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Another Name of Opera Circle – Li Yuan Hang

There is another name for the operatic circle in China, Liyuan, which stemmed from an ancient story. As a romantic emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618AD~907AD) in the history of China, Tang Ming Emperor loved music, dance and opera very much. Therefore, he recruited a lot of geisha and maiko into the palace and cultivated them with opera as well as dance at a place named Liyuan, which carries the meaning of Pear Garden. However, it was not just a pure fruits garden, but a garden decorated with some luxury equipments such as palace, pavilion for wine drinking and ball court.

As we can see, it was the place for the imperial households and high officials and noble lords to entertain themselves. As a result, Tang Ming Emperor ordered them together in the garden to practice singing and dancing for the purpose of preparing the performances when it came to the banquet or party. Some of the foreign students who are interested in Chinese culture might have learned that it was also used by the emperor in daily entertainment. In addition, the emperor himself also acted as the principle in charge of this garden.

The Liyuan Garden hence became the largest place for actors cultivating. Except some famous expert teachers, some scholars and celebrities such as Libai and He Zhizhang, both of which are famous poets in Tang Dynasty were invited to compile the programs. As a result, it became the practicing place with the combination of singing, dancing and entertaining. Since then, the people related to the training were called Li Yuan Hang and those who have been trained there were called Li Yuan Di Zi, meaning the disciples of pear garden.

This Liyuan Garden is the source of the opera circle and the name of Liyuan Garden is also passed down generation by generation. After the introduction, students who learn Chinese language in China may know the reason that we call the opera circle as Li Yuan Jie and this industry is called Li Yuan Hang. Accordingly, the performers with high skills after being trained are called Li Yuan Di Zi.

If there are several generations devoted themselves to this career, those families should be called Li Yuan Shi Jia. For example, the famous family of Mei Lanfang is regarded as Li Yuan Shi Jian because four generations of his family are all related to the famous Pecking Opera.

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