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Costumes in Cantonese Opera

There were no fixed and fast rules regarding the period costumes in the early days of Cantonese opera. The designs roughly followed the way of dress of the Ming dynasty. By the early 20th century, when the productions were on contemporary issues, the cast would even be dressed in contemporary Western-style or Chinese-style clothes. Later, with increasing crossover between the genres of Cantonese opera and Peking opera, the costume design of the latter dominated.

Today, the costume design of Cantonese opera is subject to many factors, such as gender, role, plot, personality, setting and occasion. The costumes fall into categories, such as ceremonial robes for men and women, armour, top dress, cloaks, official robes, capes, etc. There are matching footwear and headgear as well. Facial make-up or “masks” would complete the ensemble.


  • San Ma Sze Tsang and Chan Kam Tong in full costume

  • Photo of Fung Wong Nui in action on stage

  • Photo of Lang Chi Pak miming “Riding the Cart”

  • Woman’s embroidered ceremonial robe