This framed wall hanging features Mu Guiying in traditional Beijing opera costume and makeup. Mu is one of the few female military officials in Chinese history. This item is hand cast and hand painted following the traidtional design. Mu wears the flags on her back which indicates she is a general. She holds a horse whip, representing she is riding a horse in Beijing opera.
Mu Guiying lived during the warring period of the Northern Song Dynasty (960~1127). Her father, originally an imperial official, was falsely accused by corrupt officials and forced to flee to a mountain. There he established his own Robin Hood-style band of outlaws that robbed the rich to give to the poor. Having grown up in her fathers mountain fortress, Mu Guiying mastered military skills and became a resolute and courageous character.
One year, the Liao regime to the north of the Northern Song invaded its frontier area. The Liao army effectively deployed the Heavenly Gate battle array, which Song troops were unable to penetrate despite several charges. The Song army needed a special kind of wood to make the weapons capable of defeating this battle stance. The Song general sent his son Yang Zongbao and two other officers to the Mu Mountain Fortress in search of this timber. Mu Guiying defeated and captured them. Captured and capturer, however, discovered that they had much in common: both their fathers had been honest officials of good reputation among the people but that had failed to win imperial favor. They also admired each others heroism and competence, not to mention good looks. They consequently fell in love and married in the fortress and Mu Guiying became a member of the Yang Family generals that safeguarded the country by protecting the frontier, earning fame as national heroes.
Mu Guiying helped defeat the invading Liao army, and also triumphed in several military expeditions against them. On one occasion she led her army in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, but had to stop in order to give birth. Upon getting wind of this, the enemy stopped its retreat and prepared for a counter-attack. On the third day after giving birth, Mu Guiying faced the Liao army in her military uniform. Upon seeing her, the Liao general thought the rumor he had heard was part of Mu Guiyings strategy to decoy him, and retreated.
Beijing opera of China dates back to the year 1790. With a history of over 200 years, Beijing Opera, which originated in Beijing, is the operatic form commanding the biggest following. Beijing Opera combines music, acrobatic dance, and spectacular costumes to tell stories from Chinese history and folklore.
The costumes in Beijing opera are graceful, magnificent, elegant and brilliant, most of which are made in handicraft embroidery. Besides the costumes, the actors also painted their faces with colorful paints. The facial makeup has various designs of lines and colored patches painted on the faces of certain operatic characters.