials’ clothes
      • yībān~(一般官衣)- common official garment (example: Lu Su) Pic8a
      • qīng ~(青官衣)- black without a badge (补子); lowest position deputies, bureaucrats, managers (example: Zhang Xiu in Battle of Wancheng) Pic9a
      • xuéshì ~(学士官衣)- black with a square badge and a special headwear; officials with a “bachelor’s degree” (example: Zhang Xiu in Battle of Wancheng) Pic10a
      • hóng ~(红官衣)- red with square badge; county magistrates (example: Tang Qin) Pic11a
      • nǚ ~(女官衣)- shorter female version; for women who have been granted some title (example: Xie Yaohuan) Pic12a
      • găiliáng ~(改良官衣)- reformed for plainly aesthetic reasons; with golden round badge instead square (example: Lu Su in Battle of Red Cliff) Pic13a
    • xuéshìyī(学士衣)- for scholars who haven’t passed theirs exams yet (example: Cao Zhi in Goddess of Luo River; Bai Shizhong in Riverside Pavilion) Pic14a
    • lánshān(蓝衫)- “indigo garment” (example: Cheng Ying in The Orphan of the Zhao Family) Pic15a
    •  jiànyī(箭衣)- archer clothes
      • căixiùlóng ~(彩绣龙箭衣)- with colorful embroidered dragon; highest ranking characters (example: Zhou Yu in Meeting of Heroes) Pic16a
      • píngjīnlóng ~(平金龙箭衣)- with flat golden dragon; high-ranking characters (example: Shan Xiongxin) Pic17a
      • huā ~(花箭衣)- with multicolored floral pattern; middle-ranking characters (example: Yang Bajie in Blocking the Horse) Pic18a
      • tuánhuā ~(团花箭衣)- with round decorative pattern; middle-ranking characters (example: Yang Wenguang, Zhao Wu) Pic19a
      • sù ~(素箭衣)- plain raw silk without embroidery, black, white, blue, violet, gray colors; lower-ranking characters, ordinary soldiers Pic20a
      • bù ~(布箭衣)- plain cotton; lowest ranking characters (example: Chong Gongdao in Yu Tangchun) Pic21a
    • lóngtàoyī(龙套衣)-attendants’ clothes; court personnel (example: Wenji’s entourage personnel in Wenji Returns to Han Land) Pic22a
    • tàijiànyī(太监衣) – eunuch’s robe, a mang with silk cord belt
      • xiélĭng ~(斜领太监衣)- with crossover neck; junior palace eunuchs Pic23a
      • yuánlĭng ~(圆领太监衣)-  with round neck; chief palace eunuchs Pic24a
    • dàkăi(大铠)- “big armor”, simpler than the kao, without flags; palace guards, minor generals Pic25a
    • màodīngkăi(帽钉铠)- simplest armor with a special headwear; guard of high-ranking military officer Pic26a
Pic1a Pic2a Pic3a
Pic4a Pic5a Pic6a
Pic7a Pic8a Pic9a
Pic10a Pic11a Pic12a
Pic13a Pic14a Pic15a
Pic16a Pic17a Pic18a
Pic19a Pic20a Pic21a
Pic22a Pic23a Pic24a
Pic25a  Pic26a
  • duănyī(短衣)- short clothes
    • bàoyī(抱衣)- “clothes holding tight”, possible spelling 豹衣 (panther clothes), casual wear for heroic figures; dark for senior, light for junior warriors
      • huābàoyī(花抱衣)- decorated, tied onto the chest with cord; also called duandayi, clothes worn by the duanda wusheng (example: Ren Tanghui in At the Crossroads) Pic1b
      • sùbàoyī(素抱衣)-  plain (example: Xiao En in The Fishermen’s Revenge) Pic2b
    • kuăyī(侉衣)- possible spelling kuàiyī(快衣), “fast” clothes for acrobatic roles
      • huākuăyī(花侉衣)- decorated (example: Liu Lihua in At the Crossroads) Pic3b
      • sùkuăyī(素侉衣)- plain (example: Mu Yuji in White Water Shoal) Pic4b
    • măguà(马褂)- “horse coat”, buttoned riding jacket for traveling
      • lóng ~(龙马褂)- with dragon; highest ranking characters Pic5b
      • tuánhuā ~(团花马褂)- with round pattern; military commanders, bodyguards Pic6b
      • huáng ~(黄马褂)- simple yellow; entourage personnel Pic7b
    • cháyī(茶衣)- “tea (colored) clothes”; lowest ranking characters, manual workers, boatmen etc. (example: the old boatman in Qiu River) Pic8b
    • dàxiù’ér(大袖儿)- “big sleeved” clothes with apron-like skirt; shopkeepers (tea house, wine shop) Pic9b
    • duìjīn sēngyī(对襟僧衣)- open monk clothes (example: Lu Zishen in Wildboar Forest) Pic10b
    • zuìyī(罪衣)- prisoner’s clothes
      • nán ~(男罪衣)- male (Lin Chong in Wildboar Forest when arrested) Pic11b (Picture shows the xiepi version (斜披罪衣), used when the character is transported. The average prisoner wears a plain red jacket.)
      • nǚ ~(女罪衣)- female (example: Su San) Pic12b
    • kuàizĭshŏuyī(刽子手衣)- executioner’s clothes Pic13b
    • ăoqún(袄裙)- jacket and skirt, casual wear for the huadan and young girls Pic14b
    • ăokù(袄裤)- jacket and pants, same as above just with trousers; maid servants, village girls Pic15b
    • zhànăo zhànqún(战袄战裙)- battle jacket, battle skirt for the wudan; swordswomen (example: Yang Paifeng in Chu Feng Ling Kong) Pic16b
    • căipóăo(彩婆袄)- jacket and trousers for the caidan; old women, matchmakers, unattractive females Pic17b
    • bīngyī(兵衣)- soldier clothes; regimental soldiers Pic18b; heavenly soldiers Pic19b
    • shàngxiàshŏuyī(上下手衣)- clothes of combat soldiers Pic20b
    • zhànyì(战衣)-  clothes of female combat soldiers Pic21b
Pic1b Pic2b  Pic3b
Pic4b Pic5b  Pic6b
Pic7b Pic8b  Pic9b
Pic10b Pic11b  Pic12b
Pic13b Pic14b  Pic15b
Pic16b Pic17b  Pic18b
Pic19b Pic20b Pic21b
  • zhuānyòngyī(专用衣)- special clothes
    • bāguàyī(八卦衣)- “eight trigrams clothes”, robe with the 8 divinatory symbols and yin-yang symbol; learned and skilled characters, military strategists (example: Zhuge Liang in Empty City Strategy) Pic1c
    • mă pài bāguàyī(马派八卦衣)- same as above just fancier, creation of Ma Lianliang Pic2c
    • hèchăng(鹤氅) – “crane overcoat”, the cranes taking off hint at major Daoist success or a celestial being (example: Zhuge Liang in Battle of Red Cliff) Pic3c
    • făyī(法衣)- Priest’s clothes; ceremonial costume for Daoist priests or immortals (example: Zhuge Liang in Using the Eastern Wind) Pic4c
    • xiānnǚyī(仙女衣)- “fairy clothes”; for heavenly maidens (example: Heavenly Goddess Showering Flowers) Note: It seems that nowadays the Mei Lanfang version (Pic7a) is used far and wide. Pic5c
    • yúlínjiă(鱼鳞甲)- “fish scales armor”; modeling the early Chinese leather and metal scale armor (example: Consort Yu in Farewell My Concubine) Pic6c
    • qízhuāng(旗装)or qípáo(旗袍)- “Manchu garment” ; casual clothes not only for Manchurian, but for women of any nationality other than Han (example: Princess Tiejing in Silang Visits His Mother) Pic7c
    • bŭfú(补服)- “badge garment”, surcoat with a badge for officials (example: the two brothers of the Liao Empress in Silang Visits His Mother) Pic8c
    • jiāshā(袈裟)- Chief Buddhist monk’s patchwork-style vestment (example: Fahai in Tale of the White Snake) Pic9c
    • luóhànyī(罗汉衣)- “arhat clothes”, for Buddhist holy men who attained nirvana (example: Lu Zhishen in Wildboar Forest) Pic10c
    • nézhàyī(哪吒衣)- garment specially for Nezha (Daoist protection deity, the “trickster god”) Pic11c
    • zhōngkuíyī(钟馗衣)- garment specially for Zhong Kui (mythological figure, driving away evil spirits) Pic12c
    • guĭzúyī(鬼卒衣)- “ghost servant clothes” (example: the ghosts in Zhong Kui Marries Off His Younger Sister) Pic13c
    • zhìdùyī(制度衣)- combat clothes for Sun Wukong, the Monkey King; monkey version of archer clothes Pic14c
    • hóuyī(猴衣)- “monkey clothes”; monkey version of the huabaoyi (example: Sun Wukong in Havoc in Heaven) Pic15c
    • xiăohóuyī(小猴衣)- “little monkey clothes”; for young monkeys  Pic16c
    • hóujiă(猴甲)- monkey scale armor Pic17c
    • sēngpáo(僧袍)- Buddhist monk’s robe (example: the abbot in the Romance of the West Chamber) Pic18c
    • xiăosēngpáo(小僧袍)- young Buddhist monk’s robe, same as above just shorter with narrower sleeves
Pic1c Pic2c Pic3c
Pic4c Pic5c Pic6c
Pic7c Pic8c Pic9c
Pic10c Pic11c Pic12c
Pic13c Pic14c Pic15c
Pic16c Pic17c Pic18c
  • pèijiàn(配件)- accessories
    • kănjiān(坎肩)- vest
      • xiùlóng dàkănjiān(绣龙大坎肩)- long vest with embroidered dragon (example: Jin Linggong in The Orphan of the Zhao Family) Pic1d
      • sù dàkănjiān(素大坎肩)- plain long vest Pic2d
      • nǚ dàkănjiān(女大坎肩)- female long vest Pic3d
      • lăodàn dàkănjiān(老旦大坎肩)- long vest for old women Pic4d
      • sēng ~(僧坎肩)- Buddhist monk’s vest Pic5d
      • dàogū ~(道姑坎肩)- Daoist nun’s vest Pic6d
      • zú ~(卒坎肩)- servant’s vest (example: the two military servants in Empty City Strategy) Pic7d
      • shuĭtiánwén ~(水田纹坎肩)- “rice field pattern” vest (example: Chen Miaochang in Qiu Jiang) Pic8d
      • dàjīn xiăokănjiān(大襟小坎肩)- female short vest with big overlap Pic9d
      • pípájīn xiăokănjiān(琵琶襟小坎肩)- short vest with pipa overlap, based on Manchurian design; for non-Han females Pic10d
    • fàndān(饭单)- apron
      • dà~(大饭单)- large Pic11d (example: Liu Yingchun in Fen River Bay)
      • xiăo~(小饭单)- small Pic12d
    • dŏupéng(斗蓬)- cape
      • lóng ~(龙斗蓬)- dragon cape; highest ranking characters Pic13d
      • nǚ fèng ~(女凤斗篷)- female phoenix cape; equivalent of male’s dragon cape Pic14d
      • huā ~(花斗蓬)- male flower cape; middle ranking characters
      • nǚ huā ~(女花斗蓬)- female flower cape Pic15d
      • sù ~(素斗蓬)- plain cape Pic16d
      • nǚ sù~(女素斗蓬)- female plain cape, it has a decent pattern or a decorated border Pic17d
      • xiăo ~(小斗蓬)- short cape (example: Su Wu when herding sheep) Pic18d
    • suōyī(蓑衣)- woven rush raincoat (example: Tan Jier in Riverside Pavilion) Pic19d
    • băizhéqún(百折裙)- skirt with “hundred pleats”; worn by qingyi Pic20d
    • dàzhéqún(大折裙)- skirt with wide pleats; worn with hongpei or by the laodan Pic21dPic22d
    • tŏngqún(筒裙)- “tube skirt”, shorter skirt worn outside the main skirt (example: Hong Niang) Pic23d
    • shuĭqún(水裙)- “water skirt”, white double male skirt; for common people (fishermen, boatmen, woodcutters etc.) see: Pic24d
    • guŏtuĭ(裹腿)- “leg wrap”, binding on the lower leg to keep trousers tight and convenient; for horsegroom boys, possibly soldiers Pic25d
    • lĭngyī’ér(领衣儿)- cummerbund used with archer clothes; for non-Han soldiers Pic26d
    • nán dăyāobāo(男打腰包)- pleated, apron-like skirt for males, indicates that the person caught an illness Pic27d, Pic28d (imperial version)
    • nǚ dăyāobāo(女打腰包)- female version of the above, for sick or pregnant women Pic29d
Pic1d Pic2d Pic3d
Pic4d Pic5d Pic6d
Pic7d Pic8d Pic9d
Pic10d Pic11d Pic12d
Pic13d Pic14d Pic15d
Pic16d Pic17d Pic18d
Pic19d Pic20d Pic21d
Pic22d Pic23d Pic24d
Pic25d Pic26d Pic27d
Pic28d Pic29d

This post was… a bit exhausting.

Sources: Hudong WikiBeijing Opera Costumes by Alexandra B. BondsAppreciating Traditional Design,Confucius Institute Online「Clothes Chest」,

Photos:  秦钟wzl乌托邦帮刘骏红豆少主行者的镜界慢哥的地盘狠老虎不喂hitan_bri肥猫的空间戏剧像素耶律烨白头老王反客生CCTV “Theatre in the Air” ForumOperaphoto.comPhotofans.cnCultural China NetScrapbook from Beijing

Recommended site:
For a complete picture list of Beijing Opera costumes, accessories, shoes, jewelry, beards and hairs visit this Taiwanese site:
[ – Cultural relics of jingju]

Copyright notice: The pictures below pop up frequently on different websites, but actually they belong to The Honan Opera Troupe of The National Guoguang Opera Company (Taiwan), and are free for non-commercial use, especially for educational purposes.

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Costume items

(click for bigger size)

Source: 「Clothes Chest」

Costumes of Beijing Opera (行头·xíngtou)

Recently I had to face the fact that I know nothing about costumes, so started to work on this defect of mine. As title indicates, my final goal with this series of interrelated posts is to compile a more or less complete list of Jingju costumes, sorting them out as logically as possible, to ease the quick identification of characters.

Please note that there are excellent books discussing the subject in full, but my perspective was to keep things simple, and create an “in one glance” post. Thus there are no elaborate descriptions, but an example and a picture is provided to each costume, hopefully inspiring people to do further research on the subject. (Examples and pictures don’t match!)

Many things, like the colors and patterns of costumes, additional or removed pieces of a character’s garment, hairstyles and the hundreds of props gradually start to make perfect sense by itself as you watch Beijing opera videos, especially full-length performances. Why are the pants of the caidan too short? Because it looks funny! As in every aspect of life, common sense is the greatest help.

The major costumes can be divided into 4 groups: mang (court robes), pei (formal wear), xuezi (informal wear) and kao (armor). Everything else goes under umbrella term yi (clothes). In the first part main costumes are discussed. I decided to keep the tone marks in romanized words since I firmly believe it helps a lot in more aspects.

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Reoccuring terms

(Note: Be careful not to say “symbols”. Chinese people get freaked out if you say so.)

Anything that is “xiépī” (slanted) is almost the same as the “regular” version of that garment, but has some distinct feature, i.e. covers only one shoulder, has only one sleeve or is buttoned wrongly.

Court robes (蟒·măng)

Mang (literally “python”) comes from manglong (蟒龙), term for Chinese dragon (since it kinda looks like a big snake on legs). The garments worn by ministers during the Ming and Qing dynasties were practically identical to the emperor’s “dragon robe”, the longpao (龙袍), but obviously they had to come up with a different name from the royal garment, thus officials’ outfits were called “python robe”, mangpao (蟒袍).

  • lóngmăng(龙蟒)- male dragon robe
    • hóng tuánlóng măng(红团龙蟒)– red “round dragon” robe (example: Wang Jinlong in Yu Tangchun) Pic1a
    • lǜ tuánlóng măng(绿团龙蟒)– green ~ (example: Guan Yu in Meeting in Gucheng) Pic2a
    • huáng tuánlóng măng(黄团龙蟒)– yellow ~ (example: Liu Xiu in Suicide at the Palace) Pic3a
    • báisè tuánlóng măng(白色团龙蟒)– white ~ (example: Huang Tianba in Chain of Traps) Pic4a
    • hēi tuánlóng măng(黑团龙蟒)– black ~ (example: Xiang Yu in Farewell my Concubine) Pic5a
    • fúzì xínglóng măng(福字行龙蟒)– black “lucky characters and walking dragon” robe (example: Bao Zheng) Pic6a
    • tŭshuǐ dàlóng măng(吐水大龙蟒)– vivid “water-spitting big dragon” robe (example: Cao Cao in Gathering of Heroes)
    • pánshēn dàlóng măng(盘身大龙蟒)– “coiled around the body” big dragon robe, with one enormous, long dragon Pic7a
    • xìzhū dàlóng măng(戏珠大龙蟒)– “big dragon playing with pearl” robe, black with a single fire-breathing dragon and pearl (example: Zhang Fei in Back to Jingzhou) Pic8a
    • xìzhū xínglóng măng(戏珠行龙蟒)– same as above but with two symmetrically arranged walking dragons (example: Sun Quan in Ganlu Temple)
    • xiépī nánmăng(斜披男蟒)- has pennants but no armor (example: Zhou Yu when reviewing troops) Pic9a
  • Guan Yu’s green robe with round lion pattern Pic10a
  • The Monkey King’s yellow court robe Pic11a
  • nǚmăng(女蟒)– female, same as men’s, just knee-length with a skirt under
    • xínglóng ~(行龙女蟒)– same as men’s walking dragon design (example: The Drunken Concubine) Pic12a
    • tuánfèng ~(团凤女蟒)– “round phoenix”, phoenix and peony design (example: Sun Shangxiang in The Auspicious Dragon and Phoenix) Pic13a
    • xiépī ~(斜披女蟒)-  has pennants but no armor (example: Mu Guiying when reviewing troops) Pic14a
    • lăodàn măng(老旦蟒)– old women’s robe, dragon or dragon and phoenix design (example: She Taijun) Pic15a
  • găiliáng măng(改良蟒)– reformed in the 1900s, first at South, later at North by Wang Yaoqing, Ma Lianliang, Mei Lanfang. In typical Southern plays these garments appear frequently, since it’s easier to move in them, and Zhou Xinfang’s style relies significantly on costume and prop usage.
    •  tuánxínglóng ~(团行龙改良蟒)– simplier round dragon design (example: Wang Yanling in Beheading Chen Shimei) Pic16a
    • căolóng ~(草龙改良蟒)– with an even more simple single dragon and soft belt (example: Kuai Che in Army at Huai River) Pic17a
  • qímăng(旗蟒)– “Manchu court robe”, based on Qing times Manchurian garments; not only for Manchu, but for women of any nationality other than Han (example: Princess Tiejing, Princess Daizhan) Pic18a
  • jiànmăng(箭蟒)- “archer” court robe (example: Emperor Yongle in Losing and Getting Back the Official Seal) Pic19a
Pic1a Pic2a Pic3a
Pic4a Pic5a Pic6a
Pic7a Pic8a Pic9a
Pic10a Pic11a Pic12a
Pic13a Pic14a Pic15a
Pic16a Pic17a  Pic18a

Formal wear (帔·pèi)

Sometimes also called and written as pī (披).

  • Imperial
    • huángpèi(皇帔)or tuánlóng pèi(团龙帔)- emperor’s bright yellow robe with round dragon design (example: Liu Xiu in Suicide at the Palace) Pic1b
    • nǚ huángpèi(女皇帔)or tuánfèng pèi(团凤帔)- empress’ or imperial concubine’s bright yellow robe with round phoenix design (example: Guo Fei in Suicide at the Palace) Pic2b
    • lăodàn huángpèi(老旦皇帔)or tuánlóngfèng pèi(团龙凤帔)- empress dowager’s bright yellow robe with round dragon and phoenix design (example: Wuguotai in The Auspicious Dragon and Phoenix) Pic3b
  • Middle class
    • nán tuánhuāpèi(男团花帔)- male, with round patterns of auspicious characters, symbols, cranes (example: Liu Yanchang in Sacrificing the Second Son) Pic4b
    • nǚ tuánhuāpèi(女团花帔)- female, with rich round patterns of auspicious characters, symbols, peonies (example: Mrs. Sun in  Sun An Dong Ben) Pic5b
    • lăodàn tuánhuāpèi(老旦团花帔)–  old women’s, with round patterns (example: Mrs. Cui in The Romance of the Western Chamber) Pic6b
    • nǚ huāpèi(女花帔)- pink, emerald green, sky blue with lively peony, orchid, plum blossom pattern for young girls; ivory white and unadorned for tragic female characters
      • symmetrical pattern(对称纹样 ~)- (example: Cui Yingying) Pic7b
      • equally distributed pattern(均衡纹样 ~)- (example: Du Liniang in Walk in the Garden – A Dream Interrupted) Pic8b
    • hóngpèi(红帔)- male, festive red with golden circles design (example: Bai Shizong) Pic9b
    • nǚhóngpèi(女红帔)- same as above for females (example: Tan Jier) Pic9b
    • xiépī nǚpèi(斜披女帔)- “wrongly buttoned”, expressing that a woman gone insane, or pretends so (example: Zhao Yanrong in The Cosmic Blade) Pic10b
    • guānyīnpèi(观音帔)- white with silver bamboo pattern (specially for Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy) Pic11b
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Informal, everyday wear (褶子·xuézĭ)

  • huāxué(花褶)- decorated garment, sorted by role
    • wénxiăoshēng ~(文小生花褶)- (example: Zhang Gong in Hong Niang) Pic1c
    • wénxiăoshēng huātuōlĭng ~(文小生花托领花褶)- same as above just more simple, decorated only at the collar (example: Zhang Gong in Hong Niang) Pic2c, also see Pic19c
    • wŭxiăoshēng ~(武小生花褶)- (example: Zhou Yu in Jiang Gan Steals the Letter) Pic3c
    • huāliăn ~(花脸花褶)- (example: Zhou Chu in Eliminating Three Evils) Pic4c
    • wŭshēng ~(武生花褶)- (example: Lin Chong in Wildboar Forest) Pic5c
    • wénchŏu(文丑花褶)- (example: Jiang Gan in Jiang Gan Steals the Letter) Pic6c
    • wŭchŏu ~(武丑花褶)- (example: Yang Xiangwu in San Dao Jiu Longbei) Pic7c
    • nǚhuāxué(女花褶)- (example: Chen Xiuying in Romance of the Iron Bow) Pic8c
    • nǚhuāzhé with yúnjiān(女花褶配云肩)- for palace maids, same as above with “cloud shoulders” Pic9c
  • sùxué(素褶)- plain raw silk or cotton garment
    • sèxuézĭ(色褶子)- colored (red, indigo, deep blue, copper, autumn colored), mostly for old men (example: Song Shijie in Four Successful Candidates) Pic10c
    • qīngxuézĭ(青褶子)- black, for poor commoners (example: Fan Zhongyu in Qiong Lin Yan) Pic11c
    • hăiqīng(海青)or yuànzĭyī(院子衣)- black satin with wide black collar, for lower class heroes (example: Qin Qiong, Shi Xiu, Wu Song), also uniform of courtyard servants (example: Wang Zhong) Pic12c
    • xiépī sùxué(斜披素褶)- traveling clothes for lower class heroes (example: Qin Qiong when revising troops) Pic13c
    • zĭhuā lăodŏuyī(紫花老斗衣)- zihua refers to a plant whose root provides the violet dye, laodou is an obsolete term for lowest rung elderly men (example: Zhang Yuanxiu in Leifeng Pagoda) Pic14c
    • fùguìyī(富贵衣)or qióngyī(穷衣)- “garment of wealth and honor” or “poor clothes” with patches, symbolizing that these kind of unrestrained scholars possibly gain wealth and nobility at the end (example: Xue Pinggui in Red-maned Fiery Horse before he scores big) Pic15c
    • duăntiào(短跳)- convenient garment, same as sèxuézĭ just shorter, possibly with decorated collar, mostly for boy servants Pic16c
    • ānānyī(安安衣)- children’s garment, without watersleeves, shorter than the duăntiào Pic17c
    • qīngpáo(青袍)- the lowest rank of sùzhé, black without watersleeves, for forced laborers, servants and similar Pic18c
  • nǚqīngxuézĭ(女青褶子)- for poor women (example: Han Yuniang in Regret Through Life and Death) Pic19c
  • găiliáng nǚqīngxuézĭ(改良女青褶子)- reformed ~ (example: Qin Xianglian) Pic20c
  • nǚfùguìyī(女富贵衣)- “garment of wealth and honor” for women (example: Zhang Huizhu in Tears of Barren Hill) Pic21c
  • lăodàn xuézĭ(老旦褶子)- for poor, elderly women (example: Mrs. Kang from Gold Tortoise Fishing) Pic22c
  • nǚbáixuézĭ(女白褶子)- white mourning clothes with lotus flower borders (example: Mu Guiying in the mourning hall) (In real life mourning clothes had no decoration at all, but to look beautiful Beijing opera changed this custom. Lotus flowers were picked for pattern since those are offered as sacrifice at memorial services.) Pic23c
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Armor (靠·kào)

  • yìngkào(硬靠)- firm armor; full armor with kàoqí(靠旗)(banners) (example: Zhao Yun) Pic1d
  • nǚyìngkào(女硬靠)- same for women (example: any female general in battle) Pic2d
  • găiliáng kào(改良靠)- reformed armor, originally created by Zhou Xinfang for Liu Bei in Zhang Song Offering the Map Pic3d
  • nǚ găiliáng kào(女改良靠)- same for women (example: Hu Sanniang in Village of the Hu Family) Pic4d
  • ruănkào(软靠)- soft armor, without banners (example: Lei Wanchun in Dao Pi San Guan) Pic5d
  • Guān Yŭ kào(关羽靠)- specially for Guan Yu (picture shows two versions) Pic6d
  • bàwángkào(霸王靠)- specially for Xiang Yu in Farewell My Concubine Pic7d
  • A version of female soft armor Pic8d
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Recommended site:
For a complete picture list of Beijing Opera costumes, accessories, shoes, jewelry, beards and hairs visit this Taiwanese site:
[ – Cultural relics of jingju]

Copyright notice: The pictures below pop up frequently on different websites, but actually they belong to The Honan Opera Troupe of The National Guoguang Opera Company (Taiwan), and are free for non-commercial use, especially for educational purposes.

Navigation: [Main costumes] · [+ pictures] · [Clothes] · [+ pictures] · [Accessories 1] · [Accessories 2]

Costume items

(click for bigger size)

Source: 「Clothes Chest」

Roles in Beijing Opera

Jingju roles are divided into 4 main types (male, female, painted face, clown), with several sub-categories. I found it will be the best to use indented lists with short descriptions and photos to sort out these kind of things.
Get more or less familiar with the roles, watch many Beijing opera and you’ll recognize characters in Planck time.

  • shēng(生):male role
    • xūshēng(须生)(lit. bearded) or lăoshēng(老生)(lit. old):bearded male role
      • āngōng(安工)(lit. peaceful) or chànggōng(唱工)(lit. singing):monarchs, officials, scholars Pic1
      • kàobă(靠把)(lit. armour wearing):generals, military leaders Pic2
      • shuāipài(衰派)(lit. weak, feeble):destitute or dejected characters Pic3
    • hóngshēng(红生)(lit. red):laosheng with a red painted face Pic4
    • xiăoshēng(小生)(lit. small):young male role
      • língzishēng(翎子生)(lit. peacock feathered):generals, aristocrats with pheasant tail feathers on their helmets Pic5
      • shāmàoshēng(纱帽生)(lit. gauze cap wearing):government officials Pic6
      • shānzishēng(扇子生)(lit. fan holding):scholars, penmen, copyists etc. Pic7
      • qióngshēng(穷生)(lit. poor, sore):poor scholars Pic8
    • wŭshēng(武生):acrobatic  fighting role
      • chángkào ~(长靠)(lit. long weapon, full military costume):generals in platform-soled shoes Pic9
      • duăndă ~(短打)(lit. short weapon, fighting) :athletic soldiers in flat-soled shoes Pic10
    • mò(末):elderly men, generally wise and righteous Pic11
    • wáwáshēng(娃娃生):children’s role Pic12
  • dàn(旦):female role
    • qīngyī(青衣)(lit. greenish black/youthful clothes):noble female role;  good wives, loving mothers Pic13
    • huādàn(花旦)(lit. flowery, fancy):vivacious young females; flirty misses, funny maids, village girls etc. Pic14
    • huāshān(花衫)(lit. fancy garment):combination of qingyi and huadan; imperial concubines, noble madams, princesses Pic15
    • wŭdàn(武旦):acrobatic fighting role Pic16
    • dāomădàn(刀马旦)(lit. sword and horse):female warrior role of any age; female marshals, generals Pic17
    • lăodàn(老旦)(lit. old):elderly women Pic18
  •  jìng(净)(lit. clean, only) or huāliăn(花脸)(lit. decorated face):painted face role
    •  zhèngjìng(正净)(lit. real jing) or dàhuāliăn(大花脸)(lit. big painted face);  tóngchuí(铜锤)(lit. copper hammer) Pic19 , hēiliăn(黑脸)(lit. black face) Pic20:mostly rely on singing
    • jiàzĭ huāliăn(架子花脸)or fùjìng(副净)(lit. secondary jing):mostly rely on speaking and acting skills Pic21
    • wŭhuāliăn(武花脸)or wŭjìng(武净):mostly rely on martial skills and fighting Pic22
    • shuāidă huāliăn(摔打花脸)(lit. jumping and fighting):mostly rely on acrobatic skills
  •  chǒu(丑):clown
    • wén ~(文):literary, civil
      • guānwén ~(官文)or páodài(袍带)(lit. uniform wearing):low ranking officials, minor functionaries Pic23
      • fāngjīn ~(方巾)(lit. square hat):scholars,  Confucian scholars Pic24
      • jīnzĭ ~(巾子):inbetween of fangjin and chayi; often funny old men Pic25
      • cháyī ~(茶衣)(lit. tea clothes):lower class workers Pic26
      • căidàn(彩旦)(lit. bright color):ugly female, played by men Pic27
    • wŭ ~(武):acrobatic, fighting Pic28
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Photos:, CCTV Forums,