Stripey Chinese talisman
February 17, 2007 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this Chinese talisman thing.

Got it as a freebie with lunch today (thanks to it being New Year and all) - who or what is the face, and what's the red flame-like symbol on it? Why the stripes?
posted by wanderingmind to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
The face looks like a standard type of mask from Beijing Opera. Beyond that, I can't help much, I'm afraid. My knowledge of culture is appalling - although I can't help but think that the stripes have little significance other than tying up the tassel. The red symbol someone else should be able to identify, sorry. ><
posted by Phire at 10:06 PM on February 17, 2007

It's probably a face from Beijing Opera, like Phire said.

Perhaps it's meant to be Chong Houhu? But the colors are wrong for that, I think. Perhaps a variation of some kind?
posted by gemmy at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2007

I'm a right ignoramus about opera, but I found this fairly lengthy 脸谱 (catalogue of faces). Going through, this looks closest to me. Says it's 宇文成都 (Yuwen Chengdu), though other versions of his face online differ a bit in colours used and exact patterns (version from the site gemmy linked above).
If it is him, he was apparently a general in the late Sui/early Tang, and appears in operas like 八大锤, 南阳关 and 晋阳宫. He was later apotheosed by the Thunder God to become a celestial. He was sent by his father Yuwen Huaji to assassinate the usurped Sui emperor Yangdi (down in history as the builder of the Grand Canal and a bit of a tyrant), who was living in exile in Yangzhou in Jiangsu province. Yuwen Chengdu was later enfeoffed as Prince of Wu'an.
The above could be a complete misidentification, but was fun to look up :D.
posted by Abiezer at 12:05 AM on February 18, 2007

That certainly looks right to me. I'd never have thought it'd have been an opera character, though. The flame symbol's still a mystery to me, though - any experts on Chinese opera in the house?
posted by wanderingmind at 12:11 AM on February 18, 2007

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