The Costume of China
A CHINESE COMEDIAN.
THEATRICAL exhibitions form one of the chief amusements of the Chinese:
for though no public theatre is licensed by the government, yet every
Mandarin of rank has a stage erected in his house, for the performance
of dramas, and his visitors are generally entertained by actors hired
for the purpose.
On occasions of public rejoicing, as the commencement oi a new year, the
birth-day of the Emperor, and other festivals, plays are openly
performed in the streets, throughout the day, and the strolling players
rewarded by the voluntary contributions of the spectators.
While the Embassador and his suite were at Canton, theatrical
representations were regularly exhibited at dinner time, for their
diversion. This character, which the Interpreter explained to be an
enraged military officer, was, sketched from an actor performing his
part before the embassy, December 19, 1793.
These entertainments arc accompanied by music: during the performance of
which, sudden bursts, from the harshest wind instruments, and the
sonorous gong, frequently stun the ears of the audience.
Females are not allowed to perform: their characters are therefore
sustained by eunuchs; who, having their feet closely bandaged, are not
easily distinguished from women.
The dresses worn by players, are those of ancient times.