The Center for East Asian Studies has recently recieved a large collection of Peking operas. Our collection now includes multiple versions of Peking classics including The Unicorn Purse.
The Unicorn Purse is one of the most popular Peking operas. It tells the story of two brides who cross paths on the day of their wedding. One bride, Xue Xiangling, is very wealthy and had just received a unicorn purse (or purse full of jewels) as a wedding gift from her mother. The other bride, Zhao Shouzhen, is less well off. The two brides take shelter together when it rains, and Zhao Shouzhen tells Xue Xiangling of her family’s destitution and her own sadness. Xue Xiangling kindly offers Zhao Shouzhen the unicorn purse.
Six years later, Xiangling’s family is forced to leave their native land after a flood. On the way, Xiangling is separted from her family and ends up in Laizhou. There, she finds work as the nanny of the Lu family son.
One day, she sees the unicorn purse that she gave Zhao Shouzhen on the center of the altar table. She is saddened by her own turn of fate and cries. Madame Lu, who turns out to be Zhao Shouzhen, wants to know why and finds out that Xue Xiangling was the one who gave her the unicorn purse all those years ago. Xue Xiangling is treated like a honored guest, and Zhao Shouzhen helps her reunite with her family.
For more information on The Unicorn Purse, please go to: https://mahimahi.uchicago.edu/admin/ceas/asset.php?assetid=0007109&keywords=Beijing%20Opera. And to explore more Beijing operas please go to: https://mahimahi.uchicago.edu/admin/ceas/index.php?language=&title=&fltitle=&trtitle=&director=&year=&keywords=Beijing+Opera&subtitles=&Search=Search, or come by our office in 1155 E. 60th St., Room 310.