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Thrice Drunk at Yueyang
Standard tuning, "shangjiao mode"2 ( 5 6 1 2 3 5 6 )
Yueyang San Zui
|Lü Dongbin Crossing Dongting Lake 3|
Yueyang, a city in Hunan province, is noted for its Yueyang Lou: Yueyang Tower.5 Accompanying Yueyang Tower are two pavilions, one of which is called San Zui Ting: Thrice Drunk Pavilion.6 The three buildings and their grounds actually form what is now a park on the eastern shore of Dongting Lake just where the Xiang River leaves it to join the Yangzi River. Yueyang Tower (also called Yueyang Pavilion) is said to date back to the third century CE, though it has subsequently been rebuilt several times. The Thrice Drunk Pavilion is said to have gotten its name because it was said that the famous 8th century scholar/poet Lü Dongbin, who eventually became known as one of the Eight Immortals, flew over Dongting Lake three times and thrice got drunk by Yueyang Tower.7
Yueyang Lou is well known for the noted poets and other literati who were inspired to write about it after visiting. A number of these connect Yueyang Lou with drinking. This includes those concerning Lü Dongbin, as just related. Perhaps better known, though, are the stories of poets such as Li Bai meeting friends there to drink and create poetry.8
The famous Yuan dramatist Ma Zhiyuan (1260-1325) created a zaju (Yuan drama) called Lü Dongbin Gets Drunk Three Times in Yueyang Tower. In the drama Yueyang Lou serves also as first a tavern then a teashop. Lü himself visits there and at the end the entire group of Eight Immortals appears.9.
The version of the qin melody in the recording by Le Ying, made during Zha Fuxi's research project of the 1950s, was apparently based on the seventh surviving pu, dated 1864, which seems in turn largely to have been a copy of the third pu (1744).
None in 1634
I have not yet reconstructed this melody.
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)
References to Yueyang San Zui 岳陽三醉
8195.42 has only 岳陽 Yueyang, a city in Hunan; 三醉 San zui 10.xxx.
As far as I can tell, the only handbook that comments on the significance of Yueyang or of being drunk three times is the last one, dated 1946. It says "昔人假託呂仙有三醉岳陽飛渡洞庭（湖）之句 People formerly concocted a story that Lü the Immortal (Lü Dongbin) three times when at Yueyang got drunk and flew over Dongting Lake". This story is present in the Yuan drama by Ma Zhiyuan outlined below, but it is not clear from where Ma got the idea for the story.
Shangjiao mode (商角調 Shangjiao diao)
For more on this mode see Shenpin Shangjiao Yi as well as Modality in Early Ming Qin Tablature.
|3. Image: The Daoist immortal Lü Dongbin crossing Lake Dongting||See mid-right of full image|
The image at right is cropped from a
larger scene called The Immortal Lü Dongbin Appearing over the Yueyang Tower. The
full painting, also on a fan, shows Lu in the clouds by the tower at Yueyang, also known as the Thrice Drunk Pavilion. The original is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Tracing Yueyang San Zui
Zha Guide 33/254/-- lists tablature (pu) as surviving in 11 handbooks from 1634 through 1946 but, as seen in the outline below, one of the 11 handbooks was not re-published in QQJC, and two more are not in the handbooks listed by Zha. All have 20 sections and all begin with harmonics. The eleven listed are as follows:
Yueyang Tower (岳陽樓 Yueyang Lou)
Wikipedia. There are poems in Yang Gang, 2001, pp.727-732
Thrice Drunk Pavilion (三醉亭 San Zui Ting)
Some sources seem to consider this as the name for the main pavilion. There are poems in Yang Gang, 2001, pp.732-3, that specifically use this name.
呂洞賓 Lü Dongbin and Yueyang
Stories about Lü often take place during the Tang dynasty, but apparently he cannot be found in actual Tang dynasty historical records, so he may be a Song dynasty creation. There are quite likely further stories connecting him to Yueyang, in addition to those related in the stories and images shown here, but they are currently beyond the scope of this page.
Literary references to being drunk in Yueyang
Relevant poems include:
朝游百粵暮蒼梧，袖里青蛇膽氣粗。 （百粵 is sometimes 百越 [same meaning] or 北海 [north seas])
三醉岳陽人不識，朗吟飛過洞庭湖。 （三醉 is sometimes 三入 [thrice entering])
In the drama below a version of this text is inscribed on Lü Dongbin's sword.
There are various further references to Yueyang and wine that might color our understanding of the background to this melody, but my own understanding of this is still very much incomplete. (See also the mention of drama below.)
What is perhaps the most famous literary piece about Yueyang Lou, 范仲淹岳陽樓記 Memorial to Yueyang Tower by
Fan Zhongyan, does not mention wine (online translation).
|9. 岳陽樓 Yueyang Lou by 馬致遠 Ma Zhiyuan (original text)||Cropped image from the playscript|
The play by Ma Zhiyuan has four acts plus an interlude:
Lü accosts Guo in the street, gives him his sword and tells him to kill his wife and follow him out of this world. Lü mentions going to get drunk a third time at Yueyang Lou, then leaves. Guo tells himself he will use the sword to cut vegetables.
The character "琴 qin" occurs three times in the play, none in a significant way:
Two other plays by Ma Zhiyuan are mentioned on this site: Yellow Millet Dream (here) and Han Gong Qiu.
Another version of the present story is the play by 谷字敬 Gu Zijing (ca. 1368-1391) called 呂洞賓三渡城南柳 Lü Dongbin San Du Chengnan Liu.
None with the present version.
I have not yet reconstructed this melody.
Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.