An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Dongjing menghua lu 東京夢華錄

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Meng Yuanlao's 孟元老 (fl. 1147) book Dongjing menghua lu 東京夢華錄 "The dream of Hua in the Eastern Capital" is a very detailed description of the daily life in the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) capital of Kaifeng 開封 (modern Kaifeng, Henan). Kaifeng was called the "Eastern Capital" (Dongdu 東都) because it was located more to the east than Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), the old "western capital", and Luoyang 洛陽 (modern Luoyang/Henan).

In 10 juan, Meng Yuanlao gives an account of how he remembered the bustling life and the capital's inhabitants' customs. The book was written in the 1130s as a reminiscence of the ancient times before the Song court had to flee to the south where it established the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) in Lin'an 臨安 (modern Hangzhou 杭州, Zhejiang).

Concerning the history of Chinese literature and performing arts the "Dream" is an important source for our knowledge about popular theatre and the many diversions people could enjoy in one of the largest cities of her time worldwide. The narrative style of the Dongjing menghua lu was copied by later Southern Song writers, like in Ducheng jisheng 都城紀勝, Menglianglu 夢粱錄 or Wulin jiushi 武林舊事.

The earliest modern edition was published in 1956 by the Shanghai Gudian Wenxue Press 上海古典文學出版社.

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West, Stephen H. (2017). "The Pains of Pleasure: The Lanterns of Kaifeng", in Joseph S.C. Lam, Lin Shuen-fu, Christian de Pee; Martin Powers, ed. Senses of the City: Perceptions of Hangzhou and Southern Song China, 1127-1279 (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press), 109-147.
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