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Beijing Opera Sculpture, 'Zhong Kui, Ghost Catcher'

Beijing Opera Sculpture, 'Zhong Kui, Ghost Catcher'

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This framed wall hanging features the clay sculpture of Zhong Kui, the famouse Chinese Ghost Catcher. Hand cast and hand painted in a red gown, Zhong is holding his sword in a Kongfu stance, ready to strike the evil spirits.

According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Pin, a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital. Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of "zhuangyuan (superior scholar)" was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps. Du Ping buried him. After Zhong became king of ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on the Chinese New Year's Eve. To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui married his younger sister to Du.

Zhong Kui's popularity in folklore can be traced to the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (712~756). According to Song Dynasty sources, once the Emperor Xuanzong was gravely ill. He had a dream in which he saw two ghosts. The smaller of the ghosts stole a purse from imperial consort Yang Guifei and a flute belonging to the emperor. The bigger ghost, wearing the hat of an official, captured the smaller ghost, tore out his eye and ate it. The bigger ghost then introduced himself as Zhong Kui. He said that he had sworn to rid the empire of evil. When the emperor awoke, he had recovered from his illness.

Beijing opera of China dates back to the year 1790. With a history of over 200 years, Beijing Opera, which originated in Beijing, is the operatic form commanding the biggest following. Beijing Opera combines music, acrobatic dance, and spectacular costumes to tell stories from Chinese history and folklore.

The costumes in Beijing opera are graceful, magnificent, elegant and brilliant, most of which are made in handicraft embroidery. Besides the costumes, the actors also painted their faces with colorful paints. The facial makeup has various designs of lines and colored patches painted on the faces of certain operatic characters.
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