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Art Illustrating Guqin Melodies   /   18 Blasts of the Nomad Flute 首頁
Illustrations for 18 Songs of a Nomad Flute 1
18 scenes to accompany Da Hujia (Nomad Reed Pipe, Long Version), copied by Bai Yunli 2
胡笳十八拍圖
白雲立

Just as there have been a number of qin melodies on the present theme, there have also been various fine art depictions. The earliest version of the present scroll dates from the Song dynasty. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has what might be the Song original, but it consists of only several leaves. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a complete scroll copied in the Ming dynasty. Several other museums also have copies. Each of the 18 scenes corresponds, in order, to a verse of the 18 verse poem written ca. 770 CE by Liu Shang telling the story of the abduction of Cai Wenji by Central Asian nomads at the end of the Han dynasty.3 The titles that accompany each illustration here are the titles of the qin melody Da Hujia. Because each title is also a line from the corresponding verse of the poem, the poem, the painting and the melody (as on my recording: see timings) match perfectly.

View Illustration 1 (also 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 )

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Hujia Shibapai: "18 Songs" or "18 Blasts of the Nomad Reed Pipe"
The scroll shown here is a hand copy made from an original in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, as published by them in Robert A. Rorex and Wen Fong, Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, The Story of Lady Wen-Chi (New York, 1974). The book says that the Museum's copy was probably made in the 14th century from an original that had been done by painters in the court of Song emperor Gaozong (r. 1127 - 1163). At one time it was possible to view the Metropolitan scroll online, together with a translation by Wilt Idema and Beata Grant (as Eighteen Stanzas for the Barbarian Reed Pipe) of the accompanying poem by 劉商 Liu Shang. The Chinese title of the scroll is 胡笳十八拍 Hujia Shiba Pai.

Although the details of the scroll fit better with the melody called Da Hujia, the title of the scroll, Hujia Shibapai, is most commonly associated with a related Qing dynasty qin melody of that title. As for the "pai" of "Hujia Shiba Pai", it generally means "rhythm" or "beats". For the scroll it is translated as "songs" because there are 18 verses or songs accompanying the scroll. For the melody it is here translated "blasts", suggesting the music of the "nomad flute" (hujia, which might also be translated as "barbarian reed pipe").
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2. Copying the Hujia scroll
白雲立 Bai Yunli lives in Hangzhou. His version of the scroll was based largely on the Metropolitan Museum of New York scroll mentioed in the previous footnote.
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3. The poem 胡笳十八拍 Hujia Shibapai by 劉商 Liu Shang
The complete original text of this poem (translation of each verse is with the related picture) is as follows (compare the poem attributed to Cai Wenji herself):

  1. 第一拍
    漢室將衰兮四夷不賓,動干戈兮征戰頻。
    哀哀父母生育我,見離亂兮當此辰。
    紗窗對鏡未經事,將謂珠簾能蔽身。
    一朝胡騎入中國,蒼黃處處逢胡人。
    忽將薄命委鋒鏑,可惜紅顏隨虜塵。

  2. 第二拍
    馬上將余向絕域,厭生求死死不得。
    戎羯腥膻豈是人,豺狼喜怒難姑息。
    行盡天山足霜霰,風土蕭條近胡國。
    萬里重陰鳥不飛,寒沙莽莽無南北。

  3. >第三拍
    如羈囚兮在縲絏,憂慮萬端無處說。
    使余刀兮剪餘發,食餘肉兮飲餘血。
    誠知殺身願如此,以余為妻不如死。
    早被蛾眉累此身,空悲弱質柔如水。

  4. 第四拍
    山川路長誰記得,何處天涯是鄉國。
    自從驚怖少精神,不覺風霜損顏色。
    夜中歸夢來又去,朦朧豈解傳消息。
    漫漫胡天叫不聞,明明漢月應相識。

  5. 第五拍
    水頭宿兮草頭坐,風吹漢地衣裳破。
    羊脂沐發長不梳,羔子皮裘領仍左。
    狐襟貉袖腥複膻,晝披行兮夜披臥。
    氈帳時移無定居,日月長兮不可過。

  6. 第六拍
    怪得春光不來久,胡中風土無花柳。
    天翻地覆誰得知,如今正南看北斗。
    姓名音信兩不通,終日經年常閉口。
    是非取與在指撝,言語傳情不如手。

  7. 第七拍
    男兒婦人帶弓箭,塞馬蕃羊臥霜霰。
    寸步東西豈自由,偷生乞死非情願。
    龜茲觱篥愁中聽,碎葉琵琶夜深怨。
    竟夕無雲月上天,故鄉應得重相見。

  8. 第八拍
    憶昔私家恣嬌小,遠取珍禽學馴擾。
    如今淪棄念故鄉,悔不當初放林表。
    朔風蕭蕭寒日暮,星河寥落胡天曉。
    旦夕思歸不得歸,愁心想似籠中鳥。

  9. 第九拍
    當日蘇武單于問,道是賓鴻解傳信。
    學他刺血寫得書,書上千重萬重恨。
    髯胡少年能走馬,彎弓射飛無遠近。
    遂令邊雁轉怕人,絕域何由達方寸。

  10. 第十拍
    恨淩辱兮惡腥膻,憎胡地兮怨胡天。
    生得胡兒欲棄捐,及生母子情宛然。
    貌殊語異憎還愛,心中不覺常相牽。
    朝朝暮暮在眼前,腹生手養甯不憐。

  11. 第十一拍
    日來月往相催遷,迢迢星歲欲周天。
    無冬無夏臥霜霰,水凍草枯為一年。
    漢家甲子有正朔,絕域三光空自懸。
    幾回鴻雁來又去,腸斷蟾蜍虧複圓。

  12. 第十二拍
    破瓶落井空永沈,故鄉望斷無歸心。
    寧知遠使問姓名,漢語泠泠傳好音。
    夢魂幾度到鄉國,覺後翻成哀怨深。
    如今果是夢中事,喜過悲來情不任。

  13. 第十三拍
    童稚牽衣雙在側,將來不可留又憶。
    還鄉惜別兩難分,甯棄胡兒歸舊國。
    山川萬里複邊戍,背面無由得消息。
    淚痕滿面對殘陽,終日依依向南北。

  14. 第十四拍
    莫以胡兒可羞恥,恩情亦各言其子。
    手中十指有長短,截之痛惜皆相似。
    還鄉豈不見親族,念此飄零隔生死。
    南風萬里吹我心,心亦隨風度遼水。

  15. 第十五拍
    歎息襟懷無定分,當時怨來歸又恨。
    不知愁怨情若何,似有鋒鋩擾方寸。
    悲歡並行情未快,心意相尤自相問。
    不緣生得天屬親,豈向仇讎結恩信。

  16. 第十六拍
    去時只覺天蒼蒼,歸日始知胡地長。
    重陰白日落何處,秋雁所向應南方。
    平沙四顧自迷惑,遠近悠悠隨雁行。
    征途未盡馬蹄盡,不見行人邊草黃。

  17. 第十七拍
    行盡胡天千萬裏,唯見黃沙白雲起。
    馬饑跑雪銜草根,人渴敲冰飲流水。
    燕山仿佛辨烽戍,鼙鼓如聞漢家壘。
    努力前程是帝鄉,生前免向胡中死。

  18. 第十八拍
    歸來故鄉見親族,田園半蕪春草綠。
    明燭重燃煨燼灰,寒泉更洗沈泥玉。
    載持巾櫛禮儀好,一弄絲桐生死足。
    出入關山十二年,哀情盡在胡笳曲。
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