Chinese Drama - Classical Literature

Tsa-Chu Drama

Zaju (Tsa-Chu Drama) in the yuan dynasty belongs to Yuan Qu and as its main branch it was welcomed by both the court and the people. It underwent two stages in the early Yuan and the mid and late Yuan.

In the early stage, dramatists suffered from the misfortunes of the time and created works to embody the reality of social darkness. Guan Hanqing, the most highly reputed dramatist, wrote The Injustice to Dou'e as his masterpiece. In this work, Dou'e is a widower living with his mother-in-law. When the scoundrel compelled her to marry him, she resisted him. Wrongly accused, she was sentenced to death. Prior to her execution, she pronounced three curses. The first was of blood spraying onto a white flag, the second was for snow in summer and the third for a severe drought lasting for three years. Each of her curses was realized. There were other contemporary playwrights like Bai Renfu who wrote Rain on the Wu Tong Tree to praise the love between Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang Guifei. Autumn in the Han Palace by Ma Zhiyuan is another telling the story of Wang Zhaojun.

At the second stage, dramatists turned their concentration to feelings of love and the fairy and ghost stories as the conditions under the reigning government were rather disappointing. Romance of the Western Chamber by Wang Shifu is typical. The lyrical and fluent verses cause readers to sympathize with the lovers and to dislike their obstructer.

Drama in the Ming and qing dynasty reached another peak after the Zaju (Tsa-chu Drama) of the yuan dynasty. Dramatic theory and works as well as performance skills were all greatly admired. The famous Beijing Opera was created during this time. The dramatic works include 'Ten Tragedies' and 'Ten Comedies'. The Peony Pavilion is the typical one among these.

Other Forms

In ancient China, as well as the above four forms of literature, there were also others such as historical records, critical works, idioms, allegories, ballads and many legends that had been handed down from generation to generation.

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