A Study on the Thematic, Narrative, and Musical Structure of Guan Hanqing’s Yuan «Zaju, Injustice to Dou E»

by Yumin Ao (Author)
©2015 Monographs XVI, 233 Pages


This book is a study of the thematic, narrative, and musical structure of Yuanqu xuan [A Selection of Yuan Plays] edition of the Yuan zaju (variety play) Dou E yuan [Injustice to Dou E] originally composed by the highly regarded playwright Guan Hanqing (fl. 1260). Although other authors have studied these three aspects of Dou E yuan separately, this is the first comprehensive treatment of the topic as a scholarly monograph in English. Yumin Ao’s analysis is based on the edition of the play in the Yuanqu xuan [A Selection of Yuan Plays] compiled by the Ming publisher Zang Maoxun (ca. 1550–1620). Ao proposes that Dou E yuan, as a dramatic narrative which develops through its enactment on the stage rather than by verbal presentation as a story, displays its integrative structure of narration through its thematic development and within its musical conventions.

Table Of Contents

← vi | viiTables

1.1Zaju Plays Attributed to Guan Hanqing and Their Inclusion in Selections of Traditional Chinese Dramas

1.2Comparison of the Gu mingjia and Yuanqu xuan Editions of Dou E yuan

4.1Thematic Structure of Dou E yuan

5.1The Distribution of the Characters and Role Types in Dou E yuan

5.2The Character and Scene Matrix in Dou E yuan

5.3Number of Lines the Characters Deliver in Each Scene in Dou E yuan

5.4Number of Lines in Each Scene and Total Number of Lines in Dou E yuan

5.5Degree of Individuality of the Characters in Dou E yuan

5.6Scenic Presences of Pairs of Characters in Dou E yuan

6.1Song Arrangements in the Xianlü Acts of Three Yuan Zaju Dramas

7.1Song Arrangements in the Nanlü Act of Dou E yuan in Contrast to the Zhengge of the Nanlü Mode Song-set

8.1Song Arrangements in the Zhenggong Act of Dou E yuan in Contrast to the Zhengge of the Zhenggong Mode Song-set

8.2Song Arrangements in the Shuangdiao Act of Dou E yuan

8.3The Structure of the Four Song-sets and the Scenes in Dou E yuan← vii | viii

← viii | ixAcknowledgments

This monograph is based on my thesis, submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, in January 2011. I have incurred numerous debts to many teachers, colleagues and friends in the course of writing this thesis. First, I owe a long-standing debt of gratitude to Dr. Xiaohuan Zhao for his intellectual inspiration, patient guidance, and invaluable criticisms on the original manuscript of my work. Associate Professor Roy Starrs has also provided valuable advice, for which I am grateful. I wish to express my gratitude to the Department of Languages and Cultures and its staff, and especially to Professor Tim Mehigan, Dr. Simon Ryan and Dr. Paola Voci, for the considerable amount of support that I have received. I have also benefited enormously from several scholars and friends who have read parts of the preliminary drafts and who have offered stimulating suggestions and criticisms: Associate Professor Nanyan Guo, Dr. Andrew Collins, Professor Ren Shengming, Professor Mei Sun, and Mr. Ma Weijun, whose detailed comments on the chapters or the work as a whole have been invaluable.

A University of Otago Postgraduate Scholarship enabled me to write the thesis, and a New Zealand Postgraduate Study Abroad Award, a grant from the New Zealand government, funded a trip to China and Taiwan that allowed me to collect sources. I also obtained Humanities Ph.D. conference funding to attend international conferences, which provided me with an excellent opportunity to present my research and exchange views with a number of scholars in my field.

← ix | xGenerous assistance from many librarians has greatly lightened my research work. I am particularly grateful to Timothy Wu, Thelma Fisher and the staff of the Otago University Library for their unfailing assistance, and to the Library of the Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Sun Yat-sen University in China. I also wish to express my thanks to the Fu Sinian Library of the Institute of History and Philology and the Library of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica in Taiwan for making reference books available during my visit.

My thanks go, above all, to my parents, whose tireless support and warm encouragement helped me through every stage of the writing of the thesis, and to my husband Ulrich Steinvorth, who insisted on my publishing and helped edit the final version.

Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from ancient, medieval, and modern Chinese works below are my own. When translations have been taken or adapted from other works, I have given the relevant bibliographic details in the footnotes.

I base this study on Zang Maoxun’s Yuanqu xuan version of Dou E yuan and use the modern edition in the collection of Wang Jisi Images, Quan Yuan xiqu Images [A Complete Collection of Yuan Dramas], vol. 1 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1999), 181–211.

Note that English translations of this edition of Dou E yuan are generally from the translation by Qian Ma, Women in Traditional Chinese Theater: The Heroine’s Play (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2005), 50–86.← xi | xii

Shang Images

ca.1766–1067 BC

Zhou Images

1067–221 BC

Spring and Autumn Period Images

722–481 BC

Warring States Period Images

475–221 BC

Qin Images

221–206 BC

Han Images

206 BC–AD 220

Six Dynasties Period Images

AD 220–589

Sui Images


Tang Images


Five Dynasties Period Images


Northern Song Images


Southern Song Images


Yuan Images


Ming Images


Qing Images

1644–1911← xiii | xiv

← xiv | xvAbbreviations


Beici guangzheng pu Images [The Authoritative Collection of Northern Arias]


Guben xiqu congkan Images [Periodical Volumes of Ancient Editions of Traditional Drama]


Guan Hanqing yanjiu lunwen ji Images [A Collection of Research Articles on Guan Hanqing]


Gujin mingju hexuan Images [A Collection of Old and New Famous Plays]


Gu mingjia zaju Images [Old Dramas of Famous Playwrights]


Huainanzi Images [Writings of the Prince of Huainan]


Lugui bu Images [The Register of Ghosts]


Yuan zaju liantao yanjiu Images [A Study of Song-sets of Yuan Drama]


Maiwang guan chaojiao ben gujin zaju Images [Printed and Edited Old and New Zaju Plays from the Maiwang Hall]


Lidai quhua huibian: xinbian Zhongguo gudian xiqu lunzhu jicheng Images : Images [A New Collection of Treatises on Classical Chinese Theatre]


Qinglou ji Images [The Green Bower Collection]


Soushen ji Images [In Search of Spirits]← xv | xvi


Shuo yuan Images [Florilegia of Accounts]


Song-Yuan xiqu shi Images [History of Song and Yuan Drama]


Beiqu taoshi huilu xiangjie Images [Collected Song-sets of the Northern Lyric Songs with Detailed Explanations]


Yuankan zaju sanshi zhong Images [The Thirty Zaju Plays Printed in the Yuan Dynasty]


Yuanqu xuan Images [A Selection of Yuan Plays]


Yuanqu xuan waibian Images [A Sequel to the Yuanqu xuan]


Zhongguo gudian xiqu lunzhu jicheng Images [A Collection of Treatises on Classical Theatre]


Zhongyuan yinyun Images [The Sound and Rhymes of the Central Plain]

← xvi | 1 Introduction

This book is a study of Yuanqu xuan Images [A Selection of Yuan Plays; hereafter cited as YQX] edition of the Yuan zaju Images (variety play) Dou E yuan Images [Injustice to Dou E] originally composed by the highly-regarded playwright Guan Hanqing Images (fl. 1260), in terms of its thematic, narrative and musical structures. This is the first comprehensive treatment of the topic as a scholarly monograph in English, although other authors have studied these three aspects of Dou E yuan separately.


XVI, 233
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (November)
Yuan Plays Ming Dou E chinese theater
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XVI, 233 pp.

Biographical notes

Yumin Ao (Author)

Yumin Ao received her PhD in Chinese literature at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has experience in teaching and conducting research in Chinese language and literature at universities in Mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, and the United States. She currently teaches Chinese language, literature, and Asian cultures at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, United States.


Title: A Study on the Thematic, Narrative, and Musical Structure of Guan Hanqing’s Yuan «Zaju, Injustice to Dou E»
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