Guo Zhiyun 郭知運

During the Kaiyuan era (713-41 CE), Military Governor of Liangzhou Guo Zhiyun set out on an inspection tour. He had travelled a hundred li from the prefecture when he died suddenly at a postal station. His po cloud-soul then emerged, ordering the postal station chief to lock the room and not re-open it. It then returned home, [2620] where his retinue were still unaware. Reaching home after forty days, once it had wrapped up his affairs, it sent people to the postal station. They arrived to find him already dead. On arriving there, it watched him be prepared for burial, and, when this was complete, said farewell to his family, throwing itself into the coffin and never being seen again.

From Guangyiji.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), vii, 330.2619-20:


開元中。涼州節度郭知運出巡。去州百里。于驛中暴卒。其魂遂出。令驛長鎖房勿開。因而却回府。 [2620] 徒從不知也。至舍四十餘日。處置公私事畢。遂使人往驛。迎己喪。既至。自看其殮。殮訖。因與家人辭訣。投身入棺。遂不復見。出廣異記


Di Renjie 狄仁傑

During Zetian’s rule (690-705 CE), Di Renjie[1] was serving as Governor of Ningzhou. His residence repeatedly suffered inauspicious events, as more than ten people had been killed by a previous governor. When Jie first arrived, his clerk told him that the official mansion had long been ominous, nobody had dared to live there. Moreover, weeds and thornbushes had turned it into a ruin, so it was no longer habitable, so he asked that the official lodge elsewhere. Jie said: “If a governor is not to live in his residence, where else should he lodge?” He ordered that the seals be removed and the house repaired, residing there without concern. Over several nights, there were strange and grotesque events that could not be explained or controlled. Jie spoke angrily: “I am governor, and this is my residence. You may be crooked but I am straight. Why, instead of resolving this logically, do you injure the orthodox? If you are a deity, I will heed your teaching. If you are a demon, how dare you act against me? I have no fear of you in my heart, as you merely change shape. We should face one another and resolve this; why not show yourself politely?” After a short while, a man appeared wearing cap and gown, advancing to say: “Your servant was a minister at such-and-such a court, and was buried below a tree, west of the steps to your hall. A tree root has pierced through my body, and the pain I suffer is beyond endurance. Recently there have been several noble gentlemen, and I have wished to lay out my case, but all later died. Walking nether world paths, I have not yet reached my destination due to this, and if the gentleman can truly change my burial, I dare not delay this any longer.” On finishing speaking, he vanished. The next day, Jie ordered it be dug up, and indeed all was as had been described. He thus had the man reburied, and the events ceased.

[Origin omitted – the Chenchaoben states that it comes from the Guangyiji.]

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), vii, 329.2614:



[1] This is Di Renjie 狄仁傑 (630-700 CE), a highly regarded Tang-era minister, later finding fame through a fictional detective career.

Zhang Jingcang 張景藏

Director of the Central Secretariat and Duke of Hedong Pei Guangting occupied the post of Chancellor during the Kaiyuan era (713-41 CE). Zhang Jingcang was able to speak of good and bad fortune and one day he suddenly called on the duke and gave to him a single piece of paper bearing the character tai 台. The duke said: “I have been assigned to the Censorate (taisi 台司); what can this mean?” A few days later he was demoted to serve as Governor of Taizhou 台州.

From Shangshu Gushi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 77.486:



Miss Zheng 鄭氏女

In Tongzhou there lived the reclusive scholar Wang, who possessed the arts of the Way. During the Huichang era (841-47 CE), the governor, a Mr Zheng, had a young daughter, on whom he doted greatly, but who since childhood had suffered many illnesses, as if her state of mind was unbalanced. Mr Zheng therefore asked the retired scholar about it. The scholar told him: “This girl is not ill, but the living cloud-soul has not yet returned to her body.” Mr Zheng asked him further about the matter, and the scholar replied: “Magistrate so-and-so of such-and-such county is this girl’s former incarnation. He ought to die in a few years. As he has been virtuous in life he has been blessed by the underworld deities and received extra longevity. He is now over ninety years of age. On the day his passing is ordained, this girl will recover.” Mr Zheng urgently sent people to hurry over and call on him, and the Magistrate was indeed over ninety. After a month, the girl suddenly awoke as if from drunkenness, her illness quite cured. Mr Zheng again sent envoys to verify it, and indeed the magistrate, on the very day of the girl’s recovery from illness, had died without illness.

From Xuanshizhi.       

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), viii, 358.2827:



Luo Siyuan 羅思遠

The Tang-era Luo Siyuan possessed many mysterious and strange arts but was most skilled at invisibility. Minghuang (i.e., the Tang emperor Xuanzong 玄宗) [1] took pleasure in invisibility practices, so Siyuan diligently sought them out and taught him. Despite Siyuan’s instruction, he was unable to complete what was needed. Whenever the emperor [486] and Siyuan tried this together, he was unable to comprehend the concealment of people. If he tried it on himself, he would sometimes leave his robe and hat, and sometimes be betrayed by his scarf and feet. The palace attendants could always tell where the emperor was. The emperor gave him many gifts, but some were worried that this could all prove fatal and begged him to cease. In the end, not having received the whole teaching, the emperor became angry and ordered the scholar wrapped in oiled cloth, placed beneath an oil press, crushed to death and buried. Before ten days had passed, a palace official returning from Shu encountered Siyuan on the road. Mounted on a donkey, he laughed and told the envoy: “The emperor played a trick; how could he be cruel to anyone?”

From Kaitian zhuanji.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 77.485-86:


唐羅思遠多秘異術。最善隱形。明皇樂隱形之法。就思遠勤求而學之。思遠雖傳授。不盡其要。帝每 [486] 與思遠同為之。則隱沒人不能知。若自試。則或餘衣帶。或露幞頭腳。宮中人每知帝所在也。帝多方賜賚。或懼以死。而求之。終不盡傳。帝怒。命力士褁以油襆。置於油搾下。壓殺而埋瘞之。不旬日。有中官自蜀道回。逢思遠於路。乘驢而笑謂使者曰。上之為戲。一何虐也。出開天傳記

[1] Minghuang 明皇 is the posthumous name for Tang emperor Xuanzong 玄宗, Li Longji 李隆基, 685-762 CE, r. 712-56.

Du Sheng 杜生

During the Tang Xiantian era (712-13 CE), Du Sheng of Xuzhou was a skilled diviner. He reported on people who had abandoned their posts, and these was all verified, as if he were a deity. There was someone who had lost a slave and came to Du to ask about them. Sheng told him: “You only need to search along the post-road. On the way you’ll meet a courier bearing a good whip. Kowtow and beg for it. If they don’t hand it over, say with feeling that Du Sheng told you to ask for it. You will then certainly find them.” He did as he had been instructed, and did indeed encounter a courier, begging for the whip as Du Sheng had said. The envoy found this strange, and said: “I don’t grudge you the whip, but without it how could I urge on my horse? You should snap off a branch from the left side of the road to exchange, then I will hand you the whip.” When he went to break one, he spotted the lost slave hidden beneath a tree, and captured them. When asked about the matter, the slave said: “While fleeing along the road, I caught sight of the gentleman in the distance, so concealed myself here.”

When another person who had lost a slave visited Du Sheng, Sheng told them: “Return, taking five hundred cash, and wait with it on the public road. When you see an envoy bearing sparrowhawks pass by, ask to buy one. You will certainly regain the slave.” He did as instructed and waited. Presently there was an envoy with sparrowhawks, so he made his request and asked to buy one. The envoy thought this strange but cut one free to hand over. Just as he was about to take hold of it, the hawk suddenly took wing and escaped. When he went to fetch it, the slave was indeed found hiding beneath, and was captured. There who were reported on by him were numerous, but there is no space to tell of them here. From Jiwen.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 77.484:



Yuan Tiangang 袁天綱

When Tang Zetian was in swaddling clothes, the Yizhou resident Yuan Tiangang had ability as an appraiser. Shihuo[1] ordered him to appraise his wife, née Yang. Tiangang said: “The lady will bear a noble child.” He then summoned both his sons for them [480] to be appraised. Speaking of Yuanqing and Yuanshuang, he said: “Should reach the office of provincial governor but may also end in misfortune.” Catching sight of the Lady of State of Han, he said: “This girl is a great noble but will not benefit her husband.” Zetian was then nursing at the breast and was dressed in boy’s clothes. When the wet-nurse brought her forward, Tiangang took a glance and said, in great shock: “Dragon eyes and phoenix neck; the highest nobility. It is as if this girl will be lord of all-under-heaven.”

From Gandinglu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 76.479-80:


唐則天之在褓襁也。益州人袁天綱能相。士彟令相妻楊氏。天綱曰。夫人當生貴子。乃盡召其子相 [480] 之。謂元慶、元爽曰。可至刺史。終亦屯否。見韓國夫人曰。此女大貴。不利其夫。則天時在懷抱。衣男子衣服。乳母抱至。天綱舉目一視。大驚曰。龍睛鳳頸。貴之極也。若是女。當為天下主。出感定錄

[1] This is Wu Shihuo 武士彠, father of the famous Wu Zetian 武則天 (born Wu Zhao 武曌, 624-705 CE), concubine and wife of Tang Emperor Gaozong 高宗 (650-83 CE). Taking power a year after Gaozong’s death, in 690 she ruled as emperor and declared the Zhou 周 dynasty (690-705 CE), losing the throne in 705 to her son, who ruled as Tang 中宗 Zhongzong (r. 684, 705-10).

Guan Lu 管輅

Guan Lu of the Wei[1] once went to the home of Guo En. Suddenly, a turtledove flew in and landed upon the roof beam, calling very mournfully. Lu said: “There will be a guest arriving from the east to exchange greetings. Bringing meat and wine will cause a small injury.” It grew late, and someone arrived, just as he had said. En ordered the careful heating of a little wine, but then shot a hen to prepare food. The arrow flew through the fence and hit a girl of only a few years. Her blood was shed and she was very frightened.

From Weizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 76.478:



[1] This seems likely to be Guan Lu 管輅 (208-55 CE, courtesy name Gongming 公明), a celebrated geomancer of the Three Kingdoms period.

Jie Xiang 介象

Jie Xiang, from Wu, courtesy name Yuanze, was discussing chopped fish with the Prince of Wu, namely which was most exquisite. Xiang told him: “In the seas the cod 鯔魚 is the best. I request that a square pit be dug before the palace, and water drawn to fill it.” Xiang lowered a line into the pit and, after just a moment, caught a cod. He prepared chopped fish.

From Jiankang shilu.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 76.477:



Zhang Zixin 張子信

When, under the Qi, Wang Yan of Langya killed He Shikai, the Militant Guard Xi Yongluo was sitting together with Zhang Zixin in Henei when suddenly there came the sound of magpies calling, squabbling around the hall and descending into it. Zixin said: “The magpie’s call is not auspicious. If this evening a wind should come from the southwest through the trees to brush the peak of the hall, there will surely be dispute and misunderstanding. If a summons arrives tonight, you must not go.” Zixin then departed. There was indeed such a wind, and Yan’s envoy summoned Yongluo, calling him by decree. Yongluo wished to go, but his wife urged and ordered him not to leave. He thus reported that his horse had suffered an injured back [uncertain translation]. He was subsequently cleared of any charges.

From Sanguodianlüe.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), ii, 76.478: