Chen Shimei

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Chen.
Chen Shimei
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Chen Shimei is a Chinese opera character and a byword in China for a heartless and unfaithful man.


An illustration from a 1594 copy of the novel Legal Cases of A Hundred Families Judged by Dragon-Design Bao (包龍圖判百家公案) depicting Chen Shimei in a banquet listening to his abandoned wife Lady Qin disguised as a pipa player.

“Illustrated Edition of Bao Zheng’s Trials of A Hundred Legal Cases” (增像包龙图判百家公案), “Bao Zheng’s Cases” (包公案) in short, published in 1595 had already had the story of Chen Shimei whose children’s names were as the same as they are in the traditional opera.

Chinese Opera[edit]

The story of Beijing opera “[Chen Shi] Mei’s Beheading Case” (铡美案):

In Song Dynasty, Chen Shimei (陈 世美) placed first in the imperial examination and was awarded to be the son-in-law of the Emperor. However, when his original wife Qin Xianglian (秦 香蓮) came to the capital with their children to look for him, Chen Shimei not only claimed not knowing them, but ordered his bodyguard Han Qi (韩 琪) to kill them. However, when Qin Xianglian cried and told the truth, Han Qi could not kill them but killed himself in Sanguantang (三官堂). Qin Xianglian went to Bao Zheng to sue Chen Shimei. Bao Zheng planned to have Qin confront Chen. Chen took himself as the Emperor’s relative for granted and refused to tell the truth. When Bao Zheng was going to behead him, the Queen Mother and the Princess came to stop him. But Bao Zheng ignored it and beheaded Chen Shimei.

After the foundation of People's Republic of China, Changchun Film Studio (長春電影製片廠) produced colourful opera film “Qin Xianglian” in 1964 to preserve the stage craft of Beijing opera performing artists such as Junqiu Zhang (張 君秋), Lianliang Ma (馬 連良), Duokui Li (李 多奎) and Shengrong Qiu (裘 盛戎).


See also[edit]