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Inheritor of century-old tradition brings touch of tech to makeup

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-03 09:06

Jiao Xuefeng paints a mask in his studio at Beima village in Gu'an county, Hebei province.  CHINA DAILY

A young man in Langfang, Hebei province, has found a unique way to blend traditional culture with modern elements by infusing technology into the production of painted masks based on the facial makeup designs used in Peking Opera.

Jiao Xuefeng, a seventh-generation inheritor of his family's facial makeup techniques in Langfang's Gu'an county, said combining them was "both challenging and promising". Recognized as provincial intangible cultural heritage, Jiao-style facial makeup boasts a history of nearly 200 years.

Refined over the years, it has developed a distinctive style by incorporating advanced technology that makes it more vibrant and allows for unique creations.

Born in 1990, Jiao has had a strong interest in facial makeup since he was a child and began learning to draw and create the makeup from his father at the age of six.

In the 2000s, Jiao started to use computers and became an enthusiastic programmer.

He later combined his computer skills with his passion for creating facial makeup, injecting new vitality into the inheritance and development of traditional culture.

One day last month, Jiao was working in his Beima village studio, in the town of Gongcun, carefully painting a mask. After dipping a brush in paints, he delicately applied them to a specially designed facial model, gradually layering colors from light to dark.

After some time, his work yielded the vivid red facial makeup of Guan Yu, a general from the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) known for his courage and faith.

"The batch of masks I was making was custom-made for use as corporate souvenirs and will soon be exported," Jiao said.

He said every mask he creates is first generated as a three-dimensional picture on a computer and then carved using a sculpting machine. "This approach helps produce facial makeup molds that are full and three-dimensional, with clear lines that can be directly painted using a brush," Jiao said.

He added that developing products through modern methods such as the use of machinery and computers allows for more precise molds than traditional ones.

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