Cantonese Opera Blouse Item Number: 2701/7 a from the MOA: University of British Columbia


A sleeveless blouse made of purple fabric, with high mandarin collar and decorated with floral designs of sequins in white and silver, closes down the back with metal snap fasteners. Sleeves and collar are edged with solid lines of sequins. Blouse is part of a costume with a panel (2701/7 b) and a belt (2701/7 c).

History Of Use

This costume was used by an actress representing a wealthy woman. The features that indicate this are the ornate decorations. The skirt, which would have been pleated, is missing from the set, as is the vest-like top that would have been worn over simple sleeves. By the 1960s, men did not play female roles except occasionally “old woman” roles. During the years 1900-1930, Cantonese opera costumes were decorated with silver-plated brass discs and then with round mirrors, together with gold and silver thread. Sequins made of gelatin were first used on Cantonese opera costumes in the 1930s. Heavily-sequined costumes were popular in the 1950s-60s, with the sequins then being made of plastic. Sequins have continued to come and go in popularity since that time.

Cultural Context

Cantonese Opera Performance