A jingle on a dance

When the poet Li Shen 李紳 (772-846) occupied Guangling, Zheng Can was his subordinate.  In 844 Can gave a banquet for Li Shen at which the entertainment was a performance by an ageing dancer. 

The jester Sunzi Duo 孫子多 (Many Grandsons) thought up a rhyming jingle about this, giving Li Shen a good laugh. He used a pun on the name of a previous empress, A Wu Po, which with a twist and a shake of characters became A Po Wu, referring to the relatively advanced age of the dancer:

Quotation - Jinhuazi zabian 金華子雜編 - Liu Chongyuan  劉崇遠

His Lordship is versed in the arts and in war,

His faithful servant loves all things present and past,

They’ve heard that in former days there was A Wu Po

And now with their own eyes, they see Old Granny Prance.






Source: Jinhuazi zabian 金華子雜編, by Liu Chongyuan 劉崇遠 (fl.c. 940), fol. 1, Siku Quanshu 四庫全書 (Shanghai: Guji Chubanshe, 1987), vol. 1035, pp. 829b-30a.  The empress was the wife of Emperor Gaozong (r. 650-83).

Image credit: Tang dynasty figurine of a female dancer, unknown provenance.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This