Richmond World Festival 2016

Richmond celebrated the end of the summer with a big bag. The Richmond World Festival attracted more than 30,000 people.


The Richmond World Festival celebrates the city’s cultural diversity through food, sport, art and music.


There were over 40 food trucks showing the region’s flavour in the FEASTival of Flavours.


Here were just a few of them.


Ben and I had a heavy breakfast, so we did not sample any of the food.


However, Nanzaro did get a wrap from a Greek food truck.


While Arkensen got a Poke bowl from Hiko Sushi food truck.


I came here for the Vancouver Cantonese Opera performance. I simply love this art form. The costumes are colorful, intricate and unique. The costumes tell the characteristic of the character. It depicts the nature of the play.

There are two types of play. The “MUN” play is usually intellectual and culturally oriented. Movements are soft and elegant. Actors have water sleeves attached to the edge of their sleeves. The movement of the sleeves is used to symbolize their emotions. Generally, long robes are worn for “MUN” play.


The above photo showcased the water sleeves.


The other type of play is the “MO” play. It is action oriented with costumes which allow for demonstration of martial arts. Costumes tend to be more elaborate and heavy, with more accessories like pennants at the back of the costumes and a sword worn at the side of the waist.

The Vancouver Cantonese Opera is kind enough to provide me with the costumes narration as being showcased in the Cultural Costume Show performed at the Bamboo Theater as part of the Multicultural Heritage.

The costume parade started off with costumes from the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).


Ladies in Waiting (the ladies on the left and right, carrying a lantern)

  • The costume is made up of a shirt and a long, flowing skirt, tied at the waist. It tends to be less elaborate than the men. It tends to be plain with fewer patterns. In general, higher status commands more embroidery.
  • Hair is usually arranged in buns.



  • The costume consists of a simple “MONG”, which is a long robe. It is tied at the waist with a sash. It tends to be a little shorter showing a slight gap at the bottom. It has wide sleeves or in layers.


Court Official

  • The court official wears a robe with the same cutting as “MONG” with round collars called “YOON NANG”. Lower ranking officials is allowed to have a round or square pattern on the front and back of the robe.
  • The hat usually has 2 flaps on either side.



  • This is typical of a “MO” play where the actor wears “DAI KOW” which symbolizes the armor. It is one of the heaviest and grandest costumes in Cantonese Opera. It has a “FU PAI” which is a large armor plate covering the torso. It is worn with 4 pennants on the back which symbolize his seal.
  • Helmet is elaborate with pompoms and jewels.


The King and the Queen

  • Both characters wear “MONG”. “MONG” is a formal costume worn by kings, queens, royalty and high officials. It is worn with “GOK DAI” which is a ring or hoop around the waist which symbolize rank.
  • The king’s “MONG” will have “royal” embroidery such as dragons which symbolize the king as the son of heaven. The fabric is often yellow with gold threads. His crown is set with jewels.
  • The queen’s “MONG” has similar designs (except with phoenix embroidery)  and is made up of a shirt, either button down the front or the back, and a long slowing skirt.
  • The queen’s hair is dressed in pony tail with a high crown or tiara set with jewels.

The following are a set of costumes from the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). This period of costume is characterized by elaborate rules with minute detailing. Typically, it is a fusion of Manchu and Han cultural elements. These costumes are elegant, luxurious and exquisitely woven and embroidered. They are uniquely decorated and displayed a variety of crafting techniques.


Ladies in Waiting

  • She wears a “cheongsam” with a waist length vest. The “cheogsam” is decorated at the edging or border.
  • Hair is dressed in “flag head” with ornaments called “great wing”.
  • Shoes are called flower pot shoes. Manchu ladies were forbidden to bind their feet. These shoes help to mimic a swaying way of walking.


Court Official

  • This formal dress is called “CHAOFU” and were worn at the most solemn state ceremonies. It is generally worn with a ceremonial collar. The style is appropriated from the Ming Court dress, with the addition of the distinctive Manchu horse-hoof cuffs and plain cloth insertion at the sleeves and collar. A large square embroidery in front of the robe symbolizes rank.
  • Hat is worn and distinguished by summer or winter style.


The Emperor and Empress

  • The emperor wears a court dress or robes with a cloth crown on state occasions. Summer and winter version lies in the material used at edging or border of the robe. In summer, satin is used for trimming while fur is used in winter; a Manchu culture.
  • Colour is predominantly yellow and the pattern is mainly dragon and the twelve chapters pattern (depicts elements in the universe) on the front, back and arms of the robe.
  • The emperor and his consorts are allowed to wear dragon robes in their favorite colour and decorative motifs to suit different occasions.
  • In addition, the emperor wears a jacket in the colour yellow. This is usually worn when the emperor is out and about.
  • The empress wears a special dress called “BIN”. This is a long coat, with round neck, buttons down front with left or right open air, and straight sleeves. Coat is worn with skirt.
  • The empress costume usually has a wide border on the collar, sleeves and skirt, which is decorated with lace and embroidery. Pattern used varies from phoenix, dragon and flower such as peony, mountains, waves, sun and moon inserts.
  • The queen wears a hat dressed with jewels.


It was a knowledgeable costume parade.


Besides the costumes parade, we also enjoyed a couple of Beijing Operas and Cantonese Operas. I prefer Cantonese Opera over Beijing Opera because I understand the language.

The above was a scene of the “Kneeling by the Pond” Cantonese Opera. Here is the narration of the performance, credit to Vancouver Cantonese Opera.

“Kneeling by the Pond” is an episode in “The Lioness’ Roar”, a well-known 30-scene comedy of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It tells the story of a jealous, abusive wife, Liu Shi. Her subdued husband, Chen Ji-chang, would never dare to take a concubine or even enjoy happy moments with other women. Chen seeks help everywhere without much success, just to find a husband who is as henpecked as he is.

Su Dong-po wants to show that Liu Shi has no right to mistreat her husband, so he devises a scheme to prove his point. Su invites his friend, Chen Ji-chang, to a spring outing with a beautiful cousin attending. The revel is discovered by Chen’s wife, Liu Shi, a very beautiful but extremely jealous and ill-tempered woman.

In this episode, the audience can enjoy the comic scene of how Liu Shi punishes her henpecked husband. After Chen returns from his outing, she scolds Chen and makes him confess his disloyalty. In addition to beating and cursing her husband, she orders him to kneel in the courtyard by the side of the pond.

While Chen is complaining about his misfortune, Su Dong-po drops by to pay him a visit. When Su Dong-po sees his friend being punished for having had a good time with him, he feels obliged to rescue Chen from the abusive grip of Liu Shi. Su tells Chen that he can easily divorce Liu Shi according to village common law. Chen is very happy that he finally can stand up to his wife’s unreasonable treatment and can demand Liu Shi to let him take a concubine. If she disagrees, he will divorce her. She refuses, so Chen is forced to record the divorce in black and white. Then Liu Shi informs him that she will take him to court because she hasn’t done anything wrong to deserve a divorce. Apparently, Su forgets part of the village common law in divorcing a wife. Chen has made a costly mistake and blames his friend for his trouble.

Updated: 10th May 2017: I found the video, credit to Rosa Cheng.



This was another performance titled The Intoxicating Tune. Again, the narration below is credited to Vancouver Cantonese Opera.

The story takes place in a country called Eastern Eng, about Chow Yu.  At the young age of 24, he is already the Commander-in-Chief of 81 provinces.  Not only that he is extremely smart, he is well versed in all the battle strategies, he is also very a talented artist, composer and musician.

Having been injured in his last battle, he returns home to recuperate.  He is very well cared for by his beautiful wife Siu Kiu.  And gradually he starts to recover.

One day, Siu Kiu wants Chow Yu to relax.   She offers to dance for him.  She invites him to play the Guzheng (Chinese harp) to accompany her.  The husband and wife really have a wonderful time.  However, while Siu Kiu is dancing and really enjoying herself, Chow Yu is already secretly plotting his next battle strategy.

I totally enjoyed the performances, the Cantonese ones. Special thanks to Rosa Cheng and Heidi Mok of Vancouver Cantonese Opera.

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