Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen
Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen Chapter 29

Chapter 29: Abolishing the Department of Music and Entertainment, and Establishing the Bureau of Artistry

The fire ignites the crimson brocade, its feeble light flickering gently.


Murong Jing’er’s face turns pale, shocked by the audacity of the young master before her. He openly starts a fire, and when she tries to put it out, Zhu Yunwen stops her.

“Are there any valuable things in the room? Take them with you.”

“You’re going to bring disaster upon yourself!”

Murong Jing’er says anxiously.

Zhu Yunwen shakes his head and says, “Take your belongings and come with me.”

Murong Jing’er looks at the burning blanket. It won’t be long before the bed catches fire, and the whole room will be engulfed. Looking at the confident and composed young master before her, Murong Jing’er sighs and walks to the side, taking out a redwood box from under a chest.

Zhu Yunwen opens the door and says to Shuangxi, “You have fifteen minutes to evacuate everyone here. Remember, not a single person should be left behind! If someone is missing, you’ll stay in the burning room.”

Shuangxi glances at the fire in the room and shivers, shouting in a high-pitched voice, “Fire! Run!”

Chaos ensues.

Some people try to extinguish the fire but are kicked out by Liu Changge.

This fire was set by the emperor. Without his permission, no one can put it out.

Zhu Yunwen stands by the railing, calmly watching people panic and flee. Many men and women are barely dressed, revealing their intimate parts. Some young masters remain composed, nodding as they look towards the direction of the fire, likely contemplating suitable poetry.

There are even elderly men in their sixties or seventies. Damn it, you’re already in such a state, why do you still come out to enjoy yourself? Aren’t you afraid of coming in standing and going out lying down?

In the room behind them, the bed catches fire.

Murong Jing’er holds the wooden box and stands next to Zhu Yunwen. From her initial shock and astonishment to her current calmness, she has nothing more to worry about.

Let it burn, and so be it.

All this place has given her is a shame, nothing good.

“You should leave. This is the Department of Music and Entertainment. If someone investigates, you’ll be at a disadvantage.”

Murong Jing’er says with concern.

Zhu Yunwen looks at Murong Jing’er and calmly says, “Let them come.”

Murong Jing’er is unsure of Zhu Yunwen’s identity, but seeing his confidence, she no longer says anything. When she lowers her head, she sees a plump middle-aged man running towards them with a group of people. He looks at the burning room and kicks a woman who is trying to escape, shouting, “Who dares to run? Get water and put out the fire!”

“It’s bad, Director Cheng is here. Run!” Murong Jing’er exclaims in surprise, urging Zhu Yunwen.

Zhu Yunwen turns around and looks at the fire, estimating that it will take a while to spread to the neighboring room. The surrounding people have scattered, so it won’t harm anyone. He feels relieved.

Fengluan(Director of the Department of Musi), a ninth-ranked official, is the seal-holding official of the Department of Music and Entertainment.

Director Cheng angrily rushes up the stairs with his men. A servant points at Liu Changge and says, “He won’t let us extinguish the fire.”

“How dare you! This is the Department of Music and Entertainment, the emperor’s domain. How dare you act so insolently! Tie him up for me!” Director Cheng shouts sternly.

Zhu Yunwen pulls Murong Jing’er back two steps and says to Liu Changge, “I’ve heard that you are skilled. Show us today?”

Liu Changge’s mouth twitches, thinking, My emperor, I’m a military man. Are you belittling me by having me deal with these hooligans? But there’s no choice. The emperor has given an order, what else can I do?

As it turns out, part-time brawlers are no match for professional fighters.

Liu Changge delivers a heavy beating, and more than ten people are already lying on the ground, wailing.

Director Cheng’s forehead breaks out in a sweat. He grits his teeth and shouts, “Even if you have some skills, you won’t escape the punishment of the law! I will report to the emperor and have you brought to justice!”

“Let’s talk about it when your report reaches the emperor.”

Liu Changge rubs his fist, not satisfied.

“Alright, the fire has started. Stop playing with him, Director Cheng, right? How many people are in the Department of Music and Entertainment? You will take that many people to the Ministry of Rites. If one is missing, your skin will hang outside the South Gate!”

Zhu Yunwen walks towards the staircase, then turns around and shouts to Murong Jing’er, who is still standing in place, “Let’s go, what are you waiting for?”

Murong Jing’er quickly follows.

Director Cheng looked at the Great Ming Security Bureau token in Liu Changge’s hand, feeling a chill run through his body. Especially when he heard Liu Changge identify himself, If Cheng Fengluan could not figure out the person before was the Emperor, he would have wasted his efforts

“Get to work.” After Liu Changge finished speaking, he followed closely behind.

Shuangxi also runs over. Zhu Yunwen gives a couple of instructions, and Shuangxi returns to Director Cheng’s side, saying, “The fire can be put out now.”

Director Cheng kicked the servant beside him a few times, shouting, “What are you standing there for? Put out the fire and evacuate the people!”

After three rooms had burned down, the fire was finally extinguished.

Director Cheng didn’t care about the damage caused by the fire, but he was anxious about the tasks that lay ahead. He organized a group of people and called out all people, young and old, from the Department of Music and Entertainment. They lined up in formation and headed toward the Ministry of Rites.

With nearly 7,000 people in the procession, it created a stir on West Chang’an Street. The garrisons of Nanjing and the Five Army Commandery also heard the commotion and immediately imposed martial law.

Xu Huizu hurriedly entered the palace, but before he reached the Chengtian Gate, he saw four people leisurely walking towards him on the street. Upon closer inspection, wasn’t that His Majesty?

“Your Majesty? What… what’s going on?”

Xu Huizu quickly stepped forward to greet them and arranged for soldiers to protect the Emperor.

Zhu Yunwen waved his hand and said, “Don’t be so nervous. No one will harm me. Let me introduce you. This is Murong Jing’er. Shuangxi, gather all the people from the Ministry of Rites. We have urgent matters to attend to tonight, and if they’re not finished, no one should expect to go home and sleep!”

Xu Huizu’s eyes widened, and he nodded respectfully to Murong Jing’er.

Murong Jing’er, feeling somewhat numb, looked at smiling Zhu Yunwen and swallowed her saliva. She quickly knelt down and exclaimed, “Murong Jing’er pays respects to Your Majesty.”

Zhu Yunwen helped Murong Jing’er up and glanced in the direction of the procession. The people from the Department of Music and Entertainment were coming in a mass, but judging from the tense atmosphere, they were probably worried about an uncertain future.

“I don’t like a hell on earth.”

Zhu Yunwen smiled and released Murong Jing’er, then said to Xu Huizu, “Arrange for maintaining order and have everyone stand in formation. Divide them into ten columns, with the front of the line reaching outside the gate of the Ministry of Rites.”

Xu Huizu agreed and organized the personnel to maintain order.

The women from the Department of Music and Entertainment didn’t know what was happening. When they saw the soldiers, some of the timid ones started crying. But after a while, they realized that the soldiers weren’t causing any trouble. They were just standing there, maintaining order, so they calmed down.

Chen Di, the Minister of Rites, Left Vice Minister Chen Xingshan, Assistant Minister Huang Guan, and other officials had already received the imperial edict and hurriedly went out to greet them. Other departments also heard the commotion and came out to investigate. When they saw the Emperor, they all kneeled and paid their respects.

Zhu Yunwen pointed to the entrance of the Ministry of Rites and said, “Set up ten tables there and prepare to register the Department of Music and Entertainment personnel under different households. Also, have the Ministry of Revenue officials come over. We’ll settle all the matters together.”

“Register under different households? Oh, Your Majesty, if it’s just one woman, we don’t need ten tables, right?”

Chen Di glanced at Murong Jing’er, who was standing next to Zhu Yunwen and smiled.

Xu Huizu’s mouth twitched. Just wait and see, you’ll be crying later.

Zhu Yunwen turned around, and the others also turned to the side. Chen Di and the officials of the Ministry of Rites looked up and saw rows of women slowly approaching. There seemed to be no less than a few hundred of them.

The procession entered the Thousand-step Corridor and gradually approached. The people in front had already reached the Ministry of Rites, but the end of the line was still not in sight.

Chen Di shivered and smiled bitterly at Zhu Yunwen.

Zhu Yunwen smiled calmly and said, “Everyone prepares yourselves. Liu Changge, send the order. Any women from the Department of Music and Entertainment who have nowhere to go or no family to rely on and are willing to enter the palace, register under the palace’s women’s households. If they want to return home, register them under farming households. If they have skills to make a living, register them under artisan households… Let them decide their own household registration.”

The officials of the Ministry of Rites were a bit dumbfounded. With so many people, how many household registrations would they have to write?

Wouldn’t that exhaust them to death?

Shuangxi brought a chair, and Zhu Yunwen sat down beside it, saying, “Murong Jing’er, you go first.”

Murong Jing’er looked deeply at him, Under Zhu Yunwen’s encouragement, then approached the table where Chen Di was sitting. She glanced back at Zhu Yunwen before saying, “Murong Jing’er, eighteen years old, from Suzhou Prefecture… Register under the palace’s women households.”

Chen Di had no choice but to carry out the registration.

Murong Jing’er looked at her new household registration and walked back to Zhu Yunwen. She knelt down and said, “Thank you for the grace of Your Majesty!”

“Thank you for the grace of Your Majesty!”

The women from the Department of Music and Entertainment all knelt and paid their respects.

The sound of their voices piled up, starting from the front of the procession and spreading to the unseen rear. Countless people watched this scene, feeling somewhat moved.

After hearing the commotion outside the palace, Ma Enhui remained silent for a while. Then she led a group of maids out of the palace and ordered eunuchs and palace maids to set up boilers outside the palace gate and prepare hot tea. She also ordered the Needlework Bureau and the Bureau of Headwear and Accessories to send a batch of warm clothing to the outside of the palace.

Although it wasn’t very cold on this autumn night, there was a slight chill in the air.

For some of the adults, it was bearable, but for the elderly and the young, it was uncomfortable.

As the Emperor, Zhu Yunwen had not considered this, but as his wife, how could Ma Enhui not be more considerate?

Ma Enhui had the Inner Palace supervisors vacate more than 300 rooms and temporarily accommodate the women registered under the palace’s women’s households. As for those registered under other households, they were temporarily arranged in the Department of Music and Entertainment. Tomorrow morning, they would be given a resettlement allowance, and they could leave on their own.

In an instant, the people of Nanjing City were moved. The names “Holy Emperor” and “Holy Empress” entered the hearts of the people as they cheered.

On the 17th day of the eighth month in the 31st year of the Hongwu reign, Zhu Yunwen abolished the Department of Music and Entertainment, and established the Bureau of Artistry, with Murong Jing’er as the chief supervisor.

That day, a total of 4,216 courtesans were disbanded, leaving 2,600 behind. They were incorporated into the Bureau of Artistry and responsible for various performances such as dance, music, and acrobatics, under the jurisdiction of the Inner Palace.

Chang’an Palace.

Ma Enhui sat at the desk, constantly rolling her eyes at Zhu Yunwen. When the maids asked what she wanted to eat for lunch, Ma Enhui’s face turned bitter as she said, “What else can we eat? Just make some Wotou[1]Wotou or wowotou, also called Chinese cornbread, is a type of steamed bread made from cornmeal in Northern China. and barely make do for the two of us.”

Zhu Yunwen felt helpless and instructed the maids to proceed as usual. He said to Ma Enhui, “Is it really necessary?”

Ma Enhui snorted and said, “You really don’t understand anything as the head of the household. You don’t know how expensive firewood and rice are. The Bureau of Artistry alone has 2,600 people, which means 2,600 mouths to feed. In previous years, there were only little over 8,000 palace maids, and it cost nearly 300,000 taels of silver a year. Now with so many more people, how are we going to handle this expense?”

“That is a problem,” Zhu Yunwen frowned, looking at Ma Enhui seriously. “How about we have Wotou for lunch?”

“…” Ma Enhui was speechless.

Dear Readers, Sproutling here translating Ming Dynasty: Reborn as Zhu Yunwen, If you have enjoyed my translation and would like to show your support. Please consider donate to my Ko-Fi (Click here) page. Your help mean so much to me, Thank you in advance!


1 Wotou or wowotou, also called Chinese cornbread, is a type of steamed bread made from cornmeal in Northern China.

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