Peach Flower Fan
A scene from Kunqu Opera A Peach Flower Fan

The Peony Pavilion (牡丹亭), Hall Of Longevity (长生殿), Thousands Of Martyrs (千忠戮) and A Peach Flower Fan (桃花扇) are the four most celebrated classic Chinese opera dramas since Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) until this day.

Author Kong Shangren

The author’s old dwelling in Shangqiu city

Kong Shangren (1648 – 1718), the author of A Peach Flower Fan, was a 64th-generation descendant of Confucius and an eyewitness to the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the rise of an alien regime that originally came from Cyberia with a culture still dwelling in a stone-age era at the time.

It was in this house he crafted A Peach Flower Fan.

Kunqu Opera “A Peach Flower Fan”

An Aria in Kunqu Opera A Peach Flower Fan – Farewell My Love
Author: Kong Shangren (孔尚任)

Singers: Shi Xiaming (施夏明), Shan Wen (单雯)

The play recounts the last days of the Ming Dynasty through a true love story between a talented young scholar surnamed Hou and a beautiful maiden prostitute surnamed Li.

After the couple lost contact with each other in the war, Li was coerced to marry a powerful official. She refused to betray her lover and at the wedding ceremony attempted to kill herself by knocking her head against a pillar.

Her blood smeared a fan that was given to her by Hou. An artist who witnessed the incident picked up the fan and painted peach blossoms based on the blood sports. He then sent the fan to Hou to let him know Li’s unyielding love for him.

Li survived the ordeal and was able to be left alone.

Hou, like most classic Confucius scholars, considered defending his nation and culture as his personal obligation thus joined the military resistance campaign led by Shi Kefa against a collaborated force of Manchu horsemen and treacherous Chinese warlords.

But the campaign was defeated.

When the couple eventually met again, China was under the full occupation of Manchus. Millions of Chinese were killed by Manchu armies in resistance wars and for rejecting Manchu’s pigtail hairstyle and ridiculous dress code, yet still, many scholars began to work with the alien regime. Hou was one of them.

Li’s heart was broken. She folded the peach flower fan that was returned to her by Hou, said goodbye to her lover and became a Daoist nun.

Hou also became a monk, allegedly.

Suzhou Pingtan “A Peach Flower Fan”

Suzhou dialect is the most tender and musical among all Chinese tongues, which is often viewed as the best for female expression. But in fact, it can also be shaped in a rather masculine fashion.

Suzhou Pingtan artist Mao Xinlin (毛新琳) sings a piece from A Peach Flower Fan, which is about a Ming Dynasty general who died a heroic death when defending the nation against the alien invasion.

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