Alison Hardie. ‘A Place Deep Amid Flowers’: Zhang Xiu’s Illustrations to Ruan Dacheng’s Spring Lantern Riddles
In 1633, a well-known Ming poet and official named Ruan Dacheng (later to become notorious as a ‘turncoat’ who took office under the Qing) published the first of his four surviving plays, Spring Lantern Riddles or Ten Cases of Mistaken Identity. To illustrate the immensely complex tale, he selected the Nanjing-based professional artist Zhang Xiu. Alison Hardie discusses a selection of the illustrations to illuminate our understanding both of the drama and of the author himself.