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The Jade Hairpin

"The Jade Hairpin" is a work of Ming dynasty playwright Gao Lian in the (1527-1609). It is a love story, with a happy ending, of Pan Bizheng, a young scholar, and Chen Miaochang, a Taoist nun.

Pan was a promising young man but suffered from an illness when he got himself ready for the official exam. He decided to take the exam anyway, just to find himself flunked. Ashamed of the failure, Pan did not go home. He went to stay with his aunt, the mother superior of a convent. There he came across Chen, a pretty, talented nun. Chen came of a good family but lost everything in a war. Having no place to go, she sought shelter in the convent and thus became a nun. Since she entered the religious life out of convenience, rather than devotion, she had little success in suppressing her worldly passions and desires. She still yearned for life and love in the world. Not surprisingly, she couldn't resist Pan's courtship and fell in love with him. The two had some happy days before Pan's aunt found it out. Such a love affair could only bring disgrace on the convent. The mother superior had to stop it. She sent Pan on his way to another official exam while keeping Chen in the convent. Pan did not disappoint her. He passed the exam with honors and came back to marry Chen.

Qin Tiao (Flirting with a Zither)


One night Pan could not sleep and went for a walk. He ran into Chen, who was playing the zither. Chen had heard that Pan was good at music. She asked Pan to play a song for her. He did. He expressed his feelings in the song and attempted to talk her out of the religious life. Chen was touched but refrained from revealing her emotions.

Wen Bing (Visiting the Sick One)


Pan fell sick. His aunt, along with Chen, came to visit him. What the aunt didn't know is that Pan actually came down with lovesickness and Chen was the cure.

Tou Shi (Stealing a Poem)


Chen couldn't resist Pan's charm. Yet she had to suppress her worldly passions and desires. One day she composed a poem revealing her stirred up emotions, and then dozed off at the desk. Pan happened to pass by Chen's chamber and found the door left ajar. He stepped in and stole a look at the poem. He then knew about Chen's feelings. He woke up Chen and showed her the poem. Chen could no longer hide or deny the truth.

Qiu Jiang (On The Autumn River)


Pan's aunt found out the love affair between Pan and Chen. She would not allow it to develop any further because it could cause a scandal. She sent Pan off to an exam center to prepare for the next official exam. Pan was put on a ship before he could get a chance to say good-bye to Chen. Somehow Chen learned about it and hired a boat to chase Pan's ship. She caught up with Pan and the couple had a brief reunion before Pan sailed off.

Top Copyright?/sup> 06/24/2007