Ancient Chinese Miscellaneous Drama

The first drama of China was sprouted in Zhou Dynasty, which mostly appeared in sacrificial rites. Until Song Dynasty, the miniature of drama started to form. Miscellaneous drama was the representative. Miscellaneous drama is also called miscellaneous play, which combines multiple performances such as song and dance, music, tease, acrobatic and so on. For example, " The Legend of Moginlin" , a representative of miscellaneous drama, includes many acrobatics.

From the vivid carving bricks of miscellaneous drama, we can imagine the liveliness and glary of miscellaneous drama of Song Dynasty at that time. According to historical documents, though miscellaneous drama of Song Dynasty is mingled with a majority of performance of making impromptu comic gestures and remarks, it still could play the role of attacking and satirizing court affairs. In a dinner show held by Qin Hui, prime minister of Song Dynasty, The even lost no opportunity to satirize the awesome prime minister at that time.


Though miscellaneous drama is called a drama, but performance place - Gou Lan but it is not the real drama. It is just the rudiment of drama. The birth of miscellaneous drama had great relation with performance place - Gou Lan of Song Dynasty. In Northern Song Dynasty of China, the society was relatively stable and the economy developed rapidly. From the picture of "Along the River during the Qingming Festival" drawn by Zhang Zeduan, the painter of Northern Song Dynasty, we can see the flourishing scene of capital Bianliang. The rapid development of economy made all kinds of cultural events and entertainment become very plentiful, and performance places also sprang up like the mushroom. The performance placed in Song Dynasty was always set up with rail fence in the vacant lot nearby the markets, then build a stage. The shape of the stage looked like temple of Song Dynasty. The scale of Gou Lan was flexible. Large ones can accommodate about a thousand people, while small ones only dozens of people.

After miscellaneous drama was born in Song Dynasty, it was widely loved by all walks of life. No matter on holiday or usual days, enjoying miscellaneous drama was an indispensable recreational activity for people. Chinese ancients viewed death as life. They hoped they could still enjoy the happiness they had after they died. When people died with ardent love for miscellaneous, the carving bricks of miscellaneous drama would become the most widespread grave decorating. They appeared in the tombs of people of Song and accompanied with these drama fans forever.

The earliest formatting of Chinese carving brick can be traced to the eaves tile and air brick of Eastern Zhou period   and the portrait brick of Han Dynasty. Carving bricks were decorated on wall of coffin chambers in tomb chamber. In the tomb chambers of Northern Song Dynasty unearthed in Henan, Shanxi, Gansu and other places, three sides of walls were generally laid with carving bricks.

To produce carving brick of miscellaneous drama, in general, the flashed brick should be drawn with characters of miscellaneous drama first, and then it should be carved carefully. Skill of carving mainly includes intaglio, bass-relief, high relief, chasing and so on. Finished carving bricks were usually decorated on the tomb wall opposite to shrine of the tomb owner for owner to watch. Quantity, quality and details of carving bricks of tomb chamber were determined by social class and hobbies of the owner of the tomb. Because miscellaneous drama was very popular in Song Dynasty, it became entertainment and hobby of many people, carving bricks of miscellaneous drama became common theme.

These carving bricks are fine and delicate with the right body proportion and vivid posture. Not only can they reappear the scene of life of the tomb owners, but also reflect the virtuosity of carving of Song Dynasty.

Carving bricks of miscellaneous drama of Song Dynasty right reflect the prosperity of folk culture of Song Dynasty. The art mixed with music, dance, acrobatics and other forms was formed in folk and popular in folk, forming rich and varied Chinese drama in folk.

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