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Ancient Chinese etiquette: Another delight for court drama fans

By : China Daily | Published: 2015-December-15

The Legend of Miyue is based on a popular online novel which tells the story of Mi Yue and her life entwined with politics, war, and romance. [File photo]

[InKunming--China]  "I have to demonstrate to the actors and actresses how to kneel that I have frazzled three of my trousers," said Li Bin, etiquette director of the ongoing TV series The Legend of Miyue.

According to Li, the cast of The Legend of Miyue received special training on ancient Chinese etiquette before shooting. And for Li himself, he had been closely following the crew, being on site with the team full-time while filming.

His careful approach regarding Chinese etiquette and its delicate presentation has paid off, as the TV series hit a historical high 1.97 percent rating within ten hours in late November, breaking online viewing records.

"Compared with many other costume dramas, the etiquette and costume in this drama is more solemn and up to standard. My interest for history is greatly evoked by it," said Sina micro-blog user Jinyumantang_297.

While speaking to Beijing Times, Li said he put a lot of effort in filming the wedding scene between Mi Shu and Emperor Qin. "Dressing in an exquisite red wedding dress, eating a slice of meat from a porket, drinking water from the same calabash nuptial cup and eating rice from the same bowl with hands are all in line with what's written in history about national weddings of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC)," Li said.

According to literary quotation, the bride will cover her face with a feather fan during the wedding ceremony. [File photo]

"The first three practices are meant to show that the emperor and the empress are ready to love each other dearly, to share with each other on an equal stance and are inseparably bounded as one. Eating rice is the emperor's pray for a continuous golden harvest in the years to come."

As the disciple of Zhang Xiaolong, the etiquette consultant of another costume phenomenon (The Legend of Zhenhuan), Li is no less professional in being precise with the ABCs of ancient Chinese etiquette as his master has taught him at The Central Academy of Drama in Beijing.

"We didn't use the red silk cloth to veil the bride's face as what we believed to be a necessity in traditional Chinese wedding because it was not written in record until the Wei Dynasty (AD 220-280)," Li said.

"But we did try to make the etiquette more visually appealing - the books didn't write how women walk while making a bow with hands folded in front, so I borrowed the idea from the move in one of Zhang's choreographed dance. The supplement enriched the ceremony with more details."

The Legend of Miyue is based on a popular online novel which tells the story of Mi Yue and her life entwined with politics, war, and romance. Mi Yue, a real historical figure who lived during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) was reportedly the first empress dowager in China.

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