COSTUMES – Mang, the Ceremonial Robe

The ‘Mang’ is the most formal of costumes, usually worn by characters of high and noble rank in scenes such as formal banquets or court ceremonies. The name ‘Mang’ is derived from the four-clawed ‘dragon’ that is usually depicted on robes of officials, as opposed to the five-clawed dragon that is reserved for imperial robes. There are many different styles of depicting dragons on the ‘mang’, each with its own unique symbolism.

Civil officers have dragons on their ‘mang’ depicted in close-knit groups, symbolising virtuous simplicity:

On the other hand, dragons on the ‘mangs’ of military officers are splashed across the front in various active stances, indicating martial strength and courage. The style of this robe is called ‘xizhudalong’ (great dragon chasing the fireball), a depiction that brings the energy of young generals to mind.

As they are most formal costumes in Peking Opera, ‘Mangs’ are only available in the five primary colours (yellow, red, black, white and green):

Yellow is reserved for characters playing the roles of Emperors or members of the Imperial Family.
Black symbolises a character of justice or passion.
White symbolises youthful energy and suaveness. Young male protagonists or youthful heroes usually wear the colour.
Green symbolises martial valiance and is reserved for generals or famous heroes.
Red symbolises noble majesty and is usually worn by characters of extreme high rank (e.g. prime ministers or noble princes).
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