Shi Yukun

Shi Yukun (fl. 19th century), courtesy name Zhenzhi, was a highly popular Beijing-based storyteller during the Qing dynasty. He is credited for creating the 1879 wuxia novel The Tale of Loyal Heroes and Righteous Gallants (better known today as The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants or The Three Heroes and Five Gallants). While the novel prominently displayed his name on its cover—the first time a Chinese storyteller was credited as the sole author – whether he actually contributed to the print novel is unknown.

While eponymous poems and zidishu solely to celebrate (or perhaps mock) Shi Yukun's fame and storytelling skills have survived, little is actually known about his life, besides that he performed his art in the national capital Beijing during the 19th century, probably as early as 1817. While some scholars had believed he was originally from Tianjin, it was probably a mistake made by confusing Shi Yukun and Shi Duo the publisher of the 1891 novel The Five Younger Gallants which also claimed Shi Yukun as its original source. The suggestion that Shi Yukun was ethnic Manchu, based on his surname (common in Manchus) and the Manchu genre of zidishu in his performances, also lacks convincing evidence. He was called "Third Master" by at least another storyteller.

His performances, accompanied by sanxian (3-stringed lute) playing, attracted audience in the thousands. He did not employ a wooden clapper like modern pingshu performers, rather, he used his musical instrument to call the audience's attention. He was best known for his poetic lyrics and tunes during his songs.

Rare for a public storyteller, he was literate and is believed by some to be the same person as the one behind the pen name Wenzhu Zhuren ("Bamboo-Inquiring Master"), who first edited the original transcript of his storytelling for publication, which eventually became The Three Heroes and Five Gallants.


The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. Volume 1
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The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. Volume 1

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The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. Volume 2
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The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. Volume 2

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