bui saam (Cantonese Opera Belt)

About this object

History of use

This costume was used by an actress representing a wealthy woman. The features that indicate this are the ornate decorations. The skirt, which would have been pleated, is missing from the set, as is the vest-like top that would have been worn over simple sleeves. By the 1960s, men did not play female roles except occasionally “old woman” roles. During the years 1900-1930, Cantonese opera costumes were decorated with silver-plated brass discs and then with round mirrors, together with gold and silver thread. Sequins made of gelatin were first used on Cantonese opera costumes in the 1930s. Heavily-sequined costumes were popular in the 1950s-60s, with the sequins then being made of plastic. Sequins have continued to come and go in popularity since that time.

Cultural context

Cantonese Opera Performance

Physical description

A belt, decorated with floral designs of sequins in white and silver, that has a white lining. The belt is part of a costume with a blouse (2701/7 a) and a panel (2701/7 b).