Authors: Gao Ming

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Chinese playwright

Author Works


Pipa ji, wr. 1358, pr., pb. c. 1367 (The Lute, 1980)


Gao Ming (gow mihng), or Kao Ming, is generally accepted as the author of The Lute, one of the first plays written in a genre in southern drama called chuangqi. Zecheng (Tse-ch’eng) is his zi, or derived name. Gao was a native of Wenzhou in Zhejiang. He passed his jinshi examinations in 1345 and held minor government posts, first in his native province and later in Fujian.{$I[AN]9810000534}{$I[A]Gao Ming}{$S[A]Zecheng;Gao Ming}{$S[A]Tse-ch’eng[Tse cheng];Gao Ming}{$S[A]Kao Tse-ch’eng[Kao Tse cheng];Gao Ming}{$S[A]Kao Ming;Gao Ming}{$I[geo]CHINA;Gao Ming}{$I[tim]1303;Gao Ming}

With the start of the uprisings that were to overthrow the Yuan dynasty, he became slightly involved in political maneuvers. In 1355 he retired to the greater security of private life and took up residence in what is modern Ningbo.

It is said of Gao, as it is of many other writers who lived into the Ming dynasty, that he received an invitation to serve in the new government but declined the honor. In his retirement in Ningbo, Gao spent three years writing his version of The Lute. In earlier versions of the play by others the protagonist, Cai Baoxie, is usually condemned for his lack of loyalty and filial piety. Gao’s version, however, depicts Cai as a man who is caught in a moral dilemma while trying to obey the dictates both of his father and of the emperor.

BibliographyBirch, Cyril. “Some Concerns and Methods of the Ming Ch’uan-ch’i Drama.” In Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, edited by Cyril Birch. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. A background essay on the Southern drama of the Ming Dynasty.Birch, Cyril. “Tragedy and Melodrama in Early Ch’uan-ch’i Plays: Lute Song and Thorn Hairpin Compared.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 36 (1973): 228-247. An examination of the chuanqi plays.Dolby, William. A History of Chinese Drama. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1976.Johnson, Dale R. A Glossary of Words and Phrases in the Oral Performing and Dramatic Literatures of the Jin, Yuan, and Ming. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 2000. A glossary that explains some of the terms used in a discussion of Chinese drama during the Yuan period.Mair, Victor H., ed. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.Mulligan, Jean, trans. Introduction to The Lute: Kao Ming’s P’i-p’a chi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. In the introduction to her translation of the Chinese classic, Mulligan provides valuable information on the presentation of the work and of the times in which it was created.Nienhauser, William H., Jr., ed. and comp. The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.Shou-Yi, Chen. Chinese Literature; A Historical Introduction. New York: Ronald Press, 1961.Velingerová, Milena Doleželová. “Traditional Chinese Theories of Drama and the Novel.” Arizona Quarterly 59, no. 2 (1991).Wang, Chien P’ing. P’i p’a chi: The Story of the Lute. Pei-ching: Hsin Shih Chieh Chu Pan She, 1999. A parallel text edition of the famous classic featuring a new English translation and the text of the original.
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