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Qin in Qiannü Lihun 1
(The Disembodied Soul of Miss Qian 2, an opera)
古琴與倩女離魂
"Qiannü" and Wang Wenju, two versions3      

In many of the operas described here a man or woman is seduced by hearing a qin played. In the present story Miss Qian and her nephew Wang Wenju have grown up together and are already in love. However, her mother opposes their marriage, and so Wang leaves in disappointment, taking a boat to Sichuan. However, Miss Qian's soul then leaves her body and pursues Wang. They meet when from the riverbank she hears him playing qin on his boat. They go on to live in Shu and have many children. When they finally return, Miss Qian's spirit is reunited with her original body, which had been home in bed, apparently sick.

This Yuan drama is perhaps the most well-known example of a story depicting a woman who is frustrated in love, but whose soul is able to leave her body, take physical form, and in this way marry the man she loves. However, the story had much earlier origins. It is most closely based on a Tang dynasty story called Record of a Detached Soul, by Chen Xuanyou.4 And this, in turn, seems to trace its origins at least to a story in Youming Lu by Liu Yiqing (403-444) called Pang A.5

The images at right, reminiscent of some depictions of Bo Ya playing the qin (see Jiang Yue Bai), are connected to Act 2 of the Yuan drama.6 Wang is on a boat playing qin to express his sadness at having to leave Miss Qian. She (i.e., her soul, but in physical form) hears the music and comes to see who is playing, hoping it is Wang. In her song she mentions 雁起平沙 geese rising from a sand bank (compare Geese Descending on a Sandbank). He hears her voice and hopes it is her. As they speak she compares him to Bo Ya.

 

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qiannü Lihun 倩女離魂
The opera was by 鄭光祖 Zheng Guangzu (fl. 1294). Miss Qian is 倩女; Wang Wenju is 王文舉.

The information here comes largely from Zhang Zhenjun, "On the Origins of Detached Soul Motif in Chinese Literature", in the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 9, No.2, 2009, pp. 167-184 (Academy of East Asian Studies, Seoul). I could only read it by doing a Google search then viewing it as a Google document.

There seems to be at least one film telling this story: 倩女離魂 Qian nu li hun (with: Ai Wei, 藍海青 Lan Haiqing, Hsia Ching-Ting, 周思潔 Zhou Sijie.)

A page in www.cultural-china.com says the following:

A Fair Girl's Soul Departed was the masterwork of Zheng Guangzu, and one of the most outstanding works among the poetic dramas in the late Yuan Dynasty as well. The script was developed from the novel Story of Soul Departed written by Chen Xuanyou in the Tang Dynasty. It describes the image and character of a fair girl who pursues freedom of marriage and will not allow anyone to manipulate her marriage.

On the aspect of artistic description, A Fair Girl's Soul Departed had a thick atmosphere of expressing feelings: the description detailed but not delicate, and the words exquisite but not seem like polished. Section Two describes the girl's departed soul chasing Wang Wenju, blending words of verse with aside to a perfect degree and accomplished the process at one go. It vividly delineates the girl's nervousness, the scene she speeded up on road as well as the beautiful scenery of the river bank in the moon night.

The above was accompanied by an image very similar to that at upper right.
(Return)

2. The Disembodied Soul
One can also find many other translations of the title, including,

  1. A Pretty Girl Leaves her Body Behind
  2. The departed soul of Qiannu
  3. An Entrancing Woman Separates from her Soul
  4. Qiannü's Soul Goes Wandering
  5. A Fair Girl's Soul Departed
    (Return)

3. Images:

  1. The upper image is from a woodblock print that has written on its lower right 調素琴書生寫恨 . The original print is from 元曲論 Yuan Qu Lu by 陶宗儀 Tao Zongyi (Ming) as reproduced in 續修四庫全書 Xuxiu Siku Quanshu, Vol. 1763, p. 213; there it was placed directly to the right of another image from the play.
  2. The lower image is from a woodblock print that has written on its upper right 調素琴王生寫恨 . It can also be found in 新鐫古今名劇柳緝枝集, reproduced in 續修四庫全書 Xuxiu Siku Quanshu, Vol. 1760, p. 248 (see also in Judith T. Zeitlin, The Phantom Heroine, Ghost and Gender in 17th century Chinese Literature. Honolulu, U. Hawaii Press, 2007, p. 153 (Google books). Zeitlin says it is "showing the phantom heroine standing on a bridge with her sleeves hanging down as she listens to her lover play the lute. Zhang Maoxun, Yuanxu tuxuan, facsimile reprint of 1616 edition."

See also another.
(Return)

4. Record of a Detached Soul (離魂記 Lihun Ji)
By 陳玄祐 Chen Xuanyou (fl. 779). Here Miss Qian is called 倩娘 Qianniang and Wang is named 王宙 Wang Zhou. Wang is still her nephew, but it is her father who opposes their marriage, betrothing her to someone else.
(Return)

5. Pang'a (龐阿)
By 劉義慶 Liu Yiqing (403 - 444). The title is also written Pang'a, Pang'e, etc.
(Return)

6. Act 2
The original text is in the Appendix below (converted from simplified characters).
(Return)

 
Appendix
倩女離魂
(Act 2, from
http://baike.baidu.com/view/170239.htm)

第二折

(夫人慌上,云)歡喜未盡,煩惱又來。自從倩女孩兒在折柳亭與王秀才送路,辭別回家,得其疾病,一臥不起。請的醫人看治,不得痊可,十分沈重,如之奈何?則怕孩兒思想湯水吃,老身親自去繡房中探望一遭去來。
(下)

(正末上,云)小生王文舉,自與小姐在折柳亭相別,使小生切切於懷,放心不下。今夜艤舟江岸,小生橫於膝,操一曲以適悶咱。

(做撫科)

(正旦別扮離魂上,云)妾身倩女,自與王生相別,思想的無奈,不如跟他同去,背著母親,一徑的趕來。王生也,你只管去了,爭知我如何過遣也呵!(唱)

【越調.鬥鵪鶉】人去陽台,云歸楚峽。不爭他江渚停舟,幾時得門庭過馬。悄悄冥冥,瀟瀟灑灑,我這裡踏岸沙,步月華。我覷著這萬水千山,都只在一時半霎。

【紫花兒序】想倩女心間離恨,趕王生柳外蘭舟,似盼張騫天上浮槎。汗溶溶瓊珠瑩臉,亂松松云髻堆鴉,走的我筋力疲乏。你莫不夜泊秦淮賣酒家,向斷橋西下,疏剌剌秋水孤浦,冷清清明月蘆花。

(云)走了半日,來到江邊,聽的人語喧鬧,我試覷咱。(唱)

【小桃紅】驀聽得馬嘶人語鬧喧嘩,掩映在垂楊下。唬的我心頭丕丕那驚怕,原來是響當當鳴榔板捕魚蝦。我這裡順西風悄悄聽沈罷,趁著這厭厭露華,對著這澄澄月下,驚的那呀呀呀寒雁起平沙。

【調笑令】向沙堤款踏,莎草帶霜滑。掠濕湘裙翡翠紗,抵多少蒼苔露冷凌波襪。看江上晚來堪畫,玩水壺瀲灧天上下,似一片碧玉無瑕。

【禿廝兒】你覷遠浦孤鶩落霞,枯藤老樹昏鴉。聽長笛一聲何處發,歌俄欸乃,櫓咿啞。

(云)兀那船頭上聲響,敢是王生?我試聽咱。(唱)

【聖藥王】近蓼窪,望蘋花,有折蒲衰柳老蒹葭。近水凹,傍短槎,見煙籠寒水月籠沙,茅舍兩三家。

(正末云)這等夜深,只聽得岸上女人聲音,好似我倩女小姐,我試問一聲波。

(做問科,云)那壁不是倩女小姐麼?這早晚來此怎的?

(魂旦相見科,云)王生也,我背著母親,一徑的趕將你來,咱同上京去罷。

(正末云)小姐,你怎生直趕到這裡來?

(魂旦唱)

【麻郎兒】你好是舒心的伯牙,我做了沒路的渾家。你道我為甚麼私離繡榻?待和伊同走天涯。

(正末云)小姐是車兒來?是馬兒來?

(魂旦唱)

【麼】險把咱家走乏。比及你遠赴京華,薄命妾為伊牽掛,思量心幾時撇下。

【絡絲娘】你拋閃咱比及見咱,我不瘦殺多應害殺。

(正末云)若老夫人知道,怎了也?

(魂旦云)他若是趕上咱待怎麼?常言道做著不怕!

(正末做怒科,云)古人云:“聘則為妻,奔則為妾。”老夫人許了親事,待小生得官,回來諧兩姓之好,卻不名正言順。你今私自趕來,有玷風化,是何道理?

(魂旦云)王生!(唱)

【雪裡梅】你振色怒增加,我凝睇不歸家。我本真情,非為相唬,已主定心猿意馬。

(正末云)小姐,你快回去罷!

(魂旦唱)

【紫花兒序】只道你急煎煎趲登程路,元來是悶沈沈困倚書,怎不教我痛煞煞淚濕琵琶。有甚心著霧鬢輕籠蟬翅,雙眉淡掃宮鴉。似落絮飛花,誰待問出外爭如只在家。更無多話,願秋風駕百尺高帆,盡春光付一樹鉛華。

(云)王秀才,趕你不為別,我只防你一件。

(正末云)小姐,防我那一件來?

(魂旦唱)【東原樂】你若是赴御宴瓊林罷,媒人每攔住馬,高挑起染渲佳人丹青畫,賣弄他生長在王侯宰相家。你戀著那奢華,你敢新婚燕爾在他門下?

(正末云)小生此行,一舉及第,怎敢忘了小姐!

(魂旦云)你若得登第呵,(唱)

【綿搭絮】你做了貴門嬌客,一樣矜誇。那相府榮華,錦繡堆壓,你還想飛入尋常百姓家?那時節似魚躍龍門播海涯,飲御酒,插宮花,那其間佔鰲頭、佔鰲頭登上甲。

(正末云)小生倘不中呵,卻是怎生?

(魂旦云)你若不中呵,妾身荊釵裙布,願同甘苦。(唱)

【拙魯速】你若是似賈誼困在長沙,我敢似孟光般顯賢達。休想我半星兒意差,一分兒抹搭。我情願舉案齊眉傍書榻,任粗糲淡薄生涯,遮莫戴荊釵、穿布麻。

(正末云)小姐既如此真誠志意,就與小生同上京去,如何?

(魂旦云)秀才肯帶妾身去呵,(唱)

【麼篇】把稍公快喚咱,恐家中廝捉拿。只見遠樹寒鴉,岸草汀沙,滿目黃花,幾縷殘霞。快先把云帆高掛,月明直下,便東風刮,莫消停,疾進發。

(正末云)小姐,則今日同我上京應舉去來。我若得了官,你便是夫人縣君也。

(魂旦唱)【收尾】各剌剌向長安道上把車兒駕,但願得文苑客當時奮發。則我這臨邛市沽酒卓文君,甘伏待你濯錦江題橋漢司馬。

(同下)

 
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