Amazing Masks

I was in Nanjing recently and was astonished by Bian lian 变脸. The face changing, or “bian lian” in Chinese, is an important aspect of Chinese Sichuan opera. Performers wave their arms and twist their heads, and their painted masks change repeatedly.

I am a great fan of masks in performance, and this is a wonderful clip (courtesy of my colleague John) of some exquisite masks made by Wladysław Teodor Benda who was a Polish-American painter, illustrator, and designer. He was an accomplished mask maker and costume designer. His sculpted, papier-mache face masks were used in plays and dances and often in his own paintings and illustrations. In this film from 1932, he is demonstrating some of his creation

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