This hand cast and hand painted sculpture features Zhang Fei, one of the heros from the Three Kingdoms period (220~280) in China. The sculpture is painted in mainly black and red to reflect Zhang Feis personality following the designs of Beijing Opera costume and makeup. Black represents bravery and red color represents uprightness and loyalty.
In the historical novel Romance of Three Kingdoms, Zhang Fei was originally a butcher, then eventually became the second member of the Five Tiger Generals in the period of "Three Kingdoms". According to the legend, he was sworn blood brother of Liu Bei and Guan Yu, in an oath made in a Peach Garden. In the novel, he has an obsession with wine that affected his judgment from time to time; however, that is apparently an invention of the author for the novel as Zhang Fei was not known as an alcoholic historically.
At the Battle of Changban, having let the exhausted Zhao Yun and the baby he was carrying through and facing an impending army of hundreds of thousands, Zhang rode out alone on the Changban Bridge to hold off the pursuing army of Cao Cao. He glared and pointed his spear, saying, "I am Zhang Fei of Yan, and anyone can come and challenge me to fight to the death," which was so powerful that it was said to have frightened and held off 10,000 troops.
Throughout the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhang is shown as exceedingly loyal and known for his strength and skill as a warrior, but also short tempered.
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.