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 notes: again there are lots of excerpts from chinese literature in these two episodes.
- The Dragon courts the Phoenix: This is a famous courting song during the Han Dynasty composed by Sima Xiangru for the Guqin and voice during his courtship towards Zuo Wenqun (you may remember her in my notes for ep 15-16). It was believed he won over her heart with this song which led to their elopement. Because of their love story, this became the song to be played during courtship through much of chinese history. (Trivia: Also the chinese name for the drama Untouchable lovers) If you are wondering what the melody Sang Chen is playing on the Guqin when Ran Yan comes out is, it is this song.
- Widower who killed his wives: The chinese has their own fates and that some have a fate that brings with it catastrophe and death of the ones around them because their fates were too “hard”. In this instance, he didn’t kill them through traditional means, rather they are talking about the fact that any woman who will become his wife will be fated to die.
- Eating vinegar: It means jealousy. This term comes from a true story Emperor Taizong (also the Emperor of this drama) once tried to gift his chancellor Fang Xuan Ling some beautiful women to take home with him as his concubines because Chancellor Fang’s wife was known for her jealousy and everyone believed too afraid of his ferocious wife to take one. When Chancellor Fang returned home with those two concubines, his wife flew into a fit of rage and kicked the two beautiful women out of the manor. Chancellor Fang had no choice but to take his wife and the two concubines to the palace and inform the Emperor and to ask him to retract his decree. The Emperor wanted to test Mistress Fang and told her that if she refused to take in those concubines she must drink the poisonous wine he prepared for her otherwise she would have to accept it. She grabbed the wine and immediately drank it telling Emperor Taizong that her husband can only take them if she dies. Luckily the “poisonous wine” was simply vinegar and the Emperor only did it to test her. He retracted his decree and it became a term to describe anyone who is jealous over love.
- Without morals, honor, proper etiquette there will be no success: From the book of rites.
- One must not be too greedy nor should they only live for happiness: Also from the book of rites, which Ran Yan uses to answer Xiao Song’s mother’s question.
- Dismounting a tiger: A saying to describe that this situation may get out of hand. In this case, because of how grand the wedding is, when they annul the wedding there may be quite a lot of backlash.
- If the source is peaceful….his form will be straight and upright: From a decree written by a minister during Emperor Taizong’s reign to try and persuade him to make preparations before a threat comes
- A gentleman should….By not pursuing profit, power one will find one’s interests and aspirations: This is an excerpt written by Zhu Geliang a famous chinese politician during the 3 kingdoms period for his eight year old son to teach him how to be a good person who will contribute to the world. Indeed this was the doctrine he himself closely followed throughout his life
- You walk….and like that you and I are separated: This is from a poem about a woman who is missing her husband who is far away probably fighting in battle and to remind him take good care of himself.
- Although my body….My soul will still remains a hero amongst the dead: This is an excerpt from a war poem roughly translates to the sorrow of the country and was written to commemorate the soldiers who died in battle.
- Like the birds flying west, beautiful like the eagle: First two lines of the poem: Poem of farewell which roughly talks about how they are separated one in the south and the other in the north and the only way they can communicate is through messages carried by birds. And how the poet wishes he could fly south with the birds to visit the person they wish to see.
- East Palace: This is the quarters of the Crown Prince
- Green dress…when can this pain halt!: The first poem from the book of songs/poems. No-one knows who wrote it but it was about a man who is mourning for his dead wife. Also the earliest known mourning poem in chinese history. Each line the poem starts with Green dress oh green dress or green string oh green string except the last line which goes something like this “mourning gown, oh this mourning gown I feel so cold in it, I yearn for my dead wife who knows me best”.