Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. The island of Taiwan was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aborigines before Han Chinese began immigrating to the island in the 17th century CE. The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of various sources, incorporating elements of traditional Chinese culture, attributable to the historical and ancestry origin of the majority of its current residents, Japanese culture, traditional Confucianist beliefs, Taoist and Buddhist influence, and increasingly Western values.
Bold and colourful painted face masks from the Peking opera are one of the most visually arresting features during Taiwanese temple festivals, Taoist street parades and cultural shows. These masks date back to the ancient tradition of face-painting among warriors and, as with war paint, the colours and patterns bear symbolic meanings. The spirit and personality of each character is effectively colour coded.
The exaggerated paints on a Peking opera performer's face, which ancient warriors used to scare the enemy, are a common occurrence during Taiwanese temple festivals, Taoist street parades and cultural shows. Each colour has a different meaning. They are used to describe a character's emotional state and general character (colour psychology):
- White represents sinister, evil, crafty, treacherous, and suspicious behaviour. Any performer with white painted face usually takes the part of a villain of the show; the larger the white painted area, the crueller the role.
- Green denotes impulsive behaviour, violence, and lack of self-control.
- Red indicates bravery or loyalty.
- Black means boldness, fierceness, and impartiality.
- Yellow symbolizes ambition, fierceness, and intelligence.
- Blue implies steadfastness, for someone who is loyal and sticks to one side no matter what.
- Pink typifies sophistication and cool-headedness.
- Additionally, gold and silver stand for mystery and aloofness.
The various types of facial makeup from the Peking opera can be seen during many Taiwanese temple festivals and Taoist street parades in Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung. All the historical characters of the traditional Peking opera are provided with different types of facial makeup and reflect the identity, status, and personality of the characters.
More closeup street portraits of painted faces from Taiwan in Matt Hahnewald's
More closeup street portraits of masked beauties from Taiwan in Matt Hahnewald's