Frogs Of The Moonlight Pool 玄陰池蛙

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and he often travelled with goods to Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed him: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian to the west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood by the poolside, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to delude people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 1.1-2 (Tale 2):

玄陰池蛙

有石憲者,其籍編太原,以商為業,常行貨於代北。長慶二年夏中於雁門關行道中,時暑方甚,因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧,蜂目,被褐衲,其狀甚異,來憲前,謂曰:「我廬於五臺山之南,有窮林積水,出塵俗甚遠,實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎?卽不能,吾見檀越病熱且死,得 [2] 無悔於心耶?」憲以時暑方盛,僧且以禍福語相動,因謂僧曰:「願與師偕往。」於是其僧引憲西去,且數里,果有窮林積水,見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之,僧曰:「此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中,且以蕩炎燠。」於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中,又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮,有一僧曰:「檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。」於是憲立池旁,羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃,有一僧挈手曰:「檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池,慎無懼。」憲卽隋僧入池中,忽覺一身盡冷,噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下,衣盡濕,而寒慄且甚。時已日暮,卽抵村舍中。至明日,病稍愈。因行於道,聞道中忽有蛙鳴,甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之,行數里,見窮林積水,有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者,其僧乃羣蛙爾。憲曰:「此蛙能幻形以惑於人,豈非怪之尤者乎!」於是盡殺之。

又見《廣記》卷四七六,題為《石憲》;《紺珠集》卷五,題為《玄陰池》;《類說》卷二三,題為《玄陰池》;《說郛》卷六。《紺珠集》、《類說》、《說郛》引均為節文。

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

The version transmitted in the Taiping Guangji varies slightly from this:

Shi Xian 石憲

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and often trading in Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed Xian, saying: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian going west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood above the pond, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to move people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all. From Xuanshizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Period of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), x, 476.3917:

石憲

有石憲者。其籍編太原。以商為業。常貨於代北。長慶二年夏中。雁門關行道中。時暑方盛。因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧。蜂目被褐衲。其狀甚異。來憲前。謂憲曰。我廬於五臺山之南。有窮林積水。出塵俗甚遠。實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎。卽不能。吾見檀越病熱且死。得無悔於心耶。憲以時暑方盛。僧且以禍福語相動。因謂僧曰。願與師偕去。於是其僧引憲西去。且數里。果有窮林積水。見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之。僧曰。此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中。且以蕩炎燠。於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中。又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮。有一僧曰。檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。於是憲立池上。羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃。有一僧挈手曰。檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池。慎無懼。憲卽隋僧入池中。忽覺一身盡冷噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下。衣盡濕。而寒慄且甚。時已日暮。卽抵村舍中。至明日。病稍愈。因行於道。聞道中忽有蛙鳴。甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之。行數里。窮林積水。有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者。其僧乃羣蛙。而憲曰。此蛙能易形以感於人。豈非怪尤者乎。於是盡殺之。出宣室志

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A Toad Emissary From Heaven 蝦蟇天使

Li Kui served as Vice-President of the Board of Rites during the Qianyuan era (758-59 CE). Once, seated during the daytime in the porch of his hall, he suddenly heard a great shaking from within the hall, as if a wall had collapsed. Kui was alarmed, and went in to investigate. He saw a toad prostrate on the floor, several chi in height, uniquely tall and quite alone. Kui was gripped by both fear and wonder, and none dared approach it. Eventually he ordered a houseboy to take a large pot and cover it. A guest said: “This toad is a thing from the moon, and is an emissary from the heavens. If a heavenly emissary comes to the gentleman’s hall, how can this not indicate the heavenly emperor’s award of a post to the gentleman?” When the next dawn broke, he removed the cover to look, but it had already vanished. Several days later, he was indeed appointed Vice-President Administrator of the Central Secretariat.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 1.1 (Tale 1):

蝦蟇天使

李揆於乾元中為禮部侍郎,嘗一日晝坐於堂之前軒,忽聞堂中有聱極震,若牆圮。揆驚,入視之。見一蝦蟇俯於地,高數尺,魁然殊狀。揆且驚且異,莫窮其來。卽命家童以巨缶蓋之。客曰:「夫蝦蟇者,月中之物,亦天使也。今天使來公堂,豈非上帝以榮命付公乎?」黎明,啟視之,已亡見矣。後數日,果拜中書侍郎平章事。

又見《廣記》卷四七四,題為《李揆》;《紺珠集》卷五,題為《蝦䗫天使》;《類說》卷二三,題為《見蝦䗫》。後二書所引均為節文。

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination) in Du yi zhi, Xuanshi Zhi 獨異志,宣室志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories, Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), edited by Zhang Yongqin 张永钦 and Hou Zhiming 侯志明 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983)

The version transmitted in the Taiping Guangji varies slightly from this:

Li Kui 李揆

Li Kui of the Tang served as Vice-President of the Board of Rites during the Qiantian era. Once, seated during the daytime in the porch of his hall, he suddenly heard a great shaking from within the hall, as if a wall had collapsed. Kui was alarmed, and went in to investigate. He saw a toad prostrate on the floor, several chi in height, uniquely tall and quite alone. Kui was gripped by both fear and wonder, and none dared approach it. Eventually he ordered a houseboy to take a large pot and cover it. Someone named Jie said: “This toad is a lifeform from the moon, and is an emissary from the heavens. If a heavenly emissary comes to the gentleman’s hall, how can this not indicate the heavenly emperor’s secret order for the gentleman?” When the next dawn broke, he removed the cover to look, but it had already vanished. Several days later, he was indeed appointed Vice-President Administrator of the Central Secretariat. Taken from the Xuanshizhi

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Period of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), x, 474.3907:

李揆

唐李揆。乾天中。為禮部侍郎。嘗一日。晝坐於堂之前軒。忽聞堂中有聱極震。若牆圮。揆驚入視之。見一蝦蟇。俯於地。高數尺。魁然殊狀。揆且驚且異。莫窮其來。卽命家童。以巨缶蓋焉。有解曰。夫蝦蟇月中之蟲。亦天使也。今天使來公堂。豈非上帝以密命付公乎。其明啟視之。已亡見矣。後數日。果拜中書侍郎平章事。出宣室志

Repairing Ships, Increasing Longevity 修船增壽

In the bingyin year of the Song Xianchun era (1266), the Administrative Inspector for Linchuan, Nuan Weidao, a scholar of Shu, reported that his region had two stony paths separated by a river whose waters ran fast and wild through all four seasons. Further down there was a deep abyss, and only at that place was it possible to cross, although year in and year out those who drowned there were very numerous, as their small boats struck rocks and sank. A person called Xu Zongren decided to build a large vessel, bound with iron plates at both ends, personally hiring punt-hands who were dedicated to serving passing travellers and committed to performing virtuous works in order to accrue merit. It happened that a Person of the Way called at his gate and praised this order, addressing Xu: “The gentleman’s lifespan is restricted to [112] thirty-two, and ends this year.” On the evening of his birthday, he dreamed that he arrived at a government office, seeing a prince seated high in the hall, with three or four hundred spirits before the gates in wet robes, who presented a scroll to the prince: “Xu Zongren has saved many lives from death, with the utmost merit; we beg that husband and wife should enjoy long life, their descendants receive glory and high rank. The multitude wait only for the Zhongyuan festival; they will then cross the worldly bounds.” The prince gestured to his retinue, and with the following words instructed Zongren: “Special Extension by three ages.” He awoke and marvelled at this. From then on he found wholehearted joy in doing good works. Two of his sons and three of his grandsons served as officials. When Zongren died, people erected a hall for offerings by the side of the crossing, and it stands to this day.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.111-12 (Tale 194):

修船增壽

宋咸淳丙寅,臨川錄參暖昧道,蜀士也,嘗言其鄉有兩石嶠夾出一江,四時皆湍急,下則深淵,惟此處可以立渡,常年溺死者甚衆,蓋船小觸石即碎。有徐宗仁發心造一巨舟,兩頭裹以鐵葉,自僱篙手,專一撐過客人,且建善緣以薦亡者。忽有道人登門稱善命,謂徐曰:「公壽止得三 [112] 十二,止在今年。」生日之夕,夢至官府,見王者坐於堂上,而門首溼衣之鬼約三四百人,執一卷投於王前:「徐宗仁濟生拔死,功德莫大,乞與夫妻壽考,子孫榮貴,衆等只俟中元,即超淨界。」 王者指左右,以此詞示宗仁,云:「特延三紀。」覺而異之。自此一心好善樂施。二子、三孫,後有為官者。宗仁死,人為立祠於渡側,至今尚存。

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 Beauty 玉兒(當是其名)

In the Taiyuan temple college there used to be a ghostly woman, who had been the concubine of Judicial Commissioner Song Danyi, but had, due to the envy of his wife, been beaten to death and buried where she fell next to the school; a mulberry tree sprouted on the spot. The spirit would sometimes enter the temple hostel, and make jokes with people; it was quite unlike a haunting. During the Dading era (1161-89 CE), there were several people staying overnight and studying in the room, and, after the third watch (i.e., at about 1am), they suddenly heard the sound of footsteps outside the window. Before long she had entered the room, going about and touching all those who slept there, saying ‘this one will pass’, ‘this one won’t pass’. Soon after, she said “Don’t be alarmed, don’t be alarmed.” When the time came, all came out as she had said.

Education Intendant Ma Chizheng reported that those sleepers were Zhao Wenqing, Duan Guohua and Guo Jizhi.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 1.12:

玉兒(當是其名)

太原廟學,舊有鬼婦人,是宋旦一提刑妾,為正室妒,捶而死,倒埋學旁,其處有桑生焉。此鬼時入齋舍,與人戲語,然不為祟也。大定中,有數人夜宿時習齋,三更後,忽聞窗外履聲,須臾,入齋,以手遍拊睡者,云此人及第,此人不及第。既而曰:「休驚休驚也。」及至後,皆如其言。

學正馬持正說,睡者趙文卿、段國華、郭及之。

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)

Providing Congee, Accruing Merit 施粥有功

Zhu Ran, of Sha County in Nanjianzhou, distributed congee as aid to the poor in years of bad harvests. He subsequently had a son who was extremely intelligent, and requested he be entered into the examinations. When the year’s results were about to be revealed, it happened that people on the street fancied they saw people running around celebrating examination success and carrying a banner bearing the four characters: “Reward for Giving Congee”. When the results were opened, his son had gained a particularly high first place.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.111 (Tale 192):

施粥有功

南劍州沙縣祝染者,遇歉歲,為粥以施貧。後生一子聰慧,請舉入學。年榜將開,忽街上人夢捷者奔馳而過,報狀元榜,手持一大旗,上書四字,曰「施粥之報」。及榜開,其子特科狀元。

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).

Giving Birth To A Dragon 產龍

In Weibo Village, Pingding, in the summer of the yisi year,[1] there was a woman named Ma who was a sorcerer, aged over fifty, and who was pregnant for more than six years, finally this year giving birth to a dragon. When the officials asked after the cause of this, the woman told them that, after remaining pregnant for three or four years without giving birth, her husband, Registrar Cao, feared that the baby had changed into a demon, so drove her away. When the birth approached, she saw people descend from a haze and array themselves before her, as if they were within a government office. One person spoke to her personally, saying, “What has been entrusted to you over several years will today depart; next year the mother will be happy indeed.” When he had finished speaking, a white-robed person took her by the arm and departed; on reaching the gate, she grew confused and lost consciousness, only reviving after a long time had passed. The people around her said that three thunderclaps had emerged from dark clouds, and a dragon had flown from the woman’s body, leaving its mother behind.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 1.6

產龍

平定葦泊村,乙巳夏,一婦名馬師婆,年五十許,懷孕六年有餘,今年方產一龍。官司問所由,此婦說,懷孕至三四年不產,其夫曹主簿懼為變怪,即遣逐之。及臨產,怳忽中見人從羅列其前,如在官府中,一人前自陳云:「寄託數年,今當舍去,明年阿母快活矣。」言訖,一白衣人掖之而去,至門,昏不知人,久之乃甦。旁人為說晦冥中雷震者三,龍從婦身飛去,遂失身孕所在。

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)

[1] This would be the forty-second year of the 60-year cycle, so in this case perhaps either 1185 or 1245 CE.

Releasing Quail, Extending Longevity 放鶉延壽

When Cai Yuanchang (i.e., Cai Jing 蔡京, 1047-1126 CE)[1] held power, he ate quail at every celebration. One evening, he dreamt that a yellow-robed old person said: “In the coming days you are to suffer murder; hopefully the gentleman may be spared this fate.” Cai asked: “What kind of person are you?” They then recited verses:

Several grains of millet could feed the gentleman;

Only meat in the congee can fill the gentleman.

For one congee several lives are cut short;

Putting down his chopsticks these are still not enough.

On the moments between mouth and stomach;

Fate and fortune are together dependent.

Wishing to warn the gentleman not to kill;

Life and death spin as if on a wheel.

He awoke and marvelled at this, making enquiries to those who prepared meals, acquiring several dozen yellow quails and releasing them. During the night he again dreamt of the yellow-robed old person, who said: “I am aware that the gentleman fulfilled the prayer, and has already saved lives. The Heavenly Emperor has now granted an extension to the gentleman’s lifespan.” Cai indeed subsequently enjoyed a long life before he passed away.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.114 (Tale 199):

放鶉延壽

蔡元長當國,每喜食鶉。一夕,夢黃衣老人曰:「來日當自被害,願公貸命。」蔡問:「汝何人?」乃誦詩云:「食君數粒粟,充君羹中肉。一羹斷數命,下筯猶未足。口腹須臾間,福禍相倚伏。願公戒勿殺,死生如轉轂。」覺而異之,詢於掌饍,得黃鶉數十,放之。經宿復夢黃衣老人曰:「感公從禱,已獲復生。今上帝已延公壽命矣。」後蔡果享高壽而卒。

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)

[1] On Cai Jing 蔡京, courtesy name Yuanchang 元長 (who died after banishment at a relatively advanced age) see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cai_Jing and the brilliant article by Charles Hartman, ‘A Textual History of Cai Jing’s Biography in the “Songshi”’, in  Emperor Huizong and Late Northern Song China: The Politics of Culture and the Culture of Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), pp. 517-64.