The Spirit of Harmony 和合之神

Elder Brother Wan Hui had tousled hair, his face bore a laughing smile, his right hand held a drum, his left hand grasped the stick. Among those buying and selling in the markets of Hangzhou, and in the households of the populace, there were none who did not make offerings to him, giving at least a meal, saying that he was the spirit of harmony, and that those who offered to him even could bring people back from myriads of li in distance. Those buying and selling in business prayed to him, and none went unfulfilled, so they called him ‘ten thousand returns.’ Offerings are also made to him at the Tiezhu Temple and Wudang Peak Temple in Longxing.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.21 (Tale 393):

和合之神

萬回哥哥,蓬頭,面帶笑容,左手擎鼓,右手執棒。杭州市肆買賣及居民之家無不奉祀,一飯必祭,云是和合之神,奉祀之,可以使人在萬里之外,亦能回來。買賣經營禱之,無不應驗,故名萬回。龍興鐵柱觀側、武當山觀內亦奉祀之。

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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Xingwen Beats A Scholar 興文杖士

When Li, a county governor of Nanchang, moved the Confucius hall to the south of the county, he lifted the statue of the master but was quite unable to move it, and many of his subordinates also tried but had the same problem. There was a scholar who spoke from beside him, saying: “The gentleman should be called Zhongni” (This is another name for Confucius, but seems to be a pun, as a different zhong 重 can mean ‘heavy’, and this ni can mean ‘stop’ or ‘prevent’). Warden Li grew angry, and rebuked him with a stern countenance. When night came, in a dream the scholar was suddenly taken by two yellow-robed people to a place where in a side-room a horizontal board read ‘Xingwen’. After a little while a person sat down there and said: “You claim to be a scholar, reading the books of past sages; how can you make jokes and slight the ancient master?” He ordered the attendants to punish him with twenty strokes of the stave, and ordered that he be removed from the Confucian classicists. When he awoke he was feeble-minded, and could not recognise a single character.

Those among the present generation who treat the sagely words as jokes should indeed treat this as a warning.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.221 (Tale 392):

興文杖士

南昌李知縣遷先聖殿於縣南,舁夫子像而不能動,縱(「縱」原作「從」,據明刻本改。)人多亦如之。有一士在側曰:「夫是謂仲尼。」李宰怒,正色責之。至夜,士人忽夢被二黃衣使攝至一所,有小殿廡,扁額曰「興文」。少頃一人坐中,曰:「汝為士人,讀先聖之書,豈當戲言侮慢先聖!」命左右決杖二十,勒罷為儒。及覺如癡,自後不識一字。今世之人好引聖語之言為戲,亦當以為戒。

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).

A Deity Treats Serpent Birth 神救產蛇

The daughter in law of old man Xu Qing of Jianning Prefecture became pregnant, but went seventeen months without giving birth, so the whole family grew worried and apprehensive. It happened that a woman came to their gate, identifying herself under the surname Chen, a specialist in treating difficult birth. Xu was delighted, asking her to stay and telling Chen about the matter. She said: “This is a simple matter.” She ordered Xu to set up a chamber in a separate building of several stories, cutting an aperture in the central storey, sealing up the lower storey with boards and nails, and installing the pregnant woman in the building, where the woman Chen would also reside. Chen ordered several servants to take up staves and gather below the building, waiting to beat to death anything that fell to the ground. Chen breathed on and massaged the pregnant woman, and at dawn she gave birth to a small serpent, just over a chi (33cm) in length; as it fell from the aperture in the wall, the group of servants beat it to death. The pregnant woman was safe and sound, and the whole family raised their hands and celebrated together, offering generous gifts in thanks, but none were accepted. She did require, however, a handkerchief, on which she had them apply the characters ‘Xu so-and-so rewards the lady Chen, saviour of the pregnant.’

Chen said: “Your servant resides in such-and-such a place within Gutian County, in Fuzhou, those neighbours around are such-and-such people, and in former times they looked on me with favour, as if deceived, it is very fortunate.” She said farewell, left through the gate, and suddenly vanished; doubt and wonder persisted in their hearts about this. Later, Xu governed Fuzhou, and, remembering the incident, sent people to seek and question her neighbours, who said: “Here there is only the temple to Lady Chen; she often manifests in the world to help manage difficult pregnancies.” When examined carefully, the handkerchief inscribed by Xu could be seen hanging on the front of her statue. When they returned to report, Xu went to the temple, upgrading the lady’s titulature and ornamenting the temple [223] eaves.

All who pray in earnest for male descendants or to rescue women from dangerous pregnancies find their prayers answered, and to this day her incense and candles are especially abundant.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.222-23 (Tale 395):

神救產蛇

建寧府徐清叟子婦懷孕,十有七月不產,舉家憂懼。忽一婦人踵門,自言姓陳,專醫難產。(「難產」,明刻本作「產難」,下同。〕徐喜,留之,以事告陳婦。曰:「此易耳。」令徐別治有樓之室,樓中心鑿一竅,樓下周圍用板釘壁,置產婦於樓,陳婦同居焉。陳令備數僕持杖樓下,候有物墮地即箠死之。陳婦以產婦吹呵按摩,但見產一小蛇,長尺餘,自竅而下,羣僕箠殺之。產婦平安,全家舉手相慶,重以禮物謝之,俱不受。但需手帕一事,令其親書「徐某贈救產陳氏」數字。陳曰:「某居福州古田縣某處,左右鄰某人,異日若蒙青目,萬幸。」辭別出門,忽已不見,心常疑異之。後徐知福州,憶(「憶」原作「議」,據明刻本改。)其事,遣人尋訪所居鄰舍,云:「此間止有陳夫人廟,常化身於世救治難產。」細視之,則徐所題之手帕縣於像前。人歸以報,徐為諸於朝,增加封號,宏其廟 [223] 宇。凡有祈求男嗣及婦人難產,禱之立應,至今香火尤盛。

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).

The Thunder Deity Assigns Land 雷神分田

In West Qishi Village, in Luling, there was a field of fifty to sixty mu (a mu is about 6.7 acres), shaped like an axe. A pair of brothers were discussing its division, and the left and right of it being unequal, they argued ceaselessly, and eventually presented a case to the officials. After one or two years had passed, it was still unresolved. One day, a black cloud arose on all sides and a single strike of lightning scored a single line like that from a plough, from top to bottom, straight across the field, the mu divided as if by a carpenter’s angle, the cun (inches) entirely equal, and afterwards the brothers who owned the field abandoned and ceased their lawsuit. To this day the place is called Thunder God Field. From this it can be understood that the heavenly authorities understand earthly geometry, and that people should take this as a warning.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.222 (Tale 394):

雷神分田

廬陵之西七十里,有田約十五六畝,其形如斧,兄弟議分,左右只是不等,紛爭不已,遂訟之官。越一二年,亦無結斷。一日,黑雲四起,霹靂一聲而田中如犁畫,一條自上而下,畝角尺寸甚均,然後田主兄弟爭訟貽息。至今此處名雷公田。固知土幾何而上關造化,人亦可自警矣。

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).

A Spirit Uses Human Speech 神作人言

In the Song era, in a county belonging to Tanzhou there was a pawnbroker called Zhang Yong, who cut down a vertical post from the shrine to a spirit to reinforce the framework of a residence. The beam was finished but not yet painted. When Zhang and his dependents entered the house to look, they would often hear somebody answering them; if they asked for tea, it would say “Tea is coming.” If they asked for wine, it would say “Wine is coming.” There was nobody to be seen, but a voice could be heard. The population said this must be the spirit of the temple who had come to take the wood and secretly occupied the house, and if they could have an official of good fortune to calm and control it, they could later gradually move in successfully.

At that time a registrar called Zhao was travelling to his post, and, before entering the government hostel, stayed there for several days, and the voice temporarily stopped. Zhang then moved into the residence, but suddenly heard someone speaking again: “You had an official intimidate me, and will undergo imprisonment and come to meet me.” After that it fell silent. More than a year had passed when Zhang was summoned by a messenger from his superior and placed in charge of a prison, where he died one day, his body turning blue-black all over. When an official was appointed to investigate this, Zhang’s servant reported: “In the early morning I brought his meal, so I cooked an eel carp and sent it to him. He had only just finished eating when he tried to lie down and he died. [221] My sister-in-law once said that eel carp heads could treat illness, so the head has been preserved.” It was demanded that the head be examined, and the fish turned out to have four eyes. From this Zhang’s family understood that this must be a haunting by the spirit of the temple, and that this had cost him his life, so they decided to drop further legal proceedings.

It is well-known that four-eyed fish can kill people.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.220-21 (Tale 391):

神作人言

宋朝潭之屬縣有典押張永者,伐神廟木豎一居稍壯,構架已畢,但未粉飾。張與其眷屬入內觀看,常有人應答,如喚茶,則曰「茶來」,如索酒,則曰「酒來」,不見有人,但聞有聲。衆謂此必廟神來取木而陰據此屋,若先得官員福氣鎮壓,然後徐徐遷入為好。適有趙主簿赴任,未入官舍,先寓數日,則其聲頓失。張遂遷入屋,忽又聞有云:「你令官員嚇我,候過獄中來與你相會。」自爾寂然。越一年餘,張為上司專人追呼,置司存(上三字原作「存置司」,據明刻本改。)於獄,一日死,而遍身青黑,委官究問,則其僕供云:「早晨送飯,乃煮一鰻鯉來與押,才喫未久,求卧而死。 [221] 其嫂曾云,鰻鯉魚頭可以醫瘵,今此頭尚存。」索至看驗,魚乃四目。其眷屬自知此必廟神為祟,以戕其性命,甘願息訟。信知四目魚能殺人者也。

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).

A Female Divinity Rebukes In A Dream 女神報夢

The Noble Prime Minister Jiang Guxin (i.e. Jiang Wanli, 1198-1275), went roaming with two or three friends during his period of poverty. On reaching a temple, they saw the figure of a boy, and at the next temple, a female deity. Guxin and his friends joked together and so carried the male deity to the female divinity’s temple, saying that they were bearing the groom into his wedding. That night Guxin had a dream in which the female deity gathered the hem of her robe and started to speak: “The child is a chaste and pure spirit, following orders to receive offerings in that place. Please take the boy back to his temple, and do not sully my moral integrity. The gentleman will in future act as prime minister, so I come to report to a superior. The other three people following the gentleman will all receive some censure.” The next day he gathered his friends, and was about to tell them of this, each spoke of a dream in which the female spirit faced and rebuked them, so the gentleman held his tongue and kept his secret, carrying the boy spirit back to his temple. Subsequently the gentleman indeed ascended to the position of prime minister, but his friends all suffered serious illness, and were fortunate to avoid death.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.220 (Tale 390):

女神報夢

朱丞相江古心,微時與二三友閑行,至一廟,乃男子身,次至一廟,乃女神也。古心與諸友戲,以男子神舁至女神廟,云(「云」原作「去」,據明刻本改。)送來入贅。是夜古心夢女神斂袵而啟曰:「兒乃貞潔之神,奉命血食斯土,請舁男神歸廟,毋污我大節。公異日當揆,故來稟覆。其三人隨從公者,亦略加譴矣。」次日會諸友,方欲話及,各言夜夢女神面責,公遂隱而不言,舁男神歸廟。後公果登相位,而諸友皆患重病,幸而免死。

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).

A Household God Brings Property 家神送物

The family of Zhang Shuiyuan, of Yongfeng Stone Well in Xinzhou, served their household god with great reverence. The [lacuna] household god was an ancestor. The [lacuna] household had very little property, and later, due to the exhaustion of their property, the family prayed from dawn to dusk, hoping for assistance from the nether world. One day, when dusk was approaching, an old woman was seen walking straight in, carrying a bamboo box which she placed on a table in the ancestral hall. The family rushed out to meet her, but she was nowhere to be seen. When they looked at the portrait of a female ancestor in the ancestral hall, however, there was a close resemblance; the family were astonished and confused, and hesitated to look at the box. After a night had passed they finally opened and examined it, and all the contents were items of silver and gold. The Zhangs sold this and managed their property, and from this initial wealth became an important lineage. The old woman was their ancestress.

Among these ancestral spirits there are none who do not watch over their descendants from the nether world, cherishing people who live in ignorance, instead revering and praying to lascivious demons from dawn to dusk, calling them deities and divinities. When other people pray for their ancestors, this can be called auspicious and prosperous. If one pays no heed to one’s ancestors, failing to observe the seasonal offerings, not revering the tombs, even when there are descendants, how does this differ to the extinction of a lineage? If people can shift their reverence from lascivious demons to respectful service of their ancestors, it would not only be the Zhangs who receive protection and reward, and the deities of heaven and earth too would extend their generosity and protection.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.219 (Tale 389):

家神送物

信州永豐石井張稅院者,家事家神甚謹。[ ]家神者,祖先也。[ ]薄有貲產,後因破蕩,家人朝夕禱之,以冀陰相。一日將暮,忽見一嫗攜一小竹合子直入,置家堂中几案上,急出迎之,亦不見矣。但瞻家堂中所畫先世祖婆者如之,家人疑異,留不啟視。經宿啟視,皆黃白之物。張鬻之治產,(「產」,明刻本作 「生」。)因此貲產甲於〔一〕(據明刻本補。)族。蓋嫗者,祖婆也。夫祖宗英靈毋有不陰相子孫,惜人未之知,但朝夕奉祀淫鬼,指為神明。為他人祀祖宗,謂可徼福,反以本生祖宗置之度外,歲時不祭,墳墓不登,雖有子孫,絕嗣何異?儻能移祀淫鬼之心敬事祖宗,非惟如張氏之獲報,而天地神明亦加垂佑焉。

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).