Exhibition: From the Imperial Theater – Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Met Museum - From the Imperial Theater

Exhibition dates: open until 9 October 2016

Drawn entirely from The Met’s collection, this exhibition in New York examines these luxury textiles from artistic and technical points of view. It is organized in two rotations. The first focuses on costumes used in dramas based on historical events, and the second will feature costumes from plays derived from legends and myths. The presentation showcases eight robes, each of which was created for a specific role – court lady, official, general, monk, nun and immortal. A set of album leaves faithfully depicting theatrical characters wearing such robes is also displayed.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed a flowering of Chinese drama. Under the patronage of the Qing court (1644–1911), performances – including the ‘Peking Opera’ – filled the Forbidden City in Beijing. A form of traditional Chinese theatre, Peking Opera was developed fully by the mid-nineteenth century, and because of the form’s minimal stage settings and the importance of exaggerated gestures and movements, costume played an unusually significant role.

This exhibition includes superb examples with interior markings indicating their use in court productions.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

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