The marble tombstone together with the plum blossom layout clearly identifies the person buried right here, whose surname, Mei, is the Chinese word for plum, whose flower symbolizes elegance and fortitude.
The tomb is for Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), a grasp of Peking Opera, in addition to his two wives and other family members.
He lies resting halfway up Wanhua Hill, close to Xiangshan Mountain, in Beijing's western suburbs, surrounded by a pine grove. The trees were planted in accordance with his wishes, and may occasionally be heard whispering while in the soft early spring breeze.
The plum blossom motif can be witnessed everywhere, and also the flower does possibly explain Mei's character. Yan Geling, the scriptwriter with the 2008 biographical movie Permanently Enthralled, directed by Chen Kaige, refers to Mei as a "soft resister of his times".
Mei was born right into a family of Peking Opera and Kunqu performers. He created his debut in the age of 10, and more than the program of his far more than half-a-century stage occupation, he absorbed the essence in the art's traditions, continuously adapting them to keep abreast in the times.
He is particularly noted for his interpretations of Liu Yingchun, in the Fen River Bend, Consort Yang Yuhuan, while in the Drunken Concubine, and Consort Yu, in Farewell My Concubine.
Mei was acknowledged for his dan (feminine character) roles, and is paramount amongst the 4 excellent dan performers (the other folks becoming Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu and Xun Huisheng), of Peking Opera's golden era. As these, he created his individual type, that is identified since the "Mei Lanfang School".
He was, in fact, the primary person to introduce Peking Opera to the world, by means of tours to Japan (1919, 1924 and 1956), the usa (1930), and also the Soviet Union (1935 and 1952).
Mei was indeed a resister; his adaptations with the traditions have been the moment criticized and his efforts to make high-class artists out of humble people had been considered contemptible. In these situations, he couldn't be as soft because the tender feminine roles he played - there needed to be a robust force within to maintain pushing him forward and letting him hold on.
Through the War of Resistance In opposition to Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), a Japanese army commander ordered Mei to complete for him and gave him a high-ranking place. But Mei refused, grew a moustache, and endured frugally until the conclude from the war.
For this reason, Mei has been hailed being a great patriot. Nevertheless, some lines from his autobiography, Forty Many years of Life on Stage, reveal a more delicately nuanced persona: "For an actor of my age, what an incredible reduction that eight-year gap was. It's a loss which will never be compensated. In that long time period of time, I used to be dead at heart. I grew a moustache, clenched my teeth, and led a quiet, dull life. The mere thought of it reminds me of how the war debilitated me."
Mei selected the cemetery area himself. One particular curious purpose was that Wanhua, the identify with the hill, transpires to get a homophone of his style identify, or zi (also known as a courtesy title, offered soon after the age of twenty being a symbol of adulthood).
One more curious point is always that the hill sits opposite "Mei boulder", on Xiangshan Mountain, a spot he used to regular in his youth.
While in the spring of 1922, Mei traveled to Toad Peak on Xiangshan Mountain, with numerous pals. Nearly all of the boulders bore inscriptions in the Qianlong emperor with the Qing Dynasty. Mei identified one particular challenging boulder and whimsically wrote a one.95-meter-tall, 1.9-meter-wide "mei" character. That boulder is now a scenic spot that attracts many vacationers, particularly in late autumn, when the maple leaves are a crimson-gold.
Soon after Mei's death, other elderly members from the Peking Opera decided to be buried inside a related setting, like the actor Ma Lianliang, accompanist Xu Lanwan, and actor and opera teacher Wang Shaolou. It would seem that artists nevertheless wish to collect inside the company of their own sort within the afterlife - probably in a very overall performance of everlasting sorrow and loss. Beijing weekend trips