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Performer's feather tiara fans public contempt

A renowned Beijing Opera performer has recently courted a storm of controversy for a feather tiara that is part of her show costume.

Award winning artist Liu Guijuan recently posted a picture of herself wearing the tiara on microblog Sina Weibo, and detailed how it was made.

"This tiara was made of tiny feathers from under the wings of 80 kingfishers," read Liu's Weibo post, "It cost 120,000 yuan [US$19,368] more than a decade ago."

Many netizens chastised Liu for "promoting cruelty" and "flaunting her wealth".

On Friday, she downplayed the backlash as the tiara was not her personal property; it belonged to her troupe.

"Besides, wearing feather tiaras is common, and legal, in Beijing Opera," Liu told Xinhua, "I don't see what the big deal is."

"Diancui Toumian" (tiara made of green feathers), is a necessary piece of costume for female characters in Beijing Opera.

Liu said her Weibo post was only intended to promote the craftsmanship behind artistic costumes.

"I think it's absurd that people call me 'cruel', I love animals," she said, adding that the backlash had left her feeling quite upset and she felt forced to delete the post.

Especially ornate, well made kingfisher feather tiaras, an industry insider told Xinhua, can fetch hundreds of thousands of yuan.

"There are at least 1,000 of these tiaras owned by troupes across the country," said the source.

In response to suggestions posted by people online to "find a substitute for the bird feathers", Liu argued that nothing else offers the high quality of kingfisher feathers, which survive multiple performances.

"I hope in the future there will be suitable replacement as techniques improve," she said.


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