Synopsis: Set in the Tang Dynasty, Ran Yu is a noblewoman who becomes interested in forensic science after her Mother’s mysterious suicide and begins to solve murder cases. She meets a judicial official and an assassin by chance and finds true love through the course of searching for the truth.
NB: Apologies for the magnitude of notes here as ep 15 alludes to lots of traditional texts/poems etc and because of the time constraints I’m unable to put into context what is said. I will try and put it in chronological order to make it easier. If you have the time, please take a look at the notes.
- That is the thing those people with no class do not have….: This is from a section from the Tao Te Ching written by the chinese philosopher Lao Zi and is a kind of religious text to guide how a person should behave. As with a lot of ancient texts written in classical chinese it is a little ambiguous and vague but for this section this is the general interpretation of it.
- This untalented one: It doesn’t mean he is really untalented it’s just a way to show that he is modest. In chinese culture modesty and humbleness is seen as a virtue. So especially in Ancient China people would say this untalented one or I will embarrass myself when they speak about their achievements or before they perform something to show modesty and humbleness. In modern day China the most common form you see this is when you praise someone for being pretty and usually the reply is 哪里哪里 which the literal translation is “where, where”. They are not asking you where you think they are pretty, instead it means “not really”.
- Like making a jacket out of the leaves of the Zabel spiraea and a dress out of lotus flowers: These are two lines from the long poem Li Shao attributed to poet Qu Yuan from the warring states period. The reason why I pointed this out was because the next two lines after these two lines are 不吾知其亦已兮，苟余情其信芳 which means it is alright if no-one understands me, what’s important is that my heart/mind is beautiful. (which I like to think of as another stab towards Ran Mei Yu.)
- Lv Wang was a butcher: These two lines also from the poem Li Shao (in point 3) Lv Wang is Zhang Ziya the brilliant military strategist of King Wen of Zhou.
- Only wish is to have the love of that person and never part from him even if we have white hairs: two lines from a famous love poem “White haired lament” by the female poet Zhuo Wen Jun. This was a poem that was written because of the betrayal she suffered from her husband who she eloped with and gave up her family for in order to be with him. She marries him when his financial situation is bad but when it improves he plans to take a concubine and when she found out, she wrote the poem White Haired Lament to describe her disappointment. It starts off with her describing her love as pure as snow and the moon and clouds in the sky. Then it goes something along the lines of: “But as you have love for another woman, let us break this matrimony. The people I despise the most are those who can drink together for one day and then on the next day their memories flow away like a stream and they forget the promises they make. I walk along the path which we walked hand in hand together and watch as the water flows eastwards, my heart is in pain. I cry and console myself perhaps it’s better to part, you remarry and I will too. Only wish that I can have the full love of one person and never part with him even if we have white hairs.” After hearing this poem and another poem named Poem of farewell her husband gave up the idea of taking a concubine and they got back together.
- Using sentiment/empathy is the best outcome: This comes from the Prosecuting a legal case model 治狱 from the Model for sealing and Physical Examinations text a model that legal officials in Ancient China particularly in the Han and Qin dynasties followed. They acknowledged that caning and any forms of judicial torture would cast doubt on a the confession and should not be used lightly. The book Law, state and society in Early Imperial China has a very comprehensive explanation in English of ancient chinese law and it’s judicial system.
- They were worn by that man often and fitted his feet well: This was an account of a murder that was written on bamboo sticks that was discovered in a tomb from the Qin dynasty describing different types of prominent crimes that occurred at the time. This was a comprehensive description of the crime scene of one of the murders, with details of where he was found, condition of the body, the different types of wounds on his body, if there was a struggle and the direction the authorities took to try and solve this murder. They suspected it was the work of bandits as he lived alone about 100 feet from a group of bandits, whereas the nearest village was 200 feet away. (If you want the graphical detail tell me and I’ll put it in a comment)
- Foreign bread: This is a type of naan with sesame seeds scattered on top that was widely found around the country.
- Sentiment and Profit: Here the character for profit also has meanings such as well, beneficial, assist and in the context above would be used to mean a good fit as what characteristics must shoes have to be beneficial to feet? (ok there are other ways I know but it also talks about how worn they were etc)
- Bagua formation: It is often in the same of an octagon with a Yin and Yang symbol in the center. Often known as the 8 triagrams. Each line represents different things in different contexts. Often used in Taoist cosmology and Feng shui i.e. to map a room, find areas that will bring prosperity and good fortune and areas that will bring bad luck
Final NB: No wonder there’s such a big difference between RY and RMY. RMY’s Mother teaches her to use an aphrodisiac to get a man’s attention and to do everything to get her hands on the man she likes whereas RY’s Mother teaches her about justice, law and murder cases!