A wronged widow is vindicated after death

Tan Weiyun
The opera "Injustice to Dou E" is a household Chinese tale of a widow falsely accused, wrongly convicted, beaten at court and finally beheaded on the spot.
Tan Weiyun
A wronged widow is vindicated after death

“Injustice to Dou E” by Zhu Gang

The opera “Injustice to Dou E” is a household Chinese tale of a widow falsely accused, wrongly convicted, beaten at court and finally beheaded on the spot. 

Born into a poor family, Dou was sold by her father as a child bride to a sick man. She was widowed two years after the marriage. One day, a village ne’er-do-well named Zhang Lu’er saw the pretty young widow and wanted to take her, but Dou refused. 

Angered, the man planned to murder Dou’s mother-in-law so that he could seize her for himself after the old woman died, but he mistakenly poisoned his own father to death instead. 

Zhang blamed Dou for the tragedy and framed her for the murder of his father. Dou was arrested and tortured on the orders of governor Tao Wu, who had been bribed by Zhang. 

Dou insisted she was innocent but was nonetheless sentenced to death. Before her execution, she swore that her innocence would be proven if three things occurred after her death: that her blood spilled on her white clothes without dripping onto the dirty ground, that a heavy midsummer snow covered her body, and that her hometown of Chuzhou suffered a three-year drought.

All the three events happened, proving that she died unjustly. 

Zhu Gang portrayed the scene of her execution in his opera art. The wrongly convicted woman kneels on the ground with her eyes closed and hands tied behind her back. The white prison dress is red with her blood. 

Large blood drops in the background accent the tragic, grieving atmosphere of the whole picture.

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