The New Edition, with Sound Notations and Illustrations, of the Story of Han Peng and Ten Righteous Men


Xin kan yin zhu chu xiang Han Peng shi yi ji (New edition, with sound notations and illustrations, of the story of Han Peng and ten righteous men) is a Ming poetic drama by an unknown author. Qu hai zong mu ti yao (Abstracts of the repertoire of ancient operas), compiled by Dong Kang (1867−1947), affirms that this is a Ming work, but states that it is a composition without a known source or author. The play tells a story set at the time of Huang Chao, a ninth-century rebel leader, who sought to overthrow the Tang dynasty. Infatuated with the beautiful Li Cuiyun, wife of Han Peng, Huang fabricated a charge against the couple. Luckily, ten righteous persons, including Huang’s sworn brother Li Changguo, along with Zhang Yi, Han Fu, and others rescued the maligned couple and upheld justice, hence the title of the work. The story is based on two sources. One was the tragic love story of Han Ping and his wife in Sou shen ji (In search of gods) by Gan Bao of the Eastern Jin (317−420). In this story, King Kang of the state of Song forcibly took the wife of Han Ping, and the couple later committed suicide. The other source was the story of Ba yi ji (Eight righteous men), adapted by Xu Yuan, the Ming dramatist, from the Yuan play Zhao shi gu er (The orphan of Zhao). The latter play is about eight righteous men, including Cheng Ying and Gongsun Chujiu, who rescued the orphan of Zhao Dun, a nobleman in the state of Jin. Tang Fuchun (active in the early 17th century) owned the publishing house Fuchuntang, where he published approximately 100 poetic dramas. The script under the heading of each juan of this copy indicates that it was printed by Tang Fuchun of Duixi, Jinling (Nanjing). The pages are printed with frames in stylized cloud patterns. The table of contents lists 27 scenes, but the text ends with a 28th scene in a few lines. The work has 18 illustrations, with each covering a half leaf, placed in between the text. Juan 1 has 11 illustrations and Juan 2 has seven. The engraving is simple and unadorned. The complete work is presented here.

Last updated: October 29, 2015