Item ID: 9445 Ping sheng guan xiu xiao pu 瓶笙館修簫譜 [Bamboo-Flute Scores from the House of the Teapot Whistle]. Wei 舒位 SHU.
Ping sheng guan xiu xiao pu 瓶笙館修簫譜 [Bamboo-Flute Scores from the House of the Teapot Whistle]

Four Variety Plays from the House of the Teapot Whistle

Ping sheng guan xiu xiao pu 瓶笙館修簫譜 [Bamboo-Flute Scores from the House of the Teapot Whistle]

Four full-page woodcuts. 51 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers, new stitching. Hangzhou: Wang shi Zhenqi Tang 汪氏振綺堂, 1833.

A collection of four “variety plays” (zaju 雜劇), each in one act, featuring arias in both Northern and Southern traditions. The plays retell famous stories in which women often play prominent roles. The first play, “The Daughter of the Zhuo Family Sells Wine” 桌女當壚, tells a legend about the Han dynasty poet Zhuo Wenjun 桌文君 eloping with Sima Xiangru 司馬相如 (179-117 BCE), also a writer, and then opening an inn to make a living. In the second play, “Fan Ji Clasps Jer Hair Bun” 樊姬擁髻, the official Ling Yuan 伶元 and his concubine Fan Ji spend a night talking about events relating to Han empress Zhao Feiyan 趙飛燕 (d. 1 BCE). In the third play, “Mending the Moon, a Story from Youyang” 酉陽修月, the moon goddess Chang E 嫦娥 orders a man named Wu Gang 吳剛 to mend the moon. The final play, “The Marquis of Bowang Visits the Stars” 博望訪星, recounts how the eponymous protagonist is ordered to find the origin of the Yellow River and encounters the two stars Cowherd 牽牛 (Altair) and the Weaving Maid 織女 (Vega).

The plays’ author, Shu Wei (1765-1815), a provincial civil servant from Beijing, also excelled in writing poetry and prose as well as calligraphy.

A full-page woodcut of a scene precedes the text of each play. One of the illustrations is signed by Fei Danxu (1801-50), best known for his paintings of beautiful women.

The four plays were assembled by the publisher, Mr. Wang, the patron of Zhenqi Tang, the “Hall of Rescuing Beautiful Threads.” The Wang clan was originally from Anhui, a commercial center. A branch of the clan established itself in Hangzhou. In the mid-18th century, Wang Xian 汪憲 (1721-71) began collecting and publishing books using the name Zhenqi Tang. His descendants continued this endeavor. The publisher of Shu Wei’s four plays was Wang Xian’s grandson, Wang Yuansun 汪遠孫 (1793-1836), who authored several works of philology and belles lettres. The family had a tradition of collecting books by transcribing them. It is likely that Wang Yuansun transcribed plays that circulated in manuscript form and brought them to print for the first time.

Fine copy, preserved in a hantao.


Qi Senhua 齐森华 et al., eds. Zhongguo quxue da cidian 中国曲学大辞典. Hangzhou: Zhejiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 1997.

Wei Xinhe 魏新河, ed. Cixue tulu 词学图录. Vol. 5. Hefei: Huangshan shushe, 2011.

Wu Xinlei 吴新雷 et al., eds. Zhongguo kunqu da cidian 中国昆剧大辞典. Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 2002.

Xu Xuelin 徐学林 ed. Huizhou keshu shi changbian 徽州刻书史长编. Vol. 7. Hefei: Anhui jiaoyu chubanshe, 2014.

Price: $3,950.00

Item ID: 9445