Arts of Asia in Reach
Peking Opera Mask Lesson Plan
3. Strategies & Procedures

Engage (Motivation)

Prospect Open Room students have been preparing to perform an original opera with the help of Cleveland Opera Un Tour staff members. Students will be attending the performance of Turandot, and have been learning about how to overcome stereotypes of Asian and Asian Americans. Puccini's Turandot tends to simplify and skew Asian culture to fit the storyline and create added drama. It is important for students to understand what elements are not truly part of Asian culture and which are.


AMAM visit
Students will first come to the Allen Memorial Art Museum and examine different types of masks, specifically the African mask, and the Japanese masks. Students will then view examples of Peking Opera masks, both in person and via the internet at the following site:
(teachers can print handouts from this site to use as examples)

Sketching activity:
Students will create their own masks using line and shape to represent different emotion and expressions.

Color Symbolism in Peking Opera Masks
Red: loyalty, courage
Purple: wisdom, bravery, steadfastness
Black: loyalty, integrity
Watery white: cruelty, treachery
Oily white: inflated, domineering
Blue: valor, resolution
Green: chivalry
Yellow: brutality
Gray: an old scoundrel
Gold and silver: supernatural (demons, Buddhas, spirits)
Dark red: loyal, time-tested warrior
Pink: humor

Paint mixing for students:
Provide students with only primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) plus black and white
Have students make the following colors**:
  • Green (yellow + blue)*
  • Purple (blue + red)*
  • Gray (white + black)*
  • Pink (white + red)*

* Have students mix in order of colors listed. Such as adding blue to yellow—this will waste less paint as only a little of each second color listed is needed versus if adding the first color to the second.
** Note that Orange is not listed as a color to mix—orange is NOT used as a mask color in Peking Opera.


Students will follow the following procedures:
  1. Transfer final sketch from sketchbook onto plastic mask using a dry erase marker. (using this type of marker allows the student to simply erase errors by rubbing off the mistake, however, students must be careful not to erase lines they wish to keep!)
  2. Once all lines are drawn satisfactorily, select colors (it is best to work from light to dark) and begin to paint them in the appropriate spaces according to the design. (Remember: no paint is needed for white since the mask itself is a nice bright white!)
  3. Using a medium sized paint brush, begin painting the largest, lightest colored areas.
  4. Continue to paint in each color from light to dark, large to small. Use a fine paint brush for small areas and details.
  5. Allow ample drying time before wearing or displaying masks!

Continue to: 4. Assessment & Closure