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Anna's Vanity Website: Chinese Opera Costumes

ADDITIONAL IMAGES see: DragonCon 2005 section

I got obsessed with chinese opera for about a year. Accumulated 5 costumes and tons of books and media on the subject. If you are intrigued check out my Amazon guide, more or less a complete list of items that are reasonably easy to get your hands on with the help of Amazon and eBay.


General's costume: The flags on the back represent units under the General's command. Forget the Disney version - in Chinese opera, Mulan wears this kind if outfit!

Green Dragon Robe: Hand-applied couched gold threads cover this one. Unbelievably precious! The scales on the dragons' bodies are the thing that sold it for me. Couched metal thread is one of the most opulent techniques of decorating textiles, but also the most fragile. Items like this don't often survive the centuries. This robe is brand new and I'm paranoid as hell of hurting it.

Also note the shoes - black velvet knee-high slip on boots with narrow wooden platforms painted white. These are the real deal.


White Dragon Robe: the design of smaller dragons in cicular shape is a Ching dynasty style. The dragon in the center circle is the super-deluxe model (but of course!) with 5 claws instead of 4, and head facing forwards instead of sideways. Some lesser ranks of officials were forbidden by law from wearing a 5-clawed dragon (supposed to wear 4 claws only) - and some dragon robes from that period have a fifth toe but no claw!

Orange Kylin Robe: Can't tell you much about this one except that the orange silk is sort of crispy-feeling. When I bought this one I called it a "water dragon," not knowing what this creature is. My seller said it's called a kylin, and it's yet another mythical combo-beast like a griffin or dragon. Most deluxe feature: embroidered pine tree hidden on the inside lining.

Black Dragon Robe: unknown age, actual costume used onstage. Has makeup around the collar and a few amateur repairs at stress points. Not as beautiful as the others, and made of all synthetic material and machine embroidery, but still definitely of interest. The three robes above are missing some accessories/components, one of which is an undershirt with very long white sleeves. This black robe has the white sleeve ends attached. The robes above when worn onstage would look similar (long white sheets hanging off the arms)

Hats: covered with heavy glass "christmas balls" mounted on springs. The whole mess quivers when you move your head.

White General costume (now owned by my aunt)