A Night Visit to the Buddhist Temple for Delivery of the Winter Clothes

(Ye tan zhai tang song han yi)

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This is the story of Han Xiangzi, one of Chinese mythology's Eight Immortals. Han Xiangzi has been raised by his uncle since early childhood, following the deaths of his parents. Based on the recommendations of a matchmaker, Han Xiangzi's uncle finds him a wife when he is twenty years of age. The young lady's name is Liu Xiuyin, and she is both beautiful and virtuous.

To everyone's surprise, Han Xiangzi refuses to marry Liu Xiuyin. Wedding guests arrive, only to discover that Han Xiangzi has left home early that morning to practice Taoism in a remote temple. Han's uncle and aunt repeatedly beg him to return, but he refuses. The family is determined not to give up, however, because it is a young man's traditional duty to perpetuate his family clan by marrying and having offspring. One cold winter day, they come up with an ingenious plan: Liu Xiuyin will make a set of winter clothes for Han and will deliver them to the temple herself, hoping to change his mind. Liu Xiuyin visits the temple at night and attempts to win over Han Xiangzi by every possible means. He remains adamant, however, and refuses to return home.

This play is one of the so-called "Four Great Obscene Plays" in Cantonese opera. The other three are: Golden Lotus Flirts with Her Brother-in-Law, Obscene Mouse Plays with a Loyal Lady and Stealing the Poem in the Middle of the Night (or The Romance of the Jade Hairpin). These plays generally feature male actors mimicking feminine characters and styles, and were believed to undermine certain social values during China's feudal period.