March and His Orchid Hand Patterns of Mei Lan-Fang
Mei Lanfang (1894—1961) is a notable Peking Opera artist in modern Chinese theater. He enjoys an over 50-year career as a highly accomplished singer, dancer and actor. He was also highly innovative in stage design, the musical score and the make-up. Not only did Mei become a celebrity in China, he’s also credited with bringing Peking Opera to countries around the world. In the 1920s and 30s he toured Japan, the US and the Soviet Union, taking theaters by storm as he introduced audiences to Peking Opera at a time of tense international relations between the countries.
Benjamin March (1899—1934) was an art writer, curator and lecturer from the US. He was deeply impressed by Mei Lanfang’s art and especially admires the beauty of his orchid hand patterns in Peking Opera performance. In 1931, March paid a visit to the Mei’s family in China and photographed Mei’s hand patterns, his garden and friends. In 1934, March published the book <Orchid Hand Patterns of Mei Lan-fang>. The book included March’s essay on Mei Lanfang’s art and 10 pieces of wood-engraving illustrations of orchid hand patterns from his photographs created by Paul McPharlin.
<Benjamin March’s Orchid Hand Patterns of Mei Lan-fang> is a book that supplements March’s <Orchid Hand Patterns of Mei Lan-fang> and further explores his studies. A variety of March’s writings, including his essays, diaries and appraisals were selected and translated into Chinese, along with photos, drafts, press clippings and other image sources presented throughout the book. To emphasize March’s unique perspectives of studies, as well as to fully introduce Mei’s orchid hand patterns, the appendix of the book shows other 44 pieces of Mei’s orchid hand patterns in line-drawing illustrations. These illustrations were created by me in a style with respect to March and Paul McPharlin’s original illustrations. They were illustrated based on the photos in <A Glance to Mei Lanfang’s Art>, a communication product published in 1935 before Mei's tour to Soviet Union, where a total of 53 hand patterns were introduced.