An Illustration of the Promotion of Official Ranks
Item No. : T27-336
This book with a title about the promotion in official rank is actually an example of vernacular drama and the master copy for a play. A glance at the title might lead you to think it has something to do with officialdom, but it’s actually just a ruse…the contents are none other than the erotic novel The Plum in a Golden Vase. The plot continues from the previous book, Stratagem for Raising the Screen, describing the first rendezvous between the lovers Ximen Qing and Pan Jinlian. It is then followed by the book Grape Trellis, which is a flat-out erotic description. The Chinese songs in the book almost always have an official title to give the erotic contents an appearance of respectability, with many of them also a play on words. Though all the Manchu official titles have transliterations in Chinese to the side, readers who could not understand Manchu would still have been unable to grasp the erotic allusions. This type of libretto might very well have been for the amusement of junior elite among the Manchu, perhaps made by a young upperclass male in the Eight Banners during the 18th century and circulating in the Beijing, Tianjian, and northeastern areas. The contents mostly derive from stories in novels and plays of the Ming and Qing dynasties.