Last Updated: November 15, 2023, 11:29 IST
Sichuan Opera, which originated in China’s Sichuan province, is one of the country’s oldest and most popular forms of Opera. A part of this art form is Bian Lian, which means face changing. It is a dramatic art form where performers wear bright masks and costumes and move quickly to music. The instant changing of the face happens with the swipe of a fan, movement of the head or wave of a hand. A video of the same is going viral on social media and has left the internet curious.
In the video, a woman can be seen dressed in bright-coloured attire and a mask. She shakes hands with another woman who is being assumed to be a spectator. The Chinese woman then moves her finger from her nose to her lips, and within a split second, the mask is gone. The viewers were taken by complete surprise at this sudden movement and the revelation of the face behind the mask. The woman from the audience too burst out laughing at this rapid movement.
The clip took the internet by storm and garnered more than 5 million views on X (formerly known as Twitter). The caption read, “Bian Lian (Face-Changing) is a Chinese art form in Sichuan opera where performers rapidly change masks to depict different characters using fans, head movements, or hand waves. Watch the speed here.”
Bian Lian (Face-Changing) is a Chinese art form in Sichuan opera where performers rapidly change masks to depict different characters using fans, head movements, or hand waves.Watch the speed here pic.twitter.com/aZxWZWq00y
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) November 14, 2023
Many users were totally in awe of the art form. One asked, “What the hell happened there?” A social media user commented, “When you train for something so much that it looks like magic.” Another wrote, “Bian Lian is always amazing to watch. I’m curious and amused by how performers can change their faces so quickly. I hope it is passed down for a long time.”
Performers in Bian Lian incorporate elaborate costumes and dance movements to enhance the experience of a visual spectacle. Like every other art form, this too requires extensive training, skill and coordination. The performer needs to nail the physical technique of changing the mask quickly with movements. This particular art form has a rich cultural history and is popular because of its alluring aspect that piques curiosity.