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The Guqin and Feng Menglong 古琴與馮夢龍
A preliminary outline 1 Boya in a book by Feng Menglong 2      

A study of the popular writings of Feng Menglong (1574-1645) will reveal some prevalent attitudes towards qin during the late Ming dynasty. Here, as in other popular literature of the time (including theater), the qin is generally depicted as an elegant instrument, but it is also often associated with seduction. The following preliminary discussion of qin as mentioned in Feng's writings was done mostly by online searches of Chinese text.

Feng Menglong is perhaps best known through his collections of stories. These include his "San Yan" series of 120 old stories, re-told from sources dating from as far back as the Song dynasty),3 then published under three titles, as follows:

  1. Illustrious Words to Instruct the World (喻世明言 Yushi Mingyan), perhaps better known as Stories Old and New (古今小說 Gujin Xiaoshuo)
  2. Lasting Words to Awaken the World (醒世恆言 Xingshi Hengyan)
  3. Comprehensive Words to Admonish the World (警世通言 Jingshi Tongyan)

Also significant is a collection partially attributed to Feng of 108 stories centered on people from the Eastern Zhou period. He apparently wrote it based on an earlier source, but it seems to be best known as this later revision:

Several stories within these collections are of particular note. For example, Jingshi Tongyan has one called 俞伯牙摔琴謝知音 Yu Boya Shuai Qin Xie Zhiyin, translated as Yu Boya Smashes His Zither in Gratitude to an Appreciative Friend; there is some discussion under Bo Ya as to whether the name Yu Boya began with this story as related by Feng Menglong. Jingshi Tongyan also relates the story of Sima Xiangru's seduction of Zhuo Wenjun. And Dong Zhou Lie Guo Zhi has a story connected to a qin melody surviving from 1525, Doorbar Song (Yan Yi Ge).

Stories from these three collections that have within them the character "琴 qin" (often as part of stock expressions such as qin and sword, 5 qin and books, and qin, chess, books and painting) include the following:

  1. Illustrious Words to Instruct the World (喻世明言 Yushi Mingyan; fully translated in Stories Old and New, Yang, 2000)

  2. Lasting Words to Awaken the World (醒世恆言 Xingshi Hengyan; no complete translation)

  3. Comprehensive Words to Admonish the World (警世通言 Jingshi Tongyan; fully translated in Yang, 2005)

  4. Account of the States of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (東周列國志 Dong Zhou Lie Guo Zhi)

Note that often the mention of qin is in stock phrases rather than as depictions of playing. Thus 琴劍 qin jian (qin and sword) refers to a wandering scholar; 琴棋書畫 (qin, chess, books and painting) describes a cultivated person; and 琴瑟 qin se (marital harmony) often suggests a seduction.

In addition, Feng is credited with numerous opera libretti as well as the lyrics for collections of sanqu teahouse art songs as well as folk-style songs. Unfortunately, but typically, I have found no comment on whether Feng was involved in the creation of music for any of these texts.6

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 馮夢龍 Feng Menglong (1574-1645)
Born near Suzhou, style names 猶龍 etc., also many nicknames. Basic references include
Wiki and ICTCL (which states, "As an ardent champion of popular literature in its numerous forms, he contributed more to its preservation, growth and diversity than any [other] individual in premodern China). See also the online Chinese Colloquial Short Story and Its Style: A Study of the San-yen English Renditions in Late 19th – Early 21st Centuries.

Many of Feng's stories have been translated into English. Translation collections include:

  1. Howell, E. Butts. The Restitution of the Bride and Other Stories from the Chinese (New York: Brentano’s Publishers, 1926). This book is long out of print but is available in some collections such as the NUS library.
  2. Ted Wang and Chen Chen. The Oil Vendor and the Courtesan: Tales from the Ming Dynasty (New York: Welcome Rain Publishers, 2007)
  3. Yang, Shuhui, and Yunqin Yang. Stories Old and New (Seattle; London: University of Washington Press, 2000). A complete translation, partly online, e.g., via Google books.
  4. Yang, Shuhui and Yunqin Yang, Stories to Caution the World: A Ming Dynasty Collection (Seattle; London: University of Washington Press, 2005). A complete translation.
  5. Yang Xianyi, and Gladys Yang. The Courtesan’s Jewel Box: Chinese Stories of the Xth-XVII Centuries (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2001 & ca. 1981)
  6. Patrick Hanan: Falling in Love: Stories from Ming China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006)
  7. George Soulié de Morant. Chinese Love Tales (previous title: Eastern Shame Girl; 1935). Available online.

The Oil Vendor and the Courtesan: Tales from the Ming Dynasty has translations of eight of Feng's sanyan stories, two of which mention qin, #1 and #8:

  1. 賣油郎獨占花魁 The Oil Vendor and the Courtesan (醒世恆言 #3)
  2. 滕大尹鬼斷家私 Governor Teng Craftily Resolves a Family Dispute (喻世明言 #10)
  3. 徐老僕義憤成家 The Faithful Old Servant (醒世恆言 #35)
  4. 喬太守亂點鴛鴦譜 Judge Qiao Mismatches the Mandarin Ducks (醒世恆言 #8)
  5. 白娘子永鎮雷峰塔 The Woman in White Under Thunder Peak Pagoda (警世通言 #28)
  6. 施潤澤灘闕遇友 Weaver Shi Meets a Friend at the Strand (醒世恆言 #18)
  7. 況太守斷死孩兒 Lord Kuang Solves the Case of the Dead Infant (警世通言 #35)
  8. 赫大卿 遺恨鴛鴦縧 The Man Who Lost His Yin-Yang Cord and His Life in a Nunnery (醒世恆言 #15)

For mention of qin in operas and songs by Feng Menglong see the footnote below.
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2. Boya in Feng Menglong's Comprehensive Words to Admonish the World, 1624)
The text with the illustration says,

洋洋乎,志在高山;     Spectacular - imagining high mountains;
湯湯乎,志在流水。     Furiously bubbling - imagining flowing streams.

More common seems to have been:

巍巍乎,志在高山;     Majestic - imagining high mountains;
洋洋乎,志在流水。     Spectacular - imagining flowing streams.

The reason for selecting the former is not clear. 警世通言 #32 杜十娘怒沉百寶箱 Du Shiniang Sinks the Jewel Box in Anger (Du Shiniang: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Du_Shiniang) with an illustration having a qin accompanied by this couplet:
料淂旁儒囊底竭,故將財禮難嬌娘。 It apparently should be
料定窮儒囊底竭,故將財禮難嬌娘。
Couplet is half the poem: 從來海水斗難量,可笑虔婆意不良。 料定窮儒囊底竭,故將財禮難嬌娘。 see http://www.millionbook.net/gd/f/fengmenglong/jsty/032.htm -->
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3. The Three Accounts (三言 San Yan)
This name is derived from the fact that the three collections all end with the character "言 yan". They apparently consist of re-tellings of 120 old 話本 huaben (story outlines beginning from the Song dynasty). Their mentions of "qin can be outlined as follows:

  1. Illustrious Words to Instruct the World (喻世明言 Yushi Mingyan), perhaps better known as Stories Old and New (古今小說 Gujin Xiaoshuo)
    In almost all of the 14 titles listed above, qin is mentioned merely to indicate a cultivated person
  2. Lasting Words to Awaken the World (醒世恆言 Xingshi Hengyan)
    Although "qin" appears in at least 7, in at least two it seems to be used only as part of a name
  3. Comprehensive Words to Admonish the World (警世通言 Jingshi Tongyan)
    Few of the 11 titles listed actually depict qin play.

The available translations often mis-translate qin as lute.
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4. 東周列國志 Dong Zhou Lie Guo Zhi
This seems to be a re-working by 蔡元放 Cao Yuanfang of Feng's 新列國志 Xin Lie Guo Zhi. It mentions qin in at least 14 of its 108 stories. According to online information in 2006 Shaanxi Tourism Publishing House published this in 2 volumes under the title Eastern Zhou Zhi, but the listing at
biblio.com seems to suggest it is in Chinese; see also amazon.com. I have not yet seen it.
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5. Qin and sword (琴劍 qinjian)
21576.86 琴劍 says, "In the olden days qin and sword were objects that scholars 隨身携帶 kept on their person". It then gives two references:

  1. 梁元帝,法寶聯璧序 Fabao Lianbi Xu by Liang Yuandi (Xiao Yi, 508 - 554)
    箴興琴劍,銘自盤盂。 (Part of an extended passage in 4+4 structure; not yet translated)
  2. 薜能,送馮溫往河外詩 Xue Neng (9th c. CE; from 汾州 Fenzhou; high military rank; has six or seven poems in YFSJ), Poem on Seeing Off Feng Wen to Beyond the Lakes,
    琴劍事行裝,河關出北方。 With qin and sword serving as luggage....

"Qin and sword" is often seen in popular writing (see, e.g., above). It seems generally to suggest someone who has refined tastes but is willing to fight for his beliefs. There is a qin handbook called Handbook of Qin and Sword (1749).
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6. Mention of qin in operas and songs by Feng Menglong
ICTCL names 16 operas credited to Feng, adding that he also wrote several collections of 散曲 sanqu teahouse art songs as well as folk-style songs. Unfortunately, but typically, I have found no comment on whether Feng was involved in the creation of music for any of these texts
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