|Name||Peach Blossom Fan|
|Description||There are four important Chinese dramatic works written in rhyme from the 13th to the 19th century, namely, Romance of Western Bower, Dream in Peony Pavilion, Love in Long Life Palace and Peach Blooms Painted with Blood. All these four works tell us love stories which reflect the time from Tang to Qing dynasties. Peach Blooms Painted with Blood reflects that political power can separate living lovers through the tragic love story between Hou Fangyu, a patriotic intellectual of Ming dynasty, and Lee Xiangjun, one of the eight famed songstresses in Jinling.
The Peach Blossom Fan is a legendary play written by Kong Shangren of the early Qing Dynasty. It took the writer ten odd years to complete the script, and the draft was rewritten three times. Ever since it was finished in the 38th year of Emperor Kangxi's reign, the play has been highly praised by the general readers. The play has altogether 40 chapters, divided into three sections. The most frequently staged excerpts include "Fangcui" (presumably refers to spring outing), "Sending the Fan", and "Sinking into the River". The play reflects the history of the late Ming Dynasty when the Southern Ming went into collapse through the love story of the hero Hou Fangyu and the heroine Li Xiangjun, namely, "express the feeling of prospering and collapsing through parting and uniting, real story and real character, with evidence and proof."
The story goes that in the late Ming Dynasty, the members of the "Donglin Party" fled for their lives to Nanjing and reestablished "Fushe" (the Restoration Society), fighting against the deposed official Ruan Dacheng who was a remaining confederate of Wei Zhongxian, a eunuch that used to grab all state powers. Hou Fangyu, one of the backbones of the Restoration Society, encountered a geisha named Li Xiangjun. The two fell in love with each other. Hou Fangyu sent a fan inscribed with poem to Li Xiangjun and married her. Ruan Dacheng asked someone to send substantial dowry to cozy up to Hou Fangyu, but the dowry was handed back by Li Xiangjun after she learnt about the sender. Ruan Dacheng thus harbored resentment in his heart.
After Emperor Hongguang took the throne, Ruan Dacheng was reappointed in an important position. He took the opportunity to set Hou Fangyu up, forcing him to seek shelter from Shi Kefa and coercing Li Xiangjun to marry someone else. Li did not yield to his will and hit her head on the wall to commit suicide. Yet she failed, and the blood spattered on the fan. Yang Longyou, a friend of Hou Fangyu, made use of the blood drops and drew a branch of peach blossoms with them. When the Ming Dynasty collapsed, Li Xiangjun lived in the mountain and became a nun. And when Yangzhou fell, Hou Fangyu fled to Nanjing to look for Li Xiangjun. He finally converted to Taoism, following a way similar to Li Xiangjun.
The Peach Blossom Fan is said to be "a painting of social scenes in late dynasty", in which the contents are complicated, the roles various, and the scenes motley. When the playscript was finished, the aristocrats and high officials copied it with great passion. It caused a great sensation in Beijing when the play was first staged by Jindou Troupe. Over the past three hundred years, the Peach Blossom Fan has been staged in several types of traditional operas.
|Publisher||University of California Press|