About Cantonese Opera: Costumes
This page co-authored by Stacey Fong and Erick Lee


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   Cantonese Opera costumes are colorful, intricate, and unique.  Each type of character has a variety of costumes to select from, so costuming is very flexible and up to the performer.  A performer chooses his/her costume depending on the choreography of the show or personal preference.

 

Men's Costumes

    Mun Plays
        Most of the costumes in Mun plays have water sleeves.  Costumes tend to be long, almost like robes.  They can either be tied at the waist or left straight down.  There are many different types of cuttings; some are double breasted and tied on the side, while others are single breasted and button-down.  Some have round collars and are buttoned around the shoulder.  The types of costumes for men include, but are not limited to:

            Hoy Ching Normally it is worn by scholars, and can also serve as leisure wear.  Hoy Ching can be tied at the waist with tassels.  Commoners of the town or city can wear hoy ching, but it will have less embroidery and less vibrant colors, symbolizing their poverty.  The hats usually worn with hoy ching are  Fok Yer Gun, Yut Jee Gun, and Yern Gun.
            Mun Goon Po - This is worn by officials who are not in court.  
                Mun Goon Mo - the hat worn with Mun Goon Po.  Has the same embroidery as the Mun Goon Po, with two pointed "wings" on the sides.
            Pay Fung - Usually worn by old scholars or old officials at home.
                Saa Mo - the hat worn with Pay Fung, it is black velvet and has two rectangular wings.
                Pay Fung can also be worn with a box like hat, with the same embroidery as the pay fung. This style is usually worn by older men.
            Mong - Worn by officials in court.  The gok dai is a ring or hoop around the waist, which is a symbol of rank.  Mong can also be worn by a king, but will have "royal" embroidery, such as dragons, and the fabric is often yellow with golden threads.   A Mong can also be worn by a general, who is not in battle.  In this case, one sleeve will be a water sleeve, and the other will be cuffed (called Mun Mo Sleeves).  The cuffed sleeve is usually the right.
            Yoon Nang - The same cutting as a Mong, but it is worn by lower ranked officials.  It has less embroidery, usually just a round or square  pattern on the chest.
            Dai Hon Jong - This is a very general cut and design, worn during the Han dynasty.  It has big, wide sleeves, and a pleated skirt.  This style, or a variation of it, was worn by almost everyone in that dynasty.
           
        


Hoy Ching
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Mong
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Yoon Lang
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Go Hur - the shoes usually worn by male characters
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Pay Fung
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Actor Pang Chi Kern wearing a hoi ching with fok yoo gun.
From Chinese Opera.  See reference page for book details.

Actor Leung Yiu Ngon wearing Hoi Ching with Jaat Gun hat.  This is a Mun-Mo outfit.
From Chinese Opera.  See reference page for book details.

 

Mo Plays
   
     Costumes in Mo plays are usually more elaborate than Mun.  There are also more costume accessories.          
            Dai Kow - One of the biggest, heaviest, and grandest costumes in Chinese Opera, the dai kow symbolizes armor that a general wears.  A Fu Pai is the large plate of armor covering the torso.  This extravagant costume includes of four pennants worn on the general's back.  The pennant serves as general's seal or official signature.  
            Siu Kow - This is also a costume worn by a general, but toned down from the dai kow.  It consists of a lot of different pieces and layers, and is tied at the waist.  
            Jo Mah - Can be worn by general or any character in Mo.  There are many different accessories which can be worn with a Jo Mah, for example, a baan dai, or kwun sok.
                Baan Dai - A waistband that hangs down to the ankles.  The performer incorporates the baan dai into their movements.
                Kwun Sok - A thin rope with very long tassels, it is tied across the chest in different ways to form different patterns on the performer's torso.
            Ging Jong - Basically a shirt and pants, can be worn with either baan dai or kwun sok (usually baan dai).  Usually worn by lower ranking generals, or commoners in Mo scenes.
            Hats/Helmets worn with Mo costumes - Many have colorful pom poms and/or rhinestones.  These helmets also can have the pheasant feathers attached to them.  Helmets include, but are not limited to, Dai Ngak Ji (usually with dai kow), Ji Gum Goon (usually with dai kow), and many others.
                


Jo Mah with Jee Gum Goon (helmet), Pheasant Feathers, and Go Hur.
From  Chinese Opera Characters.  See reference page for book details.

Siu Kow
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.


Dai Kow accessories
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Dai Kow Pennants
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Actor Pang Chi Kern wearing a dai ngak jee with dai kow.
From Chinese Opera.  See reference page for book details.

A male soldier of the immortal realm.
From Chinese Opera.  See reference page for book details.

Male general wearing dai kow with ma chiu kwai.
From  Chinese Opera Characters.  See reference page for book details.

Jeen Hur - These are flat soled shoes worn by some mo characters.
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Ging Jong
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.
 



                



           
Women's Costumes

    Mun Plays
        Almost all of the ladies' costumes have water sleeves in Mun plays.  Costumes are usually made up of a shirt, either buttoned down the front or back, and a long, flowing skirt.  The ladies' costumes tend to be less diverse and interchangeable than men's costumes because a lady's costume (and hair) will tell a lot about her status.  Maids and/or poor girls usually wear a shirt and pants set.  The more embroidery there is on an outfit, the richer or high in social status that female will be.
        
            Siu Gu Jong - a shirt and blouse set that is tied at the waist.  Generally worn by unmarried girls, and simpler versions can be worn by maids.
            Pay Fung
- usually worn by married women, this is a blouse and skirt outfit that is not tied at the waist.
            Mong - worn by royalty at a formal gathering, such as a party.


           


Siu Gu Jong
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Woman in Pay Fung with Dai Tow hair style.
From  Chinese Opera Characters.  See reference page for book details.


Girls' shoes
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.


The style worn by females in the Ching dynasty
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

 Formal costume typically worn by royalty.  The belt is called a gok dai.
From  Chinese Opera Characters.  See reference page for book details.

Mong
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.


           
Mo Plays
                Like men's costumes, women's mo costumes are far more elaborate than in mun plays.  There are also numerous accessories which can be worn with the costumes.

                 Dai Kow - One of the biggest, heaviest, and grandest costumes in Chinese Opera, the dai kow symbolizes armor that a general wears.  A Fu Pai is the large plate of armor covering the torso.  This extravagant costume includes of four pennants worn on the general's back.  The pennant serves as general's seal or official signature.  
                 Siu Kow - This is also a costume worn by a general, but toned down from the dai kow.  It consists of a lot of different pieces and layers, and is tied at the waist.  Girls' Siu Kows can have two different types of skirts.
                    Bay Kwun - Three knee length flaps that hang from the girl's waist.
                    Jok Yeep Kwun - This skirt consists of many thin flaps that look almost like long leaves (in Chinese, yeep means leaf), hanging down to the floor.  This style is usually worn by females who are pushing a carriage.
            Hats/Helmets worn with Mo costumes - Many have colorful pom poms and/or rhinestones.  These helmets can also have the pheasant feathers attached to them.  


Dai Kow with the Pennants and Fu Pai.  Skirt style utilizes Jok Yeep Kwun.
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Jeen Hur - Worn by female warriors.
From Chang, Ta-hsia.  See reference page for book details.

Female general wearing Dai Kow with pheasant feathers and chestbuckle.
From  Chinese Opera Characters.  See reference page for book details.
 

 


 

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