The historic Pu Songling Museum, located in the picturesque city of Zibo in East China’s Shandong Province, experienced an unexpected surge in interest. This rush of enthusiasm was sparked by the immense popularity of the song “Luocha Haishi”, which drew inspiration from a story present in the iconic collection “Liaozhai Zhiyi”, or “Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio”. This revered collection was penned by the renowned Qing Dynasty novelist, Pu Songling.
A song, especially one with deep cultural roots, has the potential to create cultural phenomena. And “Luocha Haishi” did just that, leading to a widespread “Liaozhai fever” throughout the nation. The fascination with the song wasn’t confined to its melody; it extended to its rich historical and cultural backdrop. The song, crafted by the gifted singer-songwriter Dao Lang, garnered an astonishing 8 billion plays across diverse social media platforms. Its associated hashtag attracted a staggering 360 million views on the prominent social media platform, Douyin. This musical masterpiece artfully weaves together Chinese folk and ethnic stories, adapted from a “Liaozhai Zhiyi” narrative. The story delves into the captivating journey of a merchant in the distant Luocha kingdom, a place where conventional notions of beauty are flipped, and ugliness is revered.
Recognizing the burgeoning public interest and the subsequent demand to delve deeper into Liaozhai culture, the management of the Pu Songling Museum made a decision. Despite initial plans to unveil the museum to the public on August 15, they chose to partially open their doors earlier on August 4. This choice, they communicated via their official Wechat account, was made to cater to the swelling numbers of Liaozhai culture aficionados, while ensuring the safety of both the cultural relics housed within and the visitors.
While interest in the museum skyrocketed, with bookings fully claimed for the immediate days following the opening, the museum’s journey to this point wasn’t devoid of challenges. During the ongoing repair and restoration processes leading up to the planned opening, the team encountered several unforeseen issues. These complications, coupled with adverse weather conditions like high summer temperatures and rain, impacted the progression of the repair works.
The museum’s roots trace back to the Pu Songling residence management committee. It was only in 1980 that the Zibo Municipal People’s Government sanctioned its transformation into the Pu Songling Museum. Among the treasured artifacts in the museum, a portrait of Pu Songling stands out. This exquisite piece, painted in 1713 by the illustrious Qing Dynasty painter Zhu Xianglin, serves as a testament to the lasting legacy and cultural significance of Pu Songling’s contributions to Chinese literature.