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Knowledge Bank - Chinese Culture

Home > Knowledge Bank > Chinese Culture > Tragedy the Orphan of Zhao vs Chinese Orphan

Tragedy the Orphan of Zhao vs Chinese Orphan

2012.08.13


The Orphan of Zhao was created by poetic drama writer Ji Junxiang in Yuan Dynasty while the Chinese Orphan was recomposed by French scholar Voltaire based on the edition of Ji Junxiang. The story of Orphan of Zhao described the event happening in Jin in the Spring and Autumn Period. The foreign students who had taken online Chinese Lessons might know that the time period of the Spring and Autumn Period was from year 770 BC to year 476 BC. The story happened during the time period of Duke Ling. The family members of Zhao Dun were all killed by the treacherous court official Tu Anjia. The only survivor was the posthumous child of Zhao Shuo and the child was the orphan of Zhao whose name was Zhao Wu. When he grew up, he revenged for his family.

The story went like this. The retainer of Zhao Shuo whose name was Cheng Ying was an upright person. He was a doctor of the lower class. After the discussion with Gongsun Chujiu who was also a retainer of Zhao Shuo, they decided to save the descendant of the loyal Zhao Shuo by replacing Zhao Wu by their own son. By sacrificing Gongsun Chujiu and the son of Cheng Ying, the descendant of Zhao Shuo was safe and survived in the killing. And Cheng Ying raised the descendant to an adult. After 20 years, Cheng Ying told the truth to Zhao Wu and Zhao Wu revenged for the family members. The story reflected the loyalty of the officers including Cheng Ying and Gongsun Chujiu and sang the sacrifice spirit of them.

The real cultural exchange between China and other foreign countries began when the French writer Joseph de Premare translated some parts of the work Orphan of Zhao. He was devoted to offering materials about Chinese stories to western writers who were fascinated by the Chinese culture and relevant works. The translation motivated the interest of the westerners to Chinese works. The reason why more and more people came to take part in Chinese learning programs was that they were interested in Chinese literature and culture.

The Orphan of Zhao was an attractive story and Voltaire created the Chinese Orphan based on the story. The Chinese Orphan praised the good Chinese moral concepts, which influenced the French drama circle as well as the European drama circle. 

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