This is not a new post – It’s copy-and-pasted from here merely for the sake of an easier way to manga my posts (with more updates added).
Below some examples of chinese historical settings in shaonu manhua (aka “chinese comics for girls”)
(For those who are interested in the History of China can have a look here)
Eastern Han of Imperial China (東漢)
If you have watched the movie, Red Cliff, then you would probably be familiar with one of its character, Zhou Yu (周瑜), who had played a crucial role during the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD.
The beautiful romance between Zhou Yu and his wife, Xiao Qiao (小喬) were often used as the theme for historical romance novels and manhua, such asWedding Theme 嫁情曲 by Lu Xiang Ru (呂相儒).
Western Jin Dynasty (五代西晉年)
The Pearl Grudge 珍珠怨 is a manhua by Ou Bi Feng (歐碧鳳), written by Wu Man Chi, set in the Western Jin period of Imperial China when Emperor Hui succeeded the throne following the death of his father, Emperor Wu, in 290 AD. In reality, it was the emperor’s wife, Empress Jia Nanfeng who had truly exerted power thus empowering her family and the Jia clan at the courts.
The story of The Pearl Grudge was written based on a poem, The Garden of the Golden Valley 金谷園 by Du Mu (杜牧) (803–852) who was a leading Chinese poet of the late Tang Dynasty. In particular, the last line of this famous poem, “落花猶似墜樓人” (meaning “flower petals are falling as if a falling person from the tower”) referred to a historical figure, Lu Zhu (綠珠, meaning ”green pearl”) and her tragedy romance with Shi Chong (石崇)in the Western Jin Dynasty. (NB. In the poem, “THE tower” refers to the tower in the Garden of the Golden Valley, which was an estate and villa owned by the wealthy Shi. On protecting her virtues and loyalty to Shi, Lu Zhu jumped to her death from the tower after Shi was defeated by his political opponents….)
Northern Song Dynasty (北宋朝)
Sometimes ago, I have written a [Manga Talk] on Proclaiming and Loving 宣和戀 by Yi Huan (依歡), which is a manhua set in the Xuan He period of Northern Song Dynasty (1119- 1125). At the time of writing that [Manga Talk], my focus was more on the story-line itself (i.e. the entangled relationship between the girl and two other men, etc).
But to be fair, what I should have also pointed out then, was the fact that the author had shown us delicately her hard work in research for matching her story as closely as possible to the actual history.
For instance, some historical events such as Jingkang Incident 靖康事變 (1126- 1127), were used to depict the rotten dynasty at its peak of corruptions and political tug-of-wars inside imperial courts.
Nonetheless, Yi Huan had not forgotten to also depict those technology innovations at the time, for instance, the use of movable woodblock (technology) in printing, which was one of the four greatest inventions of China in history.
The story continued in its sequel, Real and Fake Princess 真假公主, after Jingkang Incident when the defeated imperial family was forced to flee and re-establish in the south at Lin’an – The new Southern Song Dynasty was formed….
Ming Dynasty (明朝)
The naval history of China dates back to the early Ming Dynasty, when Zheng He (鄭和) commanded seven voyages expeditions between 1405 to 1433. It was during those times when the imperial China became a leader of naval power. Zheng He’s great voyages were designed to re-establish diplomacy and large-scale maritime trade with the West, as well as to defeat suppress pirates which had continued to pose threats and challenges to the imperial courts.
The exotic theme of pirates as well as culture-exchange between the east and west were depicted in Yi Huan’s (again!) Spirit of the Oceans 碧海精靈.
The history of imperial China, or Zhong Yuan (中原) as it was known in the ancient times, often intervened with the ancient neighboring countries, such as the ancient Qiuci (龜兹) and Wusun (烏孫) of the Western Regions (西域三十六國) and The Xiongnu (匈奴) during Han Dynasty of China, as well as the Khitan Empire (契丹國) and Kingdom of Dali (大理國) during Song Dynasty..
Whilst those neighbouring empires posed military threats to the imperial China, political alliances were formed through heqin (和親), i.e. by “marrying off” the Chinese imperial princesses/ concubines to foreign countries as part of a diplomatic policy in those days.
In the world of shounu manhua, this kind of “alliance-marriages” was often used to reflect melancholic mood of a story, for instance Song of Xinjiang (??) 細疆曲 and Broken Arm Princess 斷腕公主 , both by Hou Cai You (侯采佑)…… or otherwise a comedy, such as Li Ren Man 儷人蠻 by You Gui Xiu (游圭秀) about a Mongolian princess forcing her way into the imperial family! Eventually, she had to leave Zhong Yuan to return home – BUT first, she had to capture her “targeted” before her great departure!!
Song of Xinjiang 細疆曲 was written based on a real historical figure, Liu Xiangfu (劉相夫), who was to be married off to the Prince Yuanguimi of Wusun by Emperor Xiao Xuan of Han. But after the death of King Wengguimi of Wusun and his throne succeeded by King Nimi instead, the diplomatic marriage was called off.
Liu Xiangfu’s aunty, Liu Jieyou (劉解憂) was also married off under a diplomatic marriage – In 103 B.C., Emperor Wu of Han married off Princess Liu Jieyou (劉解憂公主), daughter of Han prince Liu Wu -Prince of Chu (楚王劉戊), to Junxumi, King of Wusun (King Liejiaomi’s grandson). After King Junxumi’s death in 93 B.C., Princess Jieyou, in accordance with Wusun tradition, married his successor (and younger brother), King Wengguimi. After King Wengguimi’s death in 60 B.C., Princess Jieyou again remarried to his successor King Nimi (son of King Junximi and a Xiongnu princess). (Source: Wikipedia)
Liu Jieyou was mentioned in Song of Xinjiang as well as Broken Arm Princess.
Liu Jieyou’s elder daughter, Dishi, was married to the King of Qiuzi (Kucha) and mother of the heroine in Broken Arm Princess.
For more information about Liu Jieyou and her influences in politics and culture exchanges between Han and the Western Regions, see here (Source: “Biographical dictionary of Chinese women: antiquity through Sui….”, By Lily Xiao Hong Lee, A. D. Stefanowska, Sue Wiles)