Rare Books

Xinbian Mulian Jiumu Quanshan Xiwen (New Compilation of the Play Scripts about Mulian Rescuing His Mother), 3 juan

Compiled by Zheng Zhizhen (1518-1595); proofread by Ye Zongtai; engraved by Huang Ting and Huang Bang of Ming Dynasty. Xin'an Zheng Shi Gao Shi Shanfang Edition in the 10th year of Wanli Period (1582), Ming Dynasty.

The story of Mulian (Maudgalyayana in Sanskrit) rescuing his mother was derived from the Foshuo Yulan Peng Jing (Sutra of the Sacrificial Feast for Hungry Ghost Spoken by the Buddha; Ullambana-sutra in Sanskrit), and was transformed later into a play and became popular in successive dynasties since Song. The Xinbian Mulian Jiumu Quanshan Xiwen compiled by Zheng Zhizhen is the earliest extant edition of stage scripts (tai ben) for plays with the Mulian theme. Its illustrations are early examples of the Huizhou woodblock engraving school, presenting its distinctive engraving style with lively and expressive figures as well as high contrast between black-ink areas and blank spaces.