Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Caijiazhuang (tsi-geeah-JWANG). Rural village in eastern China that is the home to the young scholar Bojie, who enjoys reading books in the garden surrounded by rivers, winding paths, and peach and pear trees spreading in the sky. Wonderful flowers, herbs, and chirping birds create scenes of rich pastoral abundance. At the end of the opera, Zhao Wuniang’s plight moves the heart of the prime minister’s daughter, and she, Zhao Wuniang, and Bojie settle down as a family in Caijiazhuang, where they pay respect to their ancestors.


Luoyang (Loo-YAHNG). Capital of China under the Han Dynasty where Bojie reluctantly goes to take a competitive examination. On his way to the city, he meets three other examination candidates with whom he forms a partnership. Along their way, they discuss scholastic matters, drink wine, and recite poetry. The capital city is filled with magnificent towers and terraces, rows of willow trees, ornamental bridges, beaded curtains, and embroidered screens in the aristocratic homes. When he goes to meet the prime minister, Bojie is impressed with the opulence of his court. Bojie plays a lute in Luoyang to express his homesickness and yearning for the wife and parents he has left behind. Under orders of the emperor, he marries the prime minister’s daughter and cannot leave the capital city.

Apricot Garden

Apricot Garden. Garden in Luoyang to which Bojie is invited to attend a lavish feast after he earns the highest score on the Confucian examinations. The Apricot Garden is a scenic paradise with yellow flags flapping in the breeze, bunches of flowers and brocades hanging everywhere, and fragrant apricot blossoms. Bojie enjoys a celebratory feast on tables inlaid with coral and turtle shells but greatly misses his wife back in his home village.

The Lute Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Birch, Cyril. “Some Concerns and Methods of the Ming Ch’uan-ch’i Drama.” In Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, edited by Cyril Birch. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. A background essay on the Southern drama of the Ming dynasty.

Birch, Cyril. “Tragedy and Melodrama in Early Ch’uan-ch’i Plays: Lute Song and Thorn Hairpin Compared.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 36 (1973): 228-247. An investigation of the genre.

Crump, James I. Chinese Theater in the Days of Kublai Khan. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1980. Describes the social milieu and the conditions and methods of theatrical performances. Presents three plays of the Yüan period in English translations of unusual quality.

Crump, James I. “Elements of Yüan Opera.” Journal of Asian Studies 17 (1958): 417-434. Meticulous analysis and statistics regarding the form and content of tsa-chü, or northern style drama, of the Yüan period.

Dolby, William. History of Chinese Drama. London: Paul Elek, 1976. A full survey of the history of Chinese drama, which includes an English translation of The Lute’s scene xxxvii.

Mulligan, Jean, trans. The Lute: Kao Ming’s P’i-p’a chi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. An outstanding English translation. All the speeches, songs, and stage directions are fully translated. Also, speeches which in the Chinese text are in parallel prose or poetic meter are identified.