Li Gang - 11

183 Beijing Operas - Li Gang - Number 11

Li Gang

Beijing Opera - "A Picture of Qingyang"

Li Gang with a flowering black-cross face in "A Picture of Qingyang," adapted from an episode in "History of the Eastern Zhou." Li Gang was a general under King Li of Zhou. When King Nan of Zhou was enthroned at Qingyang, he gave Li Gang the honorary title of Three Thousand Years (the honorary title of a king or emperor in feudal times was Ten Thousand Years).

A dictum familiar to most Peking opera fans, "No Red for the Three Gangs," illustrates how colors represent human character. The three Gangs (Li Gang, Yao Gang, and Xue Gang) were bold and obstinate, but in Peking operas they are portrayed as solemn and serious, so no red is allowed in their facial make-up, not even on their lips, and no pink powder (which symbolizes humor) is applied to their cheeks. By contrast, in operas adapted from the Romance of the Yang Family the cheeks of the two characters Meng Liang and Jiao Zan are powdered pink because these two men are humorous by nature. In Hongyang Cave, however, the two no longer have pink cheeks, for this opera portrays them as old people whose temperaments have changed

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