dream of the red chambers


“Dream of the Red Chamber” theme stations open in Nanjing subway

Frescos depicting scenes in “Dream of the Red Chamber,” a masterpiece of Chinese literature, have attracted crowds in a subway line in East China’s Nanjing City, the capital of Jiangsu Province.

Nine stations in the city’s third subway line that opened on Wednesday have become quite eye-catching as the walls are decorated with colorful paintings of famous scenes from the classic novel “Dream of the Red Chamber”, also known as “The Story of the Stone.”

Written by Cao Xueqin, “Dream of the Red Chamber” is given to the world in the 18th century, which is generally acknowledged as the pinnacle of Chinese fiction and has been classified as one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels.

The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters (most of them female), but also for its detailed observation of the typical life and social structure of the 18th-century Chinese aristocracy.


Traditional Chinese hairpin, 宫花gōng huā(court flower) in Palace Museum, Beijing. Gonghua is a kind of 簪花zān huā (flower hairpin) made of various delicate silks by the court craftsman in ancient china. They can also be called 绢花juanhua or 绒花ronghua. See Part 1. Cao Xueqin mentions them in Dream of the Red Chamber. Previous post of royal hairpins.

List of Presents given to Princess Charlotte
  • Silver rattle – President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico
  • White gold rattle with diamonds, rubies and sapphires – The Natural Sapphire Company
  • Willow hand-woven rattle – Ciaran Hogan, basketmaker
  • Set of silk figurines depicting Dream of the Red Chamber – President Xi Jinping of China
  • Jigsaw, cuddly toy “Bo” dog, rocking chair, baby blanket – President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
  • Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales – David Cameron
  • Snowsuit, book, and £54,000 charity donation – Stephen Harper, former Canadian prime minister
  • Snowsuit – Wellington Rugby, New Zealand
  • Sleepsuit – New Zealand Rugby
  • Teddy bears, baby blankets, bootees made from Stansborough wool – Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand
  • Pink dress embroidered with “From Israel With Love” – President Reuven Rivlin of Israel
  • Merino wool cot blanket and £5,200 donation to mountain pygmy-possum sanctuary – Government of Australia
  • Bhutanese coat – King and Queen of Bhutan
  • Set of biodegradable nappies – Pippa Middleton

Pictures of the TV drama, Dream of the Red Chamber(红楼梦). It was shot in 1987 and was based on the same-name novel. The novel is a masterpiece of Chinese vernacular literature. Most Chinese consider it the greatest classical novel in ancient China. Almost every family watched this TV drama back in 90s. It is a household word.

What impress people most is how much efforts the staff made for this TV drama. They invited scholars and experts for reference of dressing of Han Chinese in Qing Dynasty. They selected actresses with utmost care. They trained these actresses for at least three years only to meet the demeanor and temperament of girls from aristocratic family in ancient China. For example, how to walk, how to sit, how to smile, and how to do calligraphy, these details mattered a lot. I personally think none of the TV drama about ancient China can compete with it. It’s still a fashion legend in China today.

And these actresses are truly classical Chinese beauties!

What good is all of this
love so tender it is almost tragic –

full of saying things no one ever means,
crushing ribs of mottled bamboo fans,
cutting up embroidered sachets,
and crying until it is all

loose threads,
pink faces, and warfare

but when it happens, you will feel it:
the lamplight humming like plucked strings,
the reflected moon caught in mid-


There is thunder under your skin
when she looks at you. It is all you need,

so loud
no one speaks.

—  astagesetforcatastrophe, from for the river queen: “the love death”