Xi Yang Xiao Gu (夕阳箫鼓)
Listed as one of ten best ancient Chinese music pieces, “Flutes and Drums at Sunset” is one of the representative works of ancient Chinese lute music. The author is not known. Beginning to be popular as early as in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the music’s name was first seen in Textual Research of Contemporary Music compiled by Yao Xie (1805-1864) in the Qing dynasty.—source
Ping Sha Luo Yan 平沙落雁 (Wild Geese Descending on a Sandbank)
Pingsha Luo Yan (also called Ping Sha, Pingsha Yan Luo and, in the first four published versions as well as later, Yan Luo Pingsha), is one of the most popular melodies in the current repertoire, actively played in several versions from old handbooks and developing in many individual interpretations. Although this popularity is certainly related to the basic appeal of the melody itself, the popularity did not emerge until early in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), just after Manchu rulers had driven out a native one, the Ming (1368-1644). Both geese and sandbanks have long been associated with exile, and the earliest surviving version of the melody was published by a Ming prince about to go into exile, Zhu Changfang. Zhu published it in his 1634 handbook Guyin Zhengzong.
Yan Luo Pingsha then quickly became popular during the ensuing Qing period. Presumably it was for political reasons that Qing dynasty publications did not mention the melody title’s associations with exile. Some instead suggest that the melody expresses detachment from worldly matters, or admiration for the lofty aims of wild geese. More often, though, they discuss technical matters, dealing obscurely with such matters as mode and comparative versions. —source
(my favorite traditional Chinese piece :)
Han Gong Qiu Yue 汉宫秋月 Autumn Moon over the Han Palace
Han Gong Qiu Yue means autumn moon of the palace in the Han Dynasty. There are respectively Guzheng, Erhu, and Pipa versions of this tune.
The music reveals the bitterness and grief of the young maids in the palace, stirring people’s sympathy towards the misfortune and loneliness of the girls.—source
Versions of this latter melody, also called Han Gong Qiu Yue (Autumn Moon over the Han Palace), Han Gong Qiu Yuan (Autumn Lament in the Han Palace) and Qiu Shan Yin (Autumn Fan Intonation), survive in at least 49 handbooks from 1589 to 1946.
The prefaces for all these are in some way connected with the Ban family, Ban Jieyuin particular, but there are some confusing details.
Ban Jieyu came from a family already very well known, though not yet as famous as it was to become. By her skillful action she at one time rescued her brother Ban Zhi from a charge of treason. Ban Zhi became the father of Ban Biao,a historian who in turn was father of Ban Gu and Ban Zhao,the brother and sister who were responsible for completing the history of the former Han dynasty; Ban Gu’s twin brother Ban Chao was perhaps China’s most famous frontier general.
Gazeteers include Guanshans in Shaanxi and Shandong provinces, but it is also a common allusion to separation from home. The prelude could thus also be translated Homesick.
The story related in the afterword to the present Han Gong Qiu is a scaled down version of a fairly well-known story about Ban Jieyu, the imperial concubine who at one time was the favorite of the Han emperor Chengdi.
Ban Jieyu had already proven her moral values by resisting the emperor’s attempts to persuade her to ride with him in his chariot, her artistic talents through her ability to recite poems from the Shi Jing, and her generosity by introducing her attendant Li Ping to the emperor. Eventually, however, she lost out to Zhao Feiyan, after which great skill was required to survive the jealousy of Zhao and her sister. To do this Ban Jieyu first had to defend herself against accusations that she had cursed the emperor. She then found safety by arranging to serve the empress dowager in her palace.
Ban Jieyu’s best poem is said to be one called Self-Commiseration.In it she speaks of her virtue, and her sadness at having been abandoned.
WANG CHIEN (1598-1677)
Landscape in the style of Huang Kung-wang. Dated 1657. Hanging scroll; ink on paper. Height: 1.1501.; width: 0.562 m.
Inscription: The mountain mists wind about and the roads cross too; Recently I built a rush hut, narrow but still beautiful. With my own hands I planted pines and firs, all old and large. For a whole year I have not trodden the gates and streets of the town.
In the winter of ting-yu [ 1657], imitating Ta-ch’ih’s [Huang Kung-wang’s] painting of “Autumn Mountains.” Wang Chien.
Wang Chien: Pao-chih-lou, before inscription; Wallg Chien chih yin (C & W, p. 82, no. ’3), after inscription.
Forged imperial seals: San-hsi-t’ang and Nei-ju t’u-shu, upper right; Mao-ch’in-tien chien-ting chang, upper center; Shih-ch’ii pao-chi, Chi-hsia i-ch’ing, Ch’ien-lung yu-wan, and I-tzu-sun, upper left.
Ho K’un-yii (early nineteenth century): Ho shih yu Yuan-ssu-chia hua-lou chih yin, upper right; Te-che pao-chih shu-ch’uan chiu-yuan, and Ho K’un-yu yin, lower right.
Ho Yiian-yii (early nineteenth century): Ch’u-an p’i-ai pu-chia pu-shih, upper right; Tuan-ch’i Ho shih Ch’u-an so-ts’ang i-shih wu-liang, lower right.
Ch’in Tsu-yung (1825-1 884): Lial1g-ch’i Ch’in Tsu-yung chien-Shang chen-chi, lower left.
Unidentified: Ku-shang Huang Chull-yuan Tzu-lin shih so-ts’ang ming-jen tzu-hua chih chang, lower left.
An inscription inside the box lid reads:
Feng-ch’ang’s [Wang Shih-Olin’s] and Lien-chou’s [Wang Chien’s] paintings both derive from Ta-ch’ih [Huang Kung-wang]; they have established the style of [the Ch’ing dynasty’s] 300 years. This painting by Lien-chou imitates Ta-ch’ih, and its spirit is very close to him. In discussing the orthodox tradition of Ch’ing painting one must begin with this rank. That it entered the Shih-ch’ii [the imperial Ch’ien-Iung collections], that it was owned and enjoyed by Ho K’un-yii, and that Mr. Tung An treasured and loved it, is possible. Tora [Naito Konan, 1870-1937] recorded. The year wu-ch’en , the fourth month.
Reference: ’In Pursuit of Antiquity: Chinese Paintings of the Ming and Ching Dynasties from the colleciton of Mr and Mrs Earl Morse’ by Roderick Whitfield
Pagoda Forest, China
Photograph by Fritz Hoffman
“Gained merit in battle” reads the epitaph of two of the 231 eminent Shaolin monks honored with shrines in the Pagoda Forest. The number of layers in a shrine reflects a monk’s virtue; his bones, and often those of disciples, are buried below.
Bamboo; Unidentified Artist in the style of Su Shi (1037–1101)
Ming (1368–1644) or Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Handscroll; ink on paper
11 1/16 x 110 1/8 in. (28.1 x 279.7 cm)
Line From the Collection of A. W. Bahr, Purchase, Fletcher Fund, 1947