Long white silk sleeves

Updated: 2011-02-25 10:50


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Long white sleeves are used in performances of classical Chinese operas and dances. They are 0.5 metre long but the longest of them can reach more than one metre. When being swung on stage, the long white silk sleeves look like ripples in a river. It goes without saying that our ancients were wearing loose-fitting sleeves which had no pieces of white silk attached. The long white silk sleeves are a means of exaggeration to enhance the aesthetic effects on stage.

Long white silk sleeves

The movement of swinging such sleeves helps making up for the shortage of language, giving expression to the identity, personality and feelings of the character portrayed, and enhancing the appeals of the dancing movements. Tossing the sleeves outward means that the character is in anger; shaking them incessantly means that the character is shivering with fear; failing them skyward indicates that certain disaster or injustice has just befallen on the character; and waving the sleeves to tidy up one's costume means that the character is about to see an elderly whom he or she holds in high esteem.

Long white silk sleeves

The use of the long white silk sleeves changes according to the changes in the character's inner world. Playing such sleeves is one of the basic skills of traditional Chinese opera.

Long white silk sleeves

Long white silk sleeves


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