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, including those published by Shuyetang in Wujun at the end of the Ming dynasty. This edition was edited and issued by Zang Maoxun (1550–1620), also a playwright. The prefaces were written by Tang Xianzu and Zang Maoxun. The illustrations are exquisitely executed, with inscriptions filling the blank spaces on the top. The expressions of portrayed figures are accurate and in proportion to the background and the landscapes. The Peony Pavilion and The Story of the Purple Hairpin have more architectural depictions than in the other plays, and there are more landscapes in Record of Southern Bough and Record of Handan. The illustrations are representative of the renowned Anhui engraving style and superb craftsmanship in the drawing and engraving. Tang Xianzu, a native of Linchuan, Jiangxi, received his provincial examination degree of ju ren at the age of 21 and his jin shi degree more than ten years later. He held official positions in Nanjing, Guangdong, and other places, and retired in 1598 to his hometown, where he devoted himself to writing. His plays are still performed on the Chinese stage, either in adapted but full-text versions, or in selected famous scenes. The National Central Library has several editions of this work, including a Wanli edition (1605) and late-Ming editions that were printed at local bookshops.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Shuyetang, Wujun, China


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Physical Description

8 juan, 16 volumes : illustrations ;  22 x 13.9 centimeters


  • Only preface and juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: December 24, 2013