99 results in English
Collected Songs and Verses of Li He
Li He (790–816), courtesy name Changji, was a Chinese poet of the late-Tang dynasty, known for his unconventional and imaginative style. A native of Changgu, Henan Province, Li was unsuccessful in the imperial examination. He died at age 27, having worked, despite his distant royal ancestry, as a poor minor official. About 240 of his poems survive. Although his works were admired by the late-Tang poets, none of his poems made their way into the popular anthologies, such as Tang shi san bai shou (300 Tang poems). As indicated ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
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Romance of the West Chamber with Chen Meigong’s Critical Comments
Ding juan Chen Meigong xian sheng pi ping Xi xiang ji (Romance of the West Chamber with Chen Meigong’s critical comments) is a work by Wang Shifu (circa 1250–1307), a successful playwright of the Yuan dynasty, with commentary by Chen Jiru (also called Chen Meigong, circa 1558–1639), a painter-calligrapher and man of letters. This is a late-Ming edition in two juan, with two juan of explanatory text, one juan of Pudong shi (Poems of Pudong), and one juan of Qiantang meng (Dream of Qiantang). It was printed ...
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The Story of the Secluded Chamber, with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
You gui ji (Story of the secluded chamber), also entitled Bai yue ting ji (Story of the Moon-Worshipping Pavilion), is one of the five greatest Ming-dynasty long poetic dramas, called chuan qi. Attributed by some to Guan Hanqing (1220–1300), the Yuan playwright, and by others to Shi Hui (born 1295 or 1296), a native of Hangzhou and a Southern-style playwright at the end of the Yuan and the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the play has 40 scenes in two juan. The story takes place at the end of ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Four Cries of the Gibbon
This drama is by Xu Wei (1521–93), a literary writer, painter-calligrapher, and playwright. A native of Shanyin, Zhejiang, Xu Wei used various pseudonyms, among them Qingteng Jushi (Resident of the Green Vine House). Despite his talents and early achievements in painting, poetry, and essay writing, he failed in eight attempts to pass the civil examinations and never achieved a jin shi degree. He served under General Hu Zongxian, the supreme commander of the Jiangsu–Zhejiang–Fujian coastal defense against the Japanese pirates, but lost his post after the general ...
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The Four Dreams of Linchuan
Linchuan si meng, also called Yumingtang si meng (The four dreams of the Jade Tea Hall), is a collection of four major dramas by the famed Ming-dynasty dramatist Tang Xianzu (1550–1616): Zi chai ji (The story of the purple hairpin), Nan ke ji (Record of southern bough), Handan meng (Record of Handan), and most famously Mu dan ting (The peony pavilion). These dramas are called dreams, because dreams play a large role in the plot of each. Various editions of this collection appeared during the Ming and Qing dynasties ...
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Ten Misidentifications, or Riddles of the Spring Lantern Festival, a New Yonghuaitang Edition
Ruan Dacheng (circa 1587–1646) was a well-known late-Ming poet and dramatist from an influential family in Huaining, Anhui Province, and also a corrupt politician of unsavory reputation. He received his jin shi degree in 1616. While in office, he allied with Wei Zhongxian (1568–1627), a powerful eunuch, and was dismissed after the eunuch’s downfall. He retired to his native town, and later to Nanjing, and began writing poetry and drama. In 1644 he joined the court of the Ming loyalist Southern Ming (1644–62) regime, and rose ...
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The Swallow’s Message, Huaiyuantang Edition with Commentaries and Punctuations
Ruan Dacheng (circa 1587–1646) was a well-known late-Ming poet and dramatist from an influential family in Huaining, Anhui Province, and also a corrupt politician of unsavory reputation. He received his jin shi degree in 1616. While in office, he allied with Wei Zhongxian (1568–1627), a powerful eunuch, and was dismissed after the eunuch’s downfall. He retired to his native town, and later to Nanjing, and began writing poetry and drama. In 1644 he joined the court of the Ming loyalist Southern Ming (1644–62) regime, and rose ...
Contributed by National Central Library
A Romance at a Post-House
Qing you chuan qi (A romance at a post-house), also known as Qing you ji, is a play in two juan, written by Wu Bing (1595–1647), a famed late-Ming playwright from a family of officials in Changzhou. After achieving his jin shi degree, Wu Bing assumed the post of magistrate of Puqi, Hubei Province. Among his other posts were assistant superintendent of education in Jiangxi and service in the Bureau of Rivers and Canals, the Ministry of Works. He was known as an able, just official, but he later ...
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The Story of the Jade Box, with Li Zhuowu‘s Critical Comments
This work is by Mei Dingzuo (1549–1615), who based it on a Tang-dynasty romantic work entitled Liu shi zhuan (The story about the woman Liu) by Xu Yaozuo, and another work, Ben shi shi (Stories in verse), by Meng Qi. Mei had a large circle of literary friends, among them literary scholars Wang Shizhen and Wang Daokun and playwright Tang Xianzu. After repeatedly failing to pass the civil examinations, Mei devoted himself to writing poetry, novels, and dramas, and eventually became a prolific author. Among his best-known works are ...
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Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Newly Compiled Stories on the History of the Five Dynasties with Commentaries (Incomplete Copy)
One of the popular entertainments among the common people during the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) was storytelling. Historical events were particularly popular subjects. Stories often were told with the commentaries of the storytellers and thus were called ping hua (stories with commentaries). Some ping hua were published after being polished by the literati, but not many are still in existence. The author of this work is unknown. It is a collection of popular literature containing stories from the Five Dynasties (907–60), prior to the Song dynasty. It begins ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Akogi
Noh is a classical Japanese performance art that developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the patronage of the shogunate. It became one of the favorite pastimes of the ruling class in Japan. Noh drama consists of dance and music. An utai-bon (book of lyrics) was made for each song in the drama. Noh was most popular during the 17th century, so many utai-bon, or Noh libretti, were published at that time. Shown here is a part of an utai-bon of Kanze-ryū style, one of ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Tales of Ise
Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise) is a collection of some 125 brief episodes, combining elements of prose and poetry, that dates from the early Heian period (9th−10th centuries). The protagonist is believed to be modeled on Ariwarano Narihira (825−80), a handsome aristocrat who had many romantic affairs. The main character’s romances, friendships, heartbroken wandering life, and various other stories are narrated in a style that owes much to waka (literally, Japanese poems). The work had a great influence on later Japanese literature, including Genji monogatari (The ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Album of Appreciation of the Fragrance of Spring
Takuhanga is a printing technique in which a cloth-covered cotton ball containing black ink is patted on wet paper placed on an intaglio-engraved woodblock. The technique derives from takuhon, the art of rubbing found in Chinese copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy. This late-18th-century takuhanga album includes poems in the Chinese style celebrating the spring scenery of Kyoto written by learned men from the city who were students of Chinese literature, including Iwagaki Ryūkei (1741−1808). The drawings are by prominent Kyoto artists from the time ...
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Tsukishima
Tsukishima is a Kōwaka-mai (dance drama) ballad that dates from the Muromachi period (1336−1573). It is also called Hyōgo or Hyōgo tsukishima. The literal meaning of “tsukishima” is "making an island," and the ballad is based on an episode in which Taira no Kiyomori (1118−81), a general and noble, built a new port in Fukuhara, Hyōgo. The story starts with Kiyomori's decision to build the port. To ensure the success of the construction, 30 people are captured in order to be made human sacrifices to the gods ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Ibuki Dōji, the Boy from Mount Ibuki
This picture scroll of an otogizōshi (Japanese fairy tales of the Muromachi era, 1392−1573), recounts the childhood of Shuten Dōji, the oni (demon) who would one day be subdued by the real-life warrior, Minamoto no Yorimitsu. It tells the story of Shuten Dōji’s birth and his childhood on Mount Ibuki in the old province of Ōmi, protected by wild animals and feeding on magical herbs that prevented old age and death, up to the time he went to live on Mount Ōe-yama in the former province of Tanba ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Taishokan
Taishokan is a story loosely based on the life of Fujiwara no Kamatari (614−69), who was a famous court official. In the story, the daughter of Kamatari is married to the emperor of China. When she hears that her father is going to build the main hall of the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara, she sends him Mugehōju, a precious crystal with divine powers, as a gift. While a military escort is sailing to Japan with the crystal, dragons attack the ship and the treasure is carried down to the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Military Epic about the Life of Yoshitsune
Gikei ki tells a fictional story based on the life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a famous military commander of the 12th century. In the book, Yoshitsune’s elder brother Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun in the history of Japan, becomes suspicious of his younger brother’s ambition after his glorious victories in a series of battles. By order of Yoritomo, Yoshitsune is expelled from Kyoto, hounded, and finally forced to commit suicide. The tragic story of Yoshitsune has long been popular in Japan and was often described in novels and dramas ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Story of the Moon and the Sun
Tsukimitsu no sōshi (Story of the moon and the sun) is one of the otogizōshi, Japanese fairy tales of the Muromachi period (1336−1573). In the story, Hō’ō and Sansō, sons of a very wealthy man in Magada-koku, Tenjiku (an old name for India), were exiled by their stepmother to Shiomizu Island. Their dead birth mother changes herself into a large bird of paradise in order to protect and raise them. The boys eventually are rescued by their father, and grow up to be tsuki (the moon) and hi ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
A Collection of Japanese Paintings
This picture book is by Hishikawa Moronobu (died 1694) a representative artist in the earliest days of ukiyo-e. It consists of 20 pictures depicting popular scenes from classical Japanese literature, including Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise), Genji monogatari (The tale of Genji), and yōkyoku (chants of Noh plays). Moronobu was the first artist who put his signature on printed books. On the colophon of this work, he identifies himself as Yamato-e-shi (artist of classical Japanese paintings), thereby showing his professional confidence in himself as an artist. The National Diet ...
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Painting of the Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion during the Spring Purification Festival
This rubbing scroll combines two works: Lanting xu tie (Calligraphy of the preface to the poems composed at the Orchid Pavilion) by Wang Xizhi (321−79), and Liu shang tu (The floating goblets), originally a painting, by the Song artist Li Gonglin (1049−1106). Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1736−95) commissioned this scroll, which was reprinted from the Song rubbing with the missing parts added, based on the fragment of Lanting tu (Illustrations of Lanting) by Zhu Yiyin (1536−1603), Prince Yi of the Ming dynasty. The missing part of the ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Rubbings of Inscriptions on Mao Gong Ding, the Duke Mao Tripod
Mao Gong Ding, the bronze tripod cauldron, was excavated at the end of the Daoguang period (1821−50) in Qishan County, Shaanxi. Dings were used widely as ritual vessels and became hierarchical symbols during the Zhou dynasty (circa 1046−256 BC). This is the most famous ding, originally belonging to Mao Gong. There are 497 characters on the inside of the vessel, the longest bronze inscription known to this day. The inscription records the history of the late Western Zhou (circa 1046−771 BC), specifically the reign of Emperor Xuan ...
Contributed by National Library of China
The Noble Knights-errant of the Water Margin, with Commentary by Li Zhuowu, in 100 Juan
Shown here is chapter one of an important version of one of the great classics of Chinese literature, Shui hu zhuan (The water margin), which is attributed to Shi Nai'an (circa 1290−circa 1365). The early editions of this work were issued in two kinds of format; one was unabridged and the other concise. The unabridged text appeared arranged in 70, 100, or 120 juan (chapters), the earliest being of 100 chapters. This edition, Li Zhuowu xian sheng pi ping Zhong yi shui hu zhuan, 100 juan (The noble ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Dream of the Red Chamber in 120 Chapters
Xin jian quan bu xiu xiang Hong lou meng (Newly printed complete illustrated edition of the Dream of the red chamber) is also known as the Cheng-A edition. It is the first printed edition of the classic novel written by Cao Xueqin (circa 1715−63), one of China’s greatest novelists. Included here are the preface and comments by Zhang Ruzhi at the tops of the pages, the table of contents, and three chapters. The book was in the collection of Zheng Zhenduo (1898–1958) before entering the collections of ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Ramayana
The oral tradition of the Burmese Ramayana story can be traced as far back as the reign of King Anawrahta (active 1044−77), the founder of the first Burmese empire. The story was transmitted orally from generation to generation before being written down in prose and verse and as a drama. The earliest known written Burmese version of the Ramayana is Rama Thagyin (Songs from the Ramayana), compiled by U Aung Phyo in 1775. A three-volume copy of the Rama story called Rama vatthu was written on palm leaf in ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Tale of Kiều
Truyện Kiều (The tale of Kiều), written by Nguyễn Du (1765−1820) is regarded as the most significant poem in Vietnamese literature. It was composed in Lục-bát (6-8) stanzas and its original title in Vietnamese is Ðoạn Trường Tân Thanh (A new cry from a broken heart). However, it is better known as Truyện Kiều or Kim Văn Kiều. The story is based on a 17th century Ming Chinese novel, which Nguyễn Du discovered while he was on an ambassadorial mission to China in 1813. The plot portrays the chaotic ...
Contributed by The British Library
Buddhist Texts, Including the Legend of Phra Malai, with Illustrations of The Ten Birth Tales
The legend of Phra Malai, a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition said to have attained supernatural powers through his accumulated merit and meditation, is the main text in this 19th-century Thai samut khoi (folding book) held in the Thai, Lao, and Cambodian Collections of the British Library. Phra Malai figures prominently in Thai art, religious treatises, and rituals associated with the afterlife, and the story is one of the most popular subjects of 19th-century illustrated Thai manuscripts. The earliest surviving examples of Phra Malai manuscripts date back to the ...
Contributed by The British Library
The Tale of Kiều
This is a manuscript of Truyện Kiều (also known as Kim Văn Kiều; The tale of Kiều) by Nguyễn Du (1765−1820), perhaps the most important poem in Vietnamese literature. It is written in Chữ Nôm (Sino-Vietnamese characters). The story is based on a 17th-century Ming Chinese novel, which Nguyễn Du read while he traveled to China in 1813. The plot portrays the chaotic political and social circumstances of Vietnam in the 18th century, which was beset by dynastic struggles. The theme of the story is filial devotion, one of ...
Newly Inscribed Medical Understandings of the Medical Master Hải Thượng. Introductory Volume
Shown here is the introductory volume to an extensive set of medical, philosophical, and literary writings by the famous physician Lê Hữu Trác (commonly known as Hải Thượng Lãn Ông, 1720–91). The full set includes 61 volumes, plus this head volume or introductory volume, and an end or addendum volume. The set also includes two prefaces: one by Hải Thượng, the author, written in the year 1770, the other by Lê Cúc Linh. In this volume, there is one article on common rules and conventions used in the series ...
Khủn Tinh Poems
This work is among the most important written representations of the folklore of the Thai, or Tay, people in Vietnam, an ethnic group that once lived in southwest China, northeast Thailand, and Burma. Thai people migrated south about 1,000 years ago to escape from the Chinese, and in the present day constitute one of the largest minorities in Vietnam. The written language of Vietnamese Thai people has passed from use, although the spoken form is a dialect understandable by other Thai speakers. This book is a novel written in ...
Gratitude to a Father
This two-volume work is a memorial collection of haiku (a short poem) published by the Edo period Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjūrō II (1688−1758) on the 27th anniversary of the death of his father, Ichikawa Danjūrō I (1660−1704). Entitled Chichi no on (Gratitude to a father), the poems are imbued with the determination of the son never to forget his filial piety for his father, who died when the son was still a boy. Of the 70 illustrations, 66 are monochrome prints drawn by Hanabusa Ippō (1691−1760) who ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Moon-Mad Monk, or Crazy Gazing at the Moon
Shown here is an illustrated anthology, in color, published in 1789 by Tsutaya Jūzaburō (1750−1797), a publisher of the Edo period (1600−1868). It contains 72 kyōka (humorous and satirical Japanese poems of 31 syllables) written about the moon and five pictures painted by the ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro (circa 1753–1806). The title Kyōgetsubō (The moon-mad monk, or crazy gazing at the moon) means a man driven mad by the moon, but it is said to be a reference to the poet Gyōgetsubō (Reizei Tamemori 1265−1328), who ...
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The Bowl-Bearer Princess
Published in the middle of the Edo period (18th century), this is a booklet for children that consists mainly of drawings. It is called an akahon (red book) because of the color of its front cover. Hachikazuki hime (The bowl-bearer princess) is a story that was written in the Muromachi period (14th−16th centuries). The story runs as follows. A long, long time ago, a rich man lived in Kawachi Province (present-day Osaka Prefecture). His prayers to Hase Kannon (Buddhist god of mercy) were answered by the birth of a ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Tongue-Cut Sparrow
This is a chirimen-bon (crepe-paper book), which is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing woodblock-printed pictures and text.  It was called a chirimen-bon because the paper was crinkled until it assumed a cloth-like texture. Published from the middle of the Meiji period until the beginning of the Showa period, chirimen-bon were illustrated translations of Japanese folk stories that were originally intended to increase the exposure of Japanese people to foreign languages after kaikoku (the reopening of Japan in the mid-19th century). However, they soon ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom
Presented here is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing pictures and text that are woodblock-printed on textureless paper called hiragami (flat paper). Kobunsha, the publishing company managed by Takejirō Hasegawa, started to translate and publish Nihon Mukashibanashi (Japanese fairy tale series) in 1885. Hanasaki Jiji (The old man who made the dead trees blossom) is a story from the series. It tells of a nice old married couple who kept a pet dog. One day when they dug at a place indicated by the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Complementary Compilation of Shangu’s Ci Poetry
This work is a collection of ci poetry by the Northern Song poet Huang Tingjian (1045−1105), courtesy name Luzhi, style names Shangu Daoren and Fuweng, a native of Fenning, Hongzhou (present-day Xiushui, Jiangxi). Huang’s poetry and prose were admired by his contemporary poet and calligrapher Su Shi (1037−1101) and widely known. Su and Huang enjoyed equal popularity and were often mentioned together as Su-Huang. During the early years of the Yuanyou reign (1086−94), Huang, together with Zhang Lei (1054−1114), Qin Guan (1049−1100), and Chao ...
Contributed by National Central Library
A Combined Collection of Sao Songs from the Wu Area, Selected and Published by Baixuezhai
This work, in four juan, is also called Wu sao he bian (A combined collection of Sao songs from the Wu area). It was compiled by Zhang Chushu and Zhang Xuchu of the late Ming. Zhang Chushu of Wulin (present-day Hangzhou, Zhejiang), named Qi, style names Saoyin Jushi and Baixuezhai Zhuren, was skilled in ci and qu poetry. Zhang Xuchu, style names Banling Daoren and Lingqiao, was Zhang Chushu’s younger brother. The work contains prefaces by the Zhangs, Chen Jiru, and Xu Dangshi. It was printed during the years ...
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Third Edition of the Five Southern Dramas
This work contains five southern dramas: Huan sha ji (The tale of washing silk), Jin yin ji (The tale of the golden seal), Xiang nang ji (The tale of the purple sachet), Xiu ru ji (The story of the embroidered coat), and Feng ming ji (The tale of the crying phoenix). The Tale of Washing Silk, also called Wu Yue chun qiu (Annals of the states of Wu and Yue), in two juan, was written by Ming dramatist Liang Chenyu (circa 1519−circa 1591). Liang, courtesy name Bolong, style names ...
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Dharma Wonder Boy
This early-18th century work by an unknown artist is a typical example of Nara-ehon, the illustrated manuscripts or hand-printed scrolls and books produced in Japan from the Muromachi (1333-1573) through the mid-Edo (1615-1868) periods. The Hōmyō dōji is originally an East Indian story with roots in Buddhism. Like many such stories, it begins with the characteristic phrase, “Once upon a time in the land of the Buddha...” It goes on to tell the story of a child who was chosen to become a sacrifice for a giant snake. The child ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Commentary on Key Words and Phrases, Volumes 55-57
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Genealogy, Volume 58
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress