Random Stuff #7: the Characters of “The Longest Day in Chang’an” that Really Existed (Part 2)
(Part 1 Here)
Yuan Zai (元载/元載) and Wang Xunxiu (王韫秀/王韞秀):
Yuan Zai in the drama was arguably even more manipulative than Lin Jiulang, and this is somewhat historically accurate, though like Lin Jiulang's historical counterpart Li Linfu, Yuan Zai also had some accomplishments, like promoting people who were good at finances. However, after he became the chancellor during Emperor Daizong's reign (Daizong is the eldest son of Suzong), he became extremely corrupt, only giving promotions to people who gave him gifts. While chancellor, Yuan Zai was also a major political opponent against Li Bi. But because he was corrupt, and because people envied his power within the court, Yuan Zai gradually fell out of favor with Emperor Daizong. Eventually, Yuan Zai (and his entire family) was ordered to commit suicide.
Yuan Zai's relationship with his wife Wang Yunxiu, however, was very different from the depiction in the drama. Yuan Zai married Wang Yunxiu even before he came to Chang'an in pursuit of a better career. In fact, Wang Yunxiu was the one who encouraged him to do so. Before setting out for Chang'an, the pair exchanged poems with each other (both poems are in the collection "Complete Collection of Tang-era Poems", or 《全唐诗》), so the love was probably mutual and not manufactured for a purpose.
Yao Runeng (姚汝能):
Historically, Yao Runeng was not the descendant of the famous Tang dynasty chancellor Yao Chong (姚崇). Actually, he was a relative "nobody", just like Zhang Xiaojing. So it was fitting that the real Yao Runeng would be the author of the book ("The Deeds of An Lushan") that contained the only real record about Zhang Xiaojing.
About that book he wrote: it's been speculated that the big boss behind the Persian gold coins was An Lushan, who was the perpetrator of the rebellion that destroyed Chang'an a mere 10 years later. Since Yao Runeng was given a gold coin in the last episode, him being the real-life author of a book about An Lushan and the rebellion becomes rather interesting.
Cheng Shen (程参)/ historical: Cen Shen (岑參):
Like He Zhizhang, Cen Shen was also known more for his poetry. While He Zhizhang was more well-known but only has 19 surviving poems, Cen Shen has a whopping 360 surviving poems, mostly about his travels near the border.
Yan Yuhuan (严羽幻)/ historical: Yang Yuhuan (楊玉環):
Yan Yuhuan's historical counterpart, Yang Yuhuan, is arguably the most historically famous female from the drama. Heck, she might be one of the the most famous women from Chinese history, period. Her fame came from her looks, so much so that she became one of the four most beautiful women of Chinese history. It was no wonder that Li Longji/Xuanzong (the emperor depicted in the drama) was captivated by her. She was also distantly related to Yang Guozhong, the treacherous chancellor that Zhang Xiaojing killed (according to Yao Runeng's book).
Unfortunately for Yang Yuhuan, during the rebellion, everyone thought she was the cause of the unrest (not true; there were many many other causes) and a "bad influence" for the emperor , so the emperor ordered her to hang herself. In short, she became another sacrifice in a society controlled by men.
Xu Hezi (许合子)/ historical: Xu Hezi (許鶴子):
If the real Yan Yuhuan's story was the tragedy of a beautiful Tang-era woman, the real Xu Hezi's story was the tragedy of a Tang-era female entertainer. The historical Xu Hezi was also a famous singer of commoner descent, but when the rebellion happened, she was forced to escape Chang'an, and died a lowly entertainer/prostitute.
Guo Lishi (郭利仕)/ historical: Gao Lishi (高力士):
Li Bi's "uncle Guo" wasn't explicitly mentioned as a eunuch in the drama, though his headwear gave it away (his headwear is called "long jin"/籠巾, and is usually reserved for eunuchs in historical dramas). Historically, Gao Lishi was a powerful eunuch who was first favored by Wu Zetian (the first and only female Chinese emperor), then Li Longji/Xuanzong. Gao Lishi was very corrupt: rumors suggest he had more money than the national treasury. However, he was also very loyal. Upon hearing of Li Longji/Xuanzong's death in 762 AD, he fell ill out of grief, and died.
(These people who appeared in the drama were also taken from history, and because their roles in the drama were small, I will only list their names here. It is worth noting, however, that although their roles seemed small in the drama, they were all influential people in Tang court in 744 AD)
Gan Shoucheng (甘守诚/甘守誠)
Mao Shun (毛顺/毛順)
Jiao Sui (焦遂)
Chen Xuanli (陈玄礼/陳玄禮)
Ji Wen (吉温/吉溫)
Luo Xishi (罗希奭/羅希奭)
Wang Hong (王鉷)
Chen Xilie (陈希烈/陳希烈)
Pei Dunfu (裴敦复/裴敦復)
Wei Jian (韦坚/韋堅)
Huangfu Weiming (皇甫惟明)
Li Jingzhong (李静忠/李靜忠)/ later changed to Li Fuguo (李輔國)
omg now that you're done with qjj (yaaaay), if you don't mind sharing: what are your thoughts on 姚温玉 and 乔天涯?
Scroll down. (The blog, that is. Just one post)
If the book was written from just their perspective, I’d totally read it. It’d be a tragedy, but I do read tragedies. Most of my favs actually are BE.
I can’t tell you too much about Qiao Tianya, as his plotline happened in the first part of the book, and I’ve only read it once so I’ve forgotten half his back story. But what I love about Yao Wenyu’s story is its inevitability.
He had to die, because he’s like a firework. He’s gunpowder set up in all sort of intricate ways but kept in a cool and dry place. A firework isn’t anything until you light it, and Yao Wenyu was only alive while he was dying. Qiao Tianya understood this; I suspect that if Yao Wenyu remained an inert firework those two would never have progressed anywhere past ... pet-sitting and qin-playing.
In review I find Qiao Tianya’s ending reaction to be somewhat ooc.
(I was expecting him to stay, collect his lover’s ashes, keep the red string in the urn, and take it with him as he travels the world so if one day he accidentally died somewhere they’d be buried together, no matter where they are? Not, turn right around and disappear before 頭七?
though that does remind me of another tragedy, in which an MC refused to open a coffin to see the body one last time, because “he is not lying in there, that is not him, so why would I look?”)
But back to inevitability: they were only possible as a couple because bad things happened to both of them, and these bad things made for inevitable 天人永隔, which is how i like my tragedies. (i love them)