Without electricity, what did the ancients do at night

Speaking of “no electricity” in ancient times, although the nightlife recorded in ancient books is often called “traveling fans”, they are fascinated. But to be honest, for most ancients, living overnight was really a luxury. Just as the famous saying in German “The Grimm’s Fairy Tales”: “After eating, it’s time to go to bed.”

Therefore, in ancient times, “going to bed after dinner” was the normal state of life. Why is it so difficult to live overnight? In ancient Chinese history, in addition to the “curfew” policy of the past dynasties, a direct difficulty is that in ancient times when there was no electricity, “lighting up and illuminating the light” at night was not only difficult, but also quite expensive.

For example, from the Qin and Han Dynasties to the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the lighting fixtures at that time were mainly copper lamps and porcelain lamps. Well-known cultural relics such as the “Changxin Palace Lantern” have astounded countless people so far. The “lamp oil” burned was also animal fat fuel at one time. Good-looking is good-looking, and the price is quite high. For a long time, it has been exclusively enjoyed by nobles and rich people. Therefore, the “night life” of the noble officials at that time, the gorgeous scene of “the night feast in the East Mountain, the silver candles glowing brightly”, not to mention other expenses, just “lighting up” is “burning money.”

Even Li Shimin, Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, had a deep sense of frustration in lighting the lights at night. One New Year’s Eve, the “iron-fisted emperor” had people lit the entire palace with lights and a large bonfire in the hall, intending to show off their wealth. Unexpectedly, Empress Xiao, who was in attendance at the event, vomited lightly: My dead ghost husband Sui Yang, used to light agarwood in the palace back then. At one point it was dozens of bonfires and could burn more than two hundred cars of agarwood in one night. Wood. It’s really “extraordinary and thrifty things that last different years”-you are too diligent and thrifty to keep a family!

“Light up” more at night, you can have a sense of sight to show off your wealth. Wasn’t the “nightlife” at that time “burning money” every second?

It is precisely with the advancement of ancient Chinese lamp technology that the cost of overnight living has gradually fallen: from the Tang and Song dynasties, the Chinese porcelain handicraft industry has made great strides. “Porcelain lamps” and other lamps have not only improved the craftsmanship, but also greatly reduced the cost.

Therefore, it was from the middle of the Tang Dynasty that the nightlife of ancient Chinese cities gradually enriched. The nights in Guangzhou and Yangzhou in the Tang Dynasty gradually became lively, and “Qiaoshi overnight trips for wine guests” became the nighttime norm in many big cities. In the Song Dynasty, in “super cities” such as Bianjing and Lin’an, “drinking at night” was not even a problem. “Tokyo Dream Hualu” described that every evening, the big and small shops in Bianjing city began to “photograph each other up and down”, and even “one lotus lantern was placed in the middle of every tile” on the street. The city “lights up” inside and out.

In the Song Dynasty city that “lit up”, the nightlife has been recorded in the annals of history: the entertainment activities such as “words” and “Sumo” in “Washe” are endless all night, even Song Renzong came to be “enthusiastic”. audience”. All kinds of snacks at the Zhouqiao Night Market are open until the third shift. The singing and dancing performances in the restaurant are splendid, and “Going to Fanlou with Lights in the Night” has become the favorite of Bianjing youths. Such a “metropolitan nightlife” that “destroyed by wind, rain, heat and snow” is still an eye-catching “historical business card” of the Song Dynasty to this day.

Of course, the bustling nightlife of Da Song, which is a “hungry place, all night long”, is actually limited to the “super cities” such as Bianjing, Lin’an, and Daming, while ordinary cities are still deserted. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the nightlife of many economically developed ordinary cities and towns also became rich. For example, in Qingzhen, Tongxiang County, Zhejiang Province in the Ming Dynasty, the nightlife of “must drink at night” has been quite lively since the middle of the Ming Dynasty. In the big cities, the West Lake in Hangzhou, Tiger Hill in Suzhou, Qinhuai in Nanjing, and Linqing in Shandong during the Ming and Qing Dynasties were full of teahouses and pubs, and the nightlife was a hundred times more lively than in the Song Dynasty.

For example, the Dutch mission to China during the Kangxi period clearly recorded the nightlife in Linqing, Shandong at that time. As an important town along the canal at that time, Linqing was famous for its prosperity and prosperity. Every night, all local inns and teahouses are open all night, and performances such as opera, playing and singing are lively and lively. Even the guests can enjoy the nightlife here happily by paying only six or seven yuan. This situation and circumstances have also made these Dutch people feel “really incredible.”

Having said that, although nightlife has become more common from the Tang and Song Dynasties to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it is still very rare for the farmers who accounted for the majority of the population of the dynasties. Even in the middle of the Ming Dynasty, in the economically developed southeastern region, an ordinary family of self-cultivating farmers still rarely had time for leisure. The farmers in Jiaxing, Zhejiang during the period of “Hongzhi Zhongxing” recorded in the “Jiaxing Fubu” of the Ming Dynasty were busy every year from the first month of the year. The labor tasks such as soil loosening, top dressing, and threshing were extremely heavy every month. Rice can only be eaten at noon, and the rent is paid at the end of the year.

In such a year, the days are hard and the work is heavy. Except for a night of drinking and fun at the “Sail Club” around Duanyang, you must be busy with food and clothing throughout the year. How can there be any nightlife?

However, the Ming and Qing Dynasties were also the “blowout” period of ancient Chinese agricultural development. Compared with the previous dynasties, farmers in this period, as long as they were in Taiping years, had a richer night life. The most famous entertainment project was Social drama.

She opera, also known as Saishe, is an ancient folk ritual activity every year. It developed into the Ming and Qing Dynasties and also had richer patterns in some economically developed areas. For example, in the Southern Ming Dynasty “Yingshen Competition Society”, young and old all participated, dressed as various figures on the stage, “makeup gods” and “play acrobatics”, which was very lively day and night. In Shandong Linqing’s “Yellow Spring Festival”, in addition to inviting theatrical troupes, men, women, and children will also come out to perform folk tales such as “boys pretending to be Guanyin”. The streets are full of people from day to night.

The excitement of these carnivals condensed the rich ancient folk culture, and also recorded the hardships of the ancient peasants-a year of hard work, waiting for the joy of this moment.

If we talk about these nightlife, what we see is the development of ancient economy and culture, and there are some nightlife, but they have a reflection meaning beyond history.

For example, the nightlife of Ming Dynasty scholar-officials described by the European missionary Matteo Ricci. This foreigner who has been in the “elite circle” of the late Ming Dynasty all the year round told us in his notes that the scholar-officials at the end of the Ming Dynasty had banquets almost every day. On the ship. Every piece of gold and silver utensils at the banquet is very precious, and the food is delicious and rich. In addition to booze, there is also “boating for fun.” This type of banquet usually lasts all night, and the unfinished food is rewarded to the servants. The most important one, “All expenditures are paid by the public.”

Having seen this scene, refer to Matteo Ricci’s continuous famines and deepening crises in various parts of the Ming Dynasty during the same period. The peasant uprising that swept the Ming Dynasty provided the best interpretation of the cause of the decline of the Ming Dynasty and the “hot” nightlife. How many sighs were in the wine glasses of this group of “elites”.