Source: China State Council Information Office 3
There’s an old saying that behind every great man is a great woman.
This is indeed true in the case of emperor Jingzong. His wife, Xiao Chuo-also known as Xiao Yanyan-assisted him to propel the Khitanruling Liao Dynasty (916-1125) to the zenith of prosperity, making her one of a few legendary women who changed Chinese history.
The 48-episode TV series, The Legend of Xiao Chuo, has run on Beijing Satellite TV and streaming site Tencent Video since Nov 3, guiding audiences to examine the history and culture of the Liao, a dynasty that features less on domestic screens.
The series adapted from writer Jiang Shengnan’s award-wining eponymous novel reached a 1.74 percent rating on the first day, soaring as the second most watched TV series then, and related topics have generated 880 million “clicks” on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
The biographical story spans about four decades. It begins with Xiao’s teen years as the carefree daughter of a high-ranking official’s family. It depicts her romance with her childhood sweetheart, Han Derang.
But her talent and foresight in strategy and administration captivates emperor Jingzong, with their marriage making her the country’s most powerful woman and enabling her to fulfill her ambition to lead the Liao Dynasty to unprecedented stability and prosperity.
Actress Tang Yan, who shot to fame with the 2009 fantasy sequel Chinese Paladin 3, stars as Xiao. Actor Shawn Dou plays Han, who later becomes Xiao’s most reliable official, and actor Jing Chao, who portrays the protagonist’s emperor husband.
Interestingly, Xiao was depicted as a villainous figure, who led her army to fight against rival Song Dynasty (960-1279) troops in the 16th-century novel, Generals of the Yang Family.
As the novel is very popular and has spawned many operas, TV series and films, the new series has stirred controversy online.
Jiang, who also serves as the TV drama’s scriptwriter, says she believes it would be fair to think about history from a different perspective.
While multiple regimes existed during the same eras in Chinese history, Jiang says it would help modern audiences to understand the periods with a more complete and profound perspective if the history can be told from all regimes’ perspectives.