The West Chamber is one of the most famous ancient Chinese stage plays written by Wang Shifu, an influential dramatist in the 13th to 14th centuries.
It tells the story of young lovers who pursue a forbidden love.
The West Chamber inherited the refined language of Tang and Song poems and absorbed the lively spoken folk language of that time.
Lei Jiande, a scholar who has studied this classic work for over 40 years, opened an online gallery to introduce this masterpiece to readers around the world.
Lei Jiande and the West Chamber
As one of the four most renowned dramas in ancient China, the West Chamber has remained popular for over 700 years.
The story is set at the Pujiu Temple or the "Universal Salvation Temple" in Puzhou, a part of the city of Yongji in Shanxi province.
Lei was born close to the temple, and he began to show interest in the West Chamber as a child. He devoted 40 years to enthusiastically studying and promoting the story.
Lei Jiande visited the United States, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and Fiji to conduct research about the western evaluation of the West Chamber.
The classic work was praised by the Encyclopedia Americana, which says the drama was incredibly, beautifully written and is one of the most famous Yuan poems from the 13th century.
La Grande Encyclopédie said that the West Chamber is a masterpiece and the longest romantic Yuan poem. It is a love story that reflects the joys and sorrows of the couple that makes it an extremely enjoyable read.
Inspired by the concept of Internet Plus, Lei Jiande, former head of the Shanxi branch of the State Grid Newspaper and a scholar of the West Chamber, started to promote this great literary work through establishing an online gallery.
The online gallery of the West Chamber has been widely promoted by major Chinese search engine websites. It also opened a WeChat social media official account to introduce the online gallery.
The West Chamber is about a young scholar and the daughter of a minister, who fell in love without parental approval. Written by Wang Shifu, a playwright of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it is recognized as a plea for freedom of marriage in a time when marriages were always arranged.
Like A Dream of Red Mansions and Outlaws of the Marsh, it is internationally recognized as a masterpiece.
The drama follows the popular Chinese story structure of a secret meeting of a gifted scholar with a beautiful girl in a back garden, plus trials and tribulations, and finally a happy union.
Scholar Zhang and Cui Yingying, the minister's daughter, fell in love with each other when they met and exchanged verses in a garden. When Cui's family ran into trouble, Zhang bravely came to the rescue. But later Cui's mother broke her promise to give her daughter to Zhang in marriage. The warm-hearted maid Hong Niang, or Red Girl, made an ingenious plan that eventually brought the couple together.