Item ID: 10008 [Arias for the Eight-Corner Drum & Three-Stringed Lute from the Office of Tranquility and Peace]. SHENG PING SHU CHA QU 昇平署岔曲.

Songs from the Imperial Palace

[Arias for the Eight-Corner Drum & Three-Stringed Lute from the Office of Tranquility and Peace].

35 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. stitching. Beijing: Guo li Beiping gu gong bo wu yuan wen xian guan 國立北平故宮博物院文獻館, 1935.

First edition of this collection of songs from the chaqu troupes of the Qing imperial palace. The Office of Tranquility and Peace was the Qing court’s theatrical office, managed as part of the imperial household department. Its staff was responsible for providing entertainment for the emperor and his guests. The so-called chaqu were songs that originated among the Beijing bannermen. The Preface, as playwright and scholar Qi Rushan 齊如山 (1875-1962) notes were performed with “only the eight-cornered drum and the three-stringed lute.” This drum is a small handheld drum that the singer beats with his hand, while the three-stringed lute, or sanxian, is a fretless instrument plucked using a plectrum. This kind of song rose to popularity in the mid- to late 18th century, but the popularity later waned. Qi notes that in the second half of the 19th century, there were still seven or eight professional troupes in the capital, but by the 1930s, only a dozen or so singers were still able to perform in this style. In a reflection of its loss in popularity, few scripts remained. Our book reprints those that were still held at the palace, by this time transformed into a museum.

Nice copy and rare, with only one copy recorded in North America in WorldCat.

Price: $250.00

Item ID: 10008