Entries tagged with “Judge Bao”.

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)


《赤桑镇》Chisangzhen (Red Mulberry Town)

After Bao Zheng lost both of his parents, he was raised up by his elder sister-in-law, Wu Miaozhen, who treated him like his own a son; also Bao considered Mrs. Wu as his mother. Wu Miaozhen’s husband died early, leaving behind an only son, Bao Mian.

Bao Mian worked as a county magistrate in Xiaoshan, but was dismissed from office for taking bribes. Bao Zheng didn’t want to hurt his foster mother, and concealed the truth about the incident.

One day, Wu Miaozhen hears that Bao Zheng is sent to Chenzhou to distribute relief grain. She arranges a farewell dinner, hoping that Bao Zheng and Bao Mian will have an opportunity to chit-chat a little. She’s sitting at home alone when a letter arrives with Bao Zheng’s own handwriting, informing her that his only son was beheaded on charges of corruption, also telling the truth about the former Xiaoshan incident. What exactly happened at the farewell dinner is revealed in another play (Beheading Bao Mian).

Wu Miaozhen immediately rushes to Chisangzhen, accusing Bao Zheng with ungratefulness. She’s unable to restrain her anger and starts to beat Bao with her walking stick. A very submissive Judge Bao deeply apologizes and pays respect to his mother, but explains that righteousness comes above family loyalty.

Mrs. Wu finally realizes that Bao Zheng’s decision was just, and after all she was the one who taught him to be righteous. The two get reconciled, and Bao finally departs for Chenzhou.

《铡包勉》Zha Bao Mian (Beheading Bao Mian)

Bao Zheng is sent to Chengzhou to distribute relief grain. There’s a farewell dinner before he leaves. Wang Yanling, minister of war Zhao Bin and Bao’s nephew, Bao Mian are also present.

Bao Mian secretly reports to Zhao Bin that a county magistrate accepted the offered bribe. Zhao Bin deliberately announces this in front of everybody. As intended, Bao Zheng is sentencing his nephew to death by beheading.

Bao Mian offers gold to Zhao Bin if he’s willing to speak for him. Zhao does so, but Bao Zheng is unrelenting. Bao Mian is asking for the help of Wang Yanling then. Following Wang’s advice, Bao Mian falls on his knees and pleads for his life. This works on Bao Zheng.

After the incident, Zhao Bin asks for the promised gold, but Bao Mian refuses to give it to him. Zhao Bin at once makes a cold remark, ridiculing Bao Zheng.
Judge Bao gets angry and beheads Bao Mian on the spot, also he publicly reprimands Zhao Bin. Afterwards, he’s sending a letter to Bao Mian’s mother, Wu Miaozhen, explaining what happened.

《打銮驾》Da Luanjia (Crashing the Imperial Chariot) a.k.a.
《铁面无私清官谱》Tiemian Wusi Qingguan Pu (Register of Honest and Incorruptible Officials)

Finally what happened in Chenzhou? You can read the story here.

《断太后》Duan Taihou (Judging the Empress) a.k.a.
《遇皇后》Yu Huanghou (Meeting the Empress)

After distributing the relief grain in Chenzhou, Bao Zheng is on his way back  to the capital. Upon reaching the Zhaozhou Bridge, he lodges in the Tianqi Temple for the night. There he meets a poor, blind woman who came to complain. It turns out that she’s Empress Li, the birth mother of Emperor Renzong, but escaped the palace and lives in desperate poverty after she was framed by Empress Liu. Liu, with the help of an eunuch, Guo Huai, exchanged Li’s newborn son with a skinned palm civet, accusing her with giving birth to a monster.

Empress Li is suspicious, and touches Bao Zheng’s head and attire to make sure he isn’t a swindler. Bao is also asking the woman what evidence she has. Empress Li is handing over a piece of yellow silk to Bao Zheng. A secret message about the circumstances of the injustice is written on it. It’s definitely the handwriting of senator Kou Zhun, thus Bao knows the proof is authentic and immediately kowtows before Empress Li.

They return to the capital together and enter the palace to meet with Emperor Renzong. The story continues with Beating the Emperor’s Robe.

《打龙袍》Da Longpao (Beating the Emperor’s Robe)

Empress Li and Bao Zheng return to the capital. Bao Zheng eventually calls Emperor Renzong unfilial at the Lantern Festival. Renzong gets furious and orders the execution of Bao.

Wang Yanling is asking for pardon, and requests the old palace eunuch, Chen Lin to expose the truth about the civet cat fraud and Empress Liu’s treachery. Now that he knows the facts about his real mother, the Emperor immediately pardons Bao Zheng, orders the beheading of Guo Huai and begs the forgiveness of Empress Li.

Empress Li asks Bao Zheng to figure out the proper punishment. Bao takes off Renzong’s dragon robe, and instead the Emperor himself, his imperial robe is beaten.

《黑驴告状》Hei Lü Gaozhuang (Black Donkey Filing Lawsuit)
a.k.a.《阴阳错》Yinyang Cuo (Yin-yang Confusion)

The wife of Fan Zhongyu, Bai Gui E (sometimes Bai Yulian) is commiting suicide after Ge Dengyun is killing his husband. Their bier is set up in a Daoist temple.

Zhai Shen (sometimes Qu Shen) from Shanxi is on his way to the capital to collect a debt. Halfway he sees the abandoned black donkey at the Fan house, and takes the animal with him. He’s lodging for the night in the house of Li Bao and his wife. The Lis see Zhai’s money, and Li Bao is strangling him for his property.

The black donkey goes to Bao Zheng’s residence to complain. Bao travels to the netherworld to explore the situation.
By mistake, Zhai Shen and Lady Bai reincarnated in each other’s body, male and female are reversed. Bao Zheng is using the magical “yinyang” mirror to separate their souls and sort out the case. Each soul returns to the correct body.

Finally justice is done with the beheading of Ge Dengyun and Li Bao. The Fan couple has a reunion.

《秦香莲》 Qin Xianglian a.k.a.
《铡美案》 Zha Mei An (Beheading Chen Shimei)

An ambitious scholar, Chen Shimei is going to the capital to take the imperial examinations. He scores as number one scholar, also makes a tremendous career advancement when he marries into the imperial family and becomes the consort of the Emperor’s daughter. However, he forgets to mention that he already has a wife and two children who he left behind in a distant village.

Meanwhile Chen’s old parents die of starvation, and Qin Xianglian finally comes to Kaifeng with the two kids, to get news about Chen Shimei.
At the capital, Chen claims he doesn’t even know them, what’s more, he orders his bodyguard to kill his wife and both children. However, moved by Qin Xianglian’s sad story, Han Qi is unable to slaughter a woman and two children, and kills himself instead.

Chen Shimei meets his fate when Qin Xianglian’s case is investigated by Bao Zheng. Bao makes arrangements to confront Chen and her wife, but Chen Shimei refuses to admit his fault. In the court, Bao sentences him to death by decapitation, even though the Empress dowager and the princess protest against the verdict.

Sources: Jiangnan University School of Foreign Language, Wikipedia, related articles of Hudong Wiki.