Dixi Drama (a kind of exclusive ritual dance of Tunbao people), also called Tiaoshen in common parlance, is an ancient drama containing functions of drama, sacrificing and entertainment, which dates back to Ming Dynasty 600 years ago. Dixi Drama, created and performed by the local farmers, is handed down from generations to generations. It is staged up by Anshun local farmers during the period of Chinese New Year (from the first day of the first month to the fifteen day of the first month of Chinese lunar calendar).Performers all wrap a piece of dark green cloth on the face and wear a mask on forehead. Their costumes are the war suit. It adopts artistic methods of singing, reading, doing and fighting to present the stories and legends of loyal people in Chinese history, which can be read in books such as “the Romance of Entitling Gods” “the Strife between Chu and Han” “the Romance of the Three States” “Xuegang Rebel the Tang Dynasty”. It is called the living fossil of drama history and produced a sensation when performed in France, Spain, Japan and etc.
Wearing mask on the forehead is the characteristic of Dixi Drama. Concerning the development of mask, it already has a history of thousands of years and it is one of the elements of Chinese culture which can not be ignored. It strengthened the deterrent force of common people, which had significant function in social life during ancient China when the power of nature was unknowable. Mask was the content for ancient people to express their hope for living and their fear for death at that time.
Dixi mask is also called “Lianzi (face)” by local people. It is usually made of White Poplar. The masks used in one Dixi drama ranges from tens of to hundreds of. As the topic of the drama is always about wars, the masks generally can be divided into the masks for the positive characters and the masks for the negative character. Dixi drama is a part of Han ethnic culture, therefore the positive characters are usually Han ethnic people and the negative characters are minority people. And the masks vary from the different of age, gender and position. Among them, the military officers’ masks are the most complicated.
Besides, the colors of the masks usually indicate the characteristics of the characters. Generally speaking, red represents brave, black is the symbol of firm and upright, blue means courageous and resolute, green indicates self-possessed and white represents that the character is of soldierly bearing.
Concerning the producing technique of Dixi mask, it is mainly the combine of bass-relief and hollow-carving, which is delicate without overloading details. The color is bright and some of them are enchased with glass.
As a kind of colored drawing woodcarving work, the inspiration for Diximasks is mostly derived from the stories in “Shuo Tang”, “Water Margin” and etc. Differing from the ordinary woodcarving, it is free from any limit and completely created by folk handicraftsmen’s imagination and casual carving, which forms the distinct style of the Anshun Dixi masks, full of boorishness and value of appreciating.