A Huge Serpent Spits A Pearl 巨蛇吐珠

A country woman surnamed Huang from Qinzhou once found rays of bright light shining out of her grain store at night; people marvelled greatly at it. One day, Huang took out the grain to dry in the sun, and saw among it a great snake coiled up in there, which spat out a round object emitting dazzling rays. When the serpent leapt up and departed, she picked up the object, which turned out to be a pearl. She held it close and returned. That night her room was  filled with light, and the neighbours reported the matter to the local officials. Because the officials pursued the matter rather urgently, the woman became alarmed. She therefore hid the pearl in a steamer basket and it was cooked. Afterwards its bright gleam faded to dullness. A scholar she later encountered said: “This was a snake pearl; had it not been cooked in the steamer its value would have been boundless!”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.66 (Tale 114):

巨蛇吐珠

欽州村婦黃氏,禾屋內夜有光芒現,人甚訝之。一日,黃婦取禾曬曝,見禾中有一巨蛇蟠屈於彼,口吐一圓物,光耀奪目。蛇躍而出,婦拾而視之,乃一珠,懷而歸之。是夜滿室光耀,鄰右以其事首官,官司追索稍緊,其婦驚懼,以珠於甑內蒸過,遂晦而不明。後遇識者乃曰:「此蛇珠也,若不蒸過,則價無限矣!」

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Chang Zhenguo 常振國 (ed), Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), and Anon., Jin Xin 金心 (ed.), Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi 湖海新聞夷堅續志 (Continuation of Records of the Listener with New Items from the Lakes and Seas) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986).

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Author: Geoff Humble

Hobby translator of mosty 14th century Chinese texts. Enjoys strange tales. Image is my doodle based on an element within this work: http://archive.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/object.php?q=fsg_F1938.4

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