A Chinese comedian who portrayed an enraged military officer

Chinese, comedian, sketch, costume, William Alexander
A sketch of a Chinese comedian by William Alexander 1793.


by William Alexander.

Theatrical exhibitions form one of the chief amusements of the Chinese; for though no public theatre is licensed by the government, yet every Mandarin of rank has a stage erected in his house, for the performance of dramas, and his visitors are generally entertained by actors hired for the purpose.

On occasions of public rejoicing, as the commencement of a new year, the birth-day of the Emperor, and other festivals, plays are openly performed in the streets, throughout the day, and the strolling players rewarded by the voluntary contributions of the spectators.

While the Ambassador and his suite were at Canton, theatrical representations were regularly exhibited at dinner time, for their diversion. This character, which the Interpreter explained to be an enraged military officer, was, sketched from an actor performing his part before the embassy, December 19, 1793.

Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown's Most Stylish Seniors
by Andria Lo and Valerie Luu.

Chinatown Pretty features beautiful portraits and heartwarming stories of trend-setting seniors across six Chinatowns.

These entertainments are accompanied by music: during the peformance of which, sudden bursts, from the harshest wind instruments, and the sonorous gong, frequently stun the ears of the audience.

Females are not allowed to perform: their characters are therefore sustained by eunuchs; who, having their feet closely bandaged, are not easily distinguished from women.

The dresses worn by players, are those of ancient times.

Source: The costume of China, illustrated in forty-eight coloured engravings by William Alexander (1767-1816). London, William Miller, Albemarle Street, 1805. Plates also published in Bazin de Malpière’s La Chine; moeurs, usages, costumes. 2 v. Paris, 1824-27.


Note:  The Wash-House by William Orpen.
0 0 votes
Article Rating

Leave a Reply

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty: 40 Projects for Period-Accurate Hairstyles, Makeup and Accessories by Lauren Stowell & Abby Cox.

Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart & Susan North. From cut and construction to fabric and trimmings.


Couture: then and now Clothes define people. A person's clothing, whether it's a sari, kimono, or business suit, is an essential key to his or her culture, class, personality, or even religion. The Kyoto Costume Institute recognizes the importance of understanding clothing sociologically, historically, and artistically.