Cantonese opera is a highly-valued traditional performing art in Hong Kong. With a live chamber orchestra and special theatrical costumes, Cantonese opera is an art form involving many skills such as singing, acting, narration and martial arts. Cantonese opera costumes come in a wide variety and correspond to the identity and social status of different roles. Hongkong Post issues a set of special stamps on "Cantonese Opera Costumes" featuring seven distinctive costumes on 21 August 2014.
The $1.70 stamp portrays a great Han costume. Embroidered with phoenix and floral designs, the costume is mostly worn by artists impersonating queens, princesses or imperial concubines.
The $2.20 stamp shows a gown with a sloping collar. The gown is a common Cantonese opera costume worn mostly by artists playing young aristocrats and noblemen.
The $2.90 stamp depicts a dress for young ladies. The dress is the daily wear for the role of unmarried maidens.
The $3.10 stamp delineates a military uniform for soldiers. The uniform, emblazoned with floral and cloud motifs, features a top with a round collar, loose sleeves with cuffs, an outer vest and a pair of harem trousers.
The $3.70 stamp displays a python ceremonial robe (mang). The robe, a form of regalia worn by actors playing emperors, generals and ministers, is decorated with a circular dragon, a single dragon and cloud motifs.
The $5 stamp features a gown with a vertical collar (pei). This gown with floral embroidery is the casual wear worn by patricians. A women's pei is a long knee-length robe with symmetrical fronts, wide sleeves covered with flowing sleeves, two side slits and a long dress.
The $10 stamp sheetlet features a grand armour. Dressed in the grand armour, actors impersonating the marshals of the Six Kingdoms in The Joint Investiture project a heroic, gallant and formidable demeanour.
Cantonese Opera Costumes Prestige Stamp Album, available in a limited edition of 1 800, will be released on 29 August 2014. The album contains a set of six mint stamps, a $10 stamp sheetlet and a mini-pane. Illustrated with text and pictures, the album introduces the history of Cantonese Opera, development of Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong and distinctive features of different Cantonese Opera costumes.