Journal paper
篇名Re-ordering A Loyalist’s Death: Marginal Characters and Foreign Lands in The Rock with Shadows of Blood
作者姓名Liu Chiung-yun
AbstractThis paper explores the contending meanings of the Confucian value of loyalty in The Rock with Shadows of Blood (Xieying shi 血影石), a chuanqi play written in the seventeenth century by the popular Suzhou playwright Zhu Zuochao 朱佐朝(ca.1621-?). This play, featuring Huang Guan (1364-1402), a high official who commits suicide for the Jianwen Emperor (r.1398-1402) after the 1402 Usurpation, is often considered an inferior work among Zhu’s complete oeuvres because it fails to sustain the pathos of a loyalist’s death to the end. However, by analyzing how the playwright shifts focus from Huang Guan’s death to the rescue of his son with the collaboration of eunuchs, prostitutes and female barbarians, I argue that the “failure” is in fact an intricate design to counter the orthodox Confucian virtue of loyalty. Within the empire, the playwright entrusts the rescue mission to eunuchs and a knight-errantly prostitute, thus avoids direct confrontation with the Yongle Emperor, who takes over the throne of his nephew. Beyond the empire, by re-formulating his contemporary knowledge of the South China Sea trade route, the playwright re-makes the historical Lanna Kingdom, located in modern-day northern Thailand, into an “other” power center with allies such as the Ryūkyū Kingdom, Japan, Champa and Calicut in the southwestern coast of India to rival with the Ming Empire. The socially and geographically marginal forces together replace the scholar-officials to become the agents of moral actions. In place of loyalist martyrdom, The Rock with Shadows of Blood prizes the value of the living, featuring reciprocal justice, personal resourcefulness and final homecoming. Written not long after the Ming-Qing transition, this play shows an alternative way of reacting to historical upheaval and of restoring order, whereby the loyalist moral paradigm is negotiated, re-interpreted and subtly transformed.
KeywordXieying shi, Zhu Zuochao, Huang Guan, the Western Ocean, 1402 Usurpation
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