Masks: Zhao Yong Qi

Dozens of colorful masks drying on shelvesAmidst the high rises of Beijing are several workshops of Zhao Yong Qi, a skilled Peking Opera mask maker. Zhoa comes from three generations of mask makers and has spent the last twenty years successfully earning his living by documenting opera figures. His tutor, who learned how to make these masks by watching the Peking Opera, gave him additional skills and passion for the craft. He now individually designs all of the mask patterns that are then painted by other artists in his workshops.

When the production of folk art became endangered in rural areas, Zhao left his home and moved to Beijing where he saw potential growth for his craft, as there is more opportunity to market folk arts in big cities. It is here that he continues his work, selling more than 80% of his masks in museums. Zhao is one of many artists who visit local universities and schools to talk about traditional culture in China in hope that young people will continue the practices. He now has ten eager students who help him in his workshops.