Five Things to know About… Sichuan Opera

Sichuan Opera (川剧 Chuānjù) is a style of Chinese opera that is mainly popular in areas of Sichuan, Chongqing, Yunnan and Guizhou, and is full of interesting tricks to enthrall and impress audiences! Read on to find out more about it.

It’s about 300 years old

Sichuan opera developed towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) out of five other older styles of opera, some of which date back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD). Over time, elements of the province’s  languages, customs, and folk songs were incorporated to give it a unique Sichuan flavour.

It’s very exciting to watch

Sichuan Opera is famous for its many tricks and stunts, which include face-changing (swapping one mask for another in the blink of an eye), blowing fire, and performing acrobatic movements or tasks whilst the performer balances a bowl of fire on his head.

Face-changing is the most famous aspect of Sichuan Opera

Face-changing is used to reveal the changes in the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the play. The masks are made of very thin silk, so they are easy to remove quickly when changing faces. (We won’t spoil the secret of how it is done by explaining it here!)

The music is as important as the singing

Gongs and drums are an important part of Sichuan Opera music. In fact there are more than 20 kinds of musical instruments used in this style, with the most common including different sized gongs and drums to give different effects, cymbals, string instruments and suonas (a sunoa is a kind of horn). 

Sichuan Opera can be experienced in many different locations

Not only is it performed in theaters, but also found in places frequented by locals such as restaurants and teahouses.

Have you ever seen Sichuan Opera? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below. We would love hearing your thoughts and insights on traditional Chinese culture! 

Photo Credits
– xiquinhosilva on Flickr,

Contact Us

Stay up-to-date with the latest offers, information and events from Cultural Keys. Follow our Official WeChat Account by scanning the QR code (click for larger image), or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to be the first to know! 

For more information about anything on this page, or for more information about Cultural Keys, please contact us or use the form below to let us know your specific requirements.


    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    What is your enquiry about? (required)

    Your Message

    Recent Posts

    Mouseover to see left and right arrows

    Upcoming Events

    Mouse-over to see left and right arrows

    About Cultural Keys Chinese Culture Company

    Cultural Keys helps you access, understand and enjoy life in China through traditional Chinese culture. Click here to read more about Cultural Keys and what we can do for you, your school, company or group to help you get more out of your time in China!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *