Entries tagged with “Beheading”.

After Bertrand’s last post about the opera List of Honest and Incorruptible Officials, I felt an instant urge to find other Bao Zheng stories. Interestingly enough, I repeatedly bumped into cases related to the same Chenzhou incident.

The following nice video is a short, 40 minutes long version of Beijing Opera Chisangzhen, performed by the artists of Shanghai Jingju Troupe in Tianchan Yifu Theatre. In this play, Bao Zheng is beheading the corrupt son of his own foster mother. This happens right before Bao departs for Chenzhou to distribute the relief grain to the starving citizens.

The most famous excerpt from this play appeared several times in this blog, performed by different artists. You can read the summary of the story in this post, dedicated solely to Judge Bao and his numerous cases.

《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town – Righteousness Above Filial Piety)

Click here to download the video.
Length: 0:40:23 File size: 175MB, 720×576 Extension: MKV

Bao Zheng: An Ping (安平)
Wu Miaozhen: Li Hong (宏)

A few very nice photos taken at this performance:

Oh and one more note: Bao Mian was beheaded with the tiger-shaped “manual guillotine”.

Have fun watching!

Xiong Mingxia


I took a very rare scheduled day off from work to rest and relax today.

And I started writing this post. Before I was done, I accidentally posted it without noticing, walked off and took a nap. When I woke up, Fern had already emailed me about it with explanations and links. So, not just a little bit amazed, I’ve decided to repost this with Fern’s input, seeing as it wasn’t done in the first place.

This very recent 2011-06-11 production of 《铁面无私清官谱》Tiemian Wusi Qingguan Pu (List of Incorrupt Officials) stars Tang Yuancai (唐元才) in the well-know and recurring role of Judge Bao, along with the bubbly and expressive actress Xiong Mingxia (熊明霞) as the emperor’s hot calendar girl Pang Fei. It was performed by the Shanghai Jingju Troupe at the Tianchan Yifu Theater.

I posted a concert video a couple of weeks ago with a superb Tang Yuancai here. Fern has several really nice posts relating to Xiong Mingxia here, and some of those posts are even about opera! (*kidding*)

Don't mess with Judge Bao

According to this reference, around the year 150, many educated men in China who applied themselves increasingly to independent learning, debates and new writing genres, also became widely known for their reformist stances and overtly political views. Such men were often labelled by their contemporaries as “pure officials” (qingguan), that is, officials usually associated with court ritual, education, and administration, and free of eunuch and empress-family links. The real-life Judge Bao came along in fact about 900 years later, but “due to his fame and the strength of his reputation, Bao’s name became synonymous with the idealised “honest and upright official” (qingguan 清官), and quickly became a popular subject of early vernacular drama and literature.” (ref) In many stories Bao is accompanied by his personal secretary, the righteous and incorruptible Gongsun Ce (公孙策), among others.

Here are Fern’s notes:

“The storyline of《清官册》Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)  I found  did not match the story we see in this video. It became clearer only when I found this same play on the site of Tianchan Yifu Theater (http://www.tianchan.com/ticket/487) with the same date, and from the description I figured out the following :

The story is titled 《铁面无私清官谱》 (which translates to “List of Honest and Incorruptible Officials” as well).

The story is set during the Northern Song dynasty, and there was a big drought in Chenzhou county. On imperial order, the emperor’s maternal uncle, Pang Yu, is sent to Chengzhou to distribute grain to the people. But he and the local official conspire to embezzle the provisions.

Having no other choice, many commoners arrive to Kaifeng, the capital at that time, and complain about the injustice. The emperor orders judge Bao Zheng to investigate and handle the case.

Imperial tutor Pang Ji and his daughter, imperial concubine Pang Fei borrow the imperial chariot to obstruct Bao Zheng on the way. Bao Zheng repeatedly asks them to move away, but Pang Fei refuses to let him pass.

Judge Bao gets angry and destroys the chariot. The Emperor wants to order the execution of Bao Zheng, but Zhao Defang, Emperor Taizu’s fourth son and senator Kou Zhun ask for leniency. Taizong finally pardons Bao and gives him the imperial sword, thus permitting him to act first and report later.

Bao Zheng travels to Chengzhou. Upon his arrival, he investigates the case in detail.

With the military aid of the brave Zhan Zhao, they manage to subdue Pang Yu, though Pang Ji and his henchmen try to hinder them.

Justice is done when Judge Bao orders the execution of Pang Yu and the corrupt officials.

Also in the cast: the old woman with a diamond on her forehead, no doubt to indicate she is noble deep down inside (she is great at around 21:00)

The treacherous official Pang Ji (booo!)

Sometimes good guys don't wear white

Xiong Mingxia, sporting a double scoop hairdo, exhibits what throat singing control is all about from 45:33 on. With this actress, to me, it’s a lot about singing technique. She also has a lot of intrigue in her eyes and is fun to watch.

Xiong Mingxia

(from Wikipedia) “ In most dramatisation of his stories, Judge Bao used a set of guillotines (Chinese: 鍘刀; pinyin: zhádāo; Literal: lever-knife), given to him by the emperor, to execute criminals (…)  The one decorated with a tiger’s head (Chinese: 虎頭鍘; pinyin: hǔtóuzhá; Literal: tiger-headed lever-knife) was used on government officials.”

beheading knives found by Fern

This explains the tiger and what happens to the bad guy at the end:

Off with his head!

Judge Bao’s command at 2:27:28 to execute the criminal is pretty easy to understand!

(update 2011-09-24) Fern sent me another email with the following info:

The official title of this play in question, staged by the Shanghai Jingju Troupe is “Tiemian Wusi Qingguan Pu”. It shares some characters from Qingguan Ce, like Zhao Defang and Kou Zhun, and also translates as “List of Honest and Incorrupt Officials”, but actually the story is based on a drama titled《打銮驾》”Da Luanjia” (Crashing the Imperial Chariot), which belonged to the repertoire of Wang Zhengbing (hualian) and Fei Sanjin (xiaosheng) around 1890. In Da Luanjia, the favorite concubine tries to protect her brother (who embezzled the relief grain) by blocking Judge Bao’s way three times with the royal vehicles. This story fits our play.

My sources: http://www.tianchan.com/info/263, http://www.hudong.com/wiki/, and Peking Opera Synopses in English.

Cast for this post’s video:
Judge Bao: Tang Yuancai (唐元才)
Concubine Pang: Xiong Mingxia (熊明霞)
Kou Zhun: Qi Baoyu (齐宝玉)
Zhao Defang: Xu Jianzhong (徐建忠)
Zhan Zhao: Lan Tian (蓝天)
Mrs. Liu: Hu Xuan (胡璇)
Pang Ji: Dong Hongsong (董洪松)
Pang Yu: Yang Donghu (杨东虎)
Zhao Zhen (Emperor Renzong): Li Chun (李春)
Zhao Bin, minister of war: Yu Wei (虞伟)
Wang Yanling: Guo Yi (郭毅)
Chengzhou prefectural magistrate Zang Daodi: Luo Jiakang (罗家康)
Ren Hu and Ren Biao (the two guys sent to assassinate Bao at the relay station): Liang Guohui (梁国辉); Wang Yuhao (王钰皓)

I made a group image of characters as they are in the cast list” (below)

Qingguan cast

The video, although overall a bit compressed, is of very nice quality picture and sound and the opera is 2 1/2 hours long. File size is 795 MB and format is .mkv

Click here to download the video

Some additional photos of this performance, taken with a Konica Minolta digital camera (the label on all the JPG images), borrowed from http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_61c0e26401017hum.html and  http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_61c0e26401017huz.html

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)

Qingguan Ce (List of Incorrupt Officials)