China’s rich operatic heritage started with Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang Dynasty (712-755 A.D.). Many of the features that characterize modern Chinese Opera developed in northern China, particularly Shanxi and Gansu Provinces. These included the use of certain set characters: Sheng – the man, Dan – the woman, Hua – painted face, and Chou – the clown.
Hua Dan (花旦) refers to lively, vivacious young female characters in Chinese Opera. The role of Hua Dan usually represents a cheerful, feisty and flirtatious young woman from lowly social status.
Costume for this role is vivid in design and colour. It consists of a jacket and trousers and a red handkerchief is carried to flutter in the actress’s hand. The character of Hua Dan focuses more on movements, speech and facial expressions. The makeup for this role is often bold and rich in colours.