The Monk Da An 大安和尚

During the reign of Tang Zetian (i.e., Wu Zetian, r. 690-705 CE), there was a woman who called herself Saint Bodhisattva. Wherever a person’s mind went, this woman would always know. The Empress Dowager summoned her to court, and everything she said before and after were verified, so she was served with great respect in the palace. After several months, she came to be called the True Bodhisattva. After that the monk Da An entered the palace. The Empress Dowager asked him whether or not he had met the female Bodhisattva. An replied: “Where is the Bodhisattva? I would like to see her.” It was decreed that they should meet. The monk took on a lofty and distant demeanour. After a long pause, Dan An asked: “If you have skill in mental contemplation, try and see. Where is my mind?” The answer came: “The master’s mind is among the bells by the nine rings at the top of the pagoda.” After a little while, he asked again. She said: “Listening to the Law in the Tushita Maitreya Temple.” When he asked for a third time, he was beyond thinking or not-thinking. All were as she said. The Empress Dowager was delighted. Da An therefore placed his mind among the land of the four Arhat saints, so she would not be able to find it. Da An scolded the woman: “My mind was placed in the place of the Arhats, and you were no longer able to find it. If you were among the Bodhisattvas, how could this be the case?” The woman said she submitted, but then transformed into a female fox, descended the stairs and departed; nobody knows where she went.

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), ix, 447.3660:

大安和尚

唐則天在位,有女人自稱聖菩薩。人心所在,女必知之。太后召入宮,前後所言皆驗,宮中敬事之。數月,謂為真菩薩。其後大安和尚入宮,太后問見女菩薩未?安曰:「菩薩何在?願一見之。」敕令與之相見。和尚風神邈然。久之,大安曰:「汝善觀心,試觀我心安在?」答曰:「師心在塔頭相輪邊鈴中。」尋復問之。曰:「在兜率天彌勒宮中聽法。」第三問之,在非非想天。「皆如其言。太后忻悅。大安因且置心於四果阿羅漢地,則不能知。大安呵曰:「我心始置阿羅漢之地,汝已不知。若置于菩薩諸佛之地,何由可料!」女詞屈,變作牝狐,下階而走,不知所適。出廣異記

Zhang Jian 張簡

Teaching Assistant to the Tang Imperial Academy Zhang Jian was from Koushi in Henan. He once gave a lecture at a provincial school on ‘Selected Literature’. A fox sprite took on Jian’s form, delivered a lecture on a book, and then departed. When Jian arrived soon after, his pupils were bewildered and asked him about it. Jian was surprised and said: “The former must have been a fox sprite.” He cancelled the lecture and returned to his rooms. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The food I have just cooked is cold; why has elder brother come so late?” Jian seated himself but after waiting for a long time his food still didn’t arrive. He reproached his sister, but she said: “I didn’t see you arrive in the first place; it must have been that fox sprite. If we see it again, kill it!” He came back the next day. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The demon has just gone behind the rooms.” Jian took up a cudgel. He saw his real younger sister emerging from the toilet, and attacked her. His sister screamed “It’s me!” Jian did not believe her, and he beat her to death. When he went to ask the silk-winder, she immediately turned into a fox and departed.

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658:

張簡

唐國子監助教張簡,河南緱氏人也。曾為鄉學講《文選》。有野狐假簡形,講一紙書而去。須臾簡至,弟子怪問之。簡異曰:「前來者必野狐也。」講罷歸舍,見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「適煮菜冷,兄來何遲?」簡坐,久待不至,乃責其妹。妹曰:「元不見兄來,此必是野狐也。更見即殺之!」明日又來。見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「鬼魅適向舍後。」簡遂持棒。見真妹從廁上出來,遂擊之。妹號叫曰:「是兒。」簡不信,因擊殺之。問絡絲者,化為野狐而走。出朝野僉載

Fox Deities 狐神

Since the early Tang, many among the common folk have served fox spirits, making offerings inside their homes to request benevolence. Their food and drink is the same as that of humans. Those who served them did not share a single master. At the time there was an adage that said: ‘No successful village lacks a fox demon.’

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658:

狐神

唐初已來,百姓多事狐神。房中祭祀以乞恩。食飲與人同之。事者非一主。當時有諺曰:「無狐魅,不成村。」出朝野僉載

Traitorous And Unfilial 悖逆不孝

In the village of Cunluo, in Yangzhou, within Shu, there was a man surnamed Wang who had once turned against his father and mother. People mocked him, the officials punished him, but he would not repent. One day he became seriously ill. Nearby was a temple devoted to a powerful spirit, and this addressed him in a dream: “If you approach my hall, burn incense and promise offerings, you will recover.” The betrayer dragged his exhausted body out of bed and departed. When he fell to his knees in prostration, a great snake suddenly emerged from beneath the altar. With a red crown and a black body, it was over a zhang (3.3m) in length, and wound itself around his body, keeping its head stationary before his face and licking it all the while. He cried out to the spirit for help, swearing on his life that he would never again dare to be insolent. The snake drew back, unwound itself and departed. From then on he changed resolutely into a filial son.

The unfilial are punished by the spirits, and the nether world is indeed to be feared!

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.21 (Tale 36):

悖逆不孝

蜀洋州村落間有姓汪者,嘗悖逆其父母,人諷之,官罪之,皆不悛。一日病甚,近有威靈廟神,夢之云:「汝可來吾祠下,燒香許祭即愈。」悖逆之人扶憊而去。方跪拜間,神坐下忽有一大蛇出,紅冠黑質,長一丈餘,絞其身,仍以頭對其面而舐之。其人遂拜告於神,誓死不敢無狀,蛇方逡巡脫去。自後痛改為孝子。不孝為神所譴,冥冥間可畏也。

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)

Hostel Pavilion Spiders 館亭蜘蛛

There was a Censor called Wei Jun who was once responsible for Jiangxia. Sent back to the capital with a message, on his return journey he stopped to transact business at a hostel pavilion. He suddenly noticed a white spider descending from one of the pavilion columns, its body extremely small. Wei Jun said: “This is a danger to people. I have heard that, though small, when it bites people even good medicine has no effect.” He therefore directed that it be killed. Presently he saw another white one descending, and had it killed like the last one. Looking up beyond it he saw that the web led to a lair, so he ordered his retinue to fetch a broom and sweep it all away, and said: “I have now eliminated the threat to life.” The following day, wishing to leave, he touched the column with his hand as he passed, and felt a sharp unbearable pain; it turned out to be the bite of a white spider on the column. Wei Jun was shocked, and immediately flicked it away. It soon swelled up, and before several days had passed this affected his entire arm. Due to this he was carried to Jiangxia in a sedan chair. Physicians and medicines had no effect, and eventually his left arm was pouring blood; when his blood was exhausted he died. Before this Wei Jun’s lady mother was in Jiangxia, and dreamed that a white-robed person addressed her: “My two brothers, younger and elder, were killed by your son. I have reported to the heavenly emperor, and the emperor has avenged this injustice according to my request.” When they finished speaking, the lady awoke in shock. Marvelling greatly at it, she was too disturbed to speak. A little more than ten days later, when Wei Jun arrived and she heard the full story, she came to understand the dream, realising that the day of her vision was indeed that on which he had killed the spider in the hostel pavilion. The lady wept and said: “How can you live for long now?” Several days later Wei Jun died.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination),1.3 (Tale 4):

館亭蜘蛛

有御史韋君,嘗從事江夏,復以奉使至京,既還,道次商於館亭中。忽見亭柱有白蜘蛛曳而下,狀甚微。韋君曰:「是為人之患也。吾聞汝雖小,螫人,良藥無及。」因以指殺焉。俄又見一白者下,如前所殺之。且視其上,有綱為窟,韋乃命左右挈箒盡為盡掃去,且曰:「為人患者,吾已除矣。」明日欲去,因以手撫去柱,忽覺指痛不可忍,乃是有一白蜘蛛螫其上。韋君驚,即拂去。俄遂腫焉,不數日而盡一臂。由是肩輿舁至江夏。醫藥無及,竟以左臂潰為血,血盡而終。先是韋君先夫人在江夏,夢一白衣人謂曰:「我弟兄二人為汝子所殺。吾告上帝,帝用雪其寃,且遂吾請。」言畢,夫人驚寤。甚異之,惡不能言。後旬餘而韋君至,具得其狀,方悟所夢,覺為夢日,果其殺蜘蛛於館亭時也。夫人泣曰:「其能久乎!」數日而韋君終矣。

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:

Wei Jun 韋君

There was a Censor called Wei Jun who was once responsible for Jiangxia. Sent back to the capital with a message, on his return journey he stopped to transact business at a hostel pavilion. He suddenly noticed a white spider descending from one of the pavilion columns, its body extremely small. Wei Jun said: “This is a danger to people. I have heard that, though small, when it bites people even good medicine has no effect.” He therefore directed that it be killed. Presently he saw another white one descending, and had it killed like the last one. Looking up beyond it he saw that the web led to a lair, so he ordered his retinue to fetch a broom to remove it all, and said: “I have now eliminated the threat to life.” The following day, about to leave, he touched the column with his hand as he passed, and felt a sharp pain that he could not bear; it turned out to be the bite of a white spider on the column. Wei Jun was shocked, and immediately flicked it away. Soon the swelling grew, and before several days had passed this affected his entire arm. Due to this he was carried to Jiangxia in a sedan chair. Physicians and medicines had no effect, and eventually his left arm was pouring blood; when his blood was exhausted he died. Before this Wei Jun’s lady mother was in Jiangxia, and dreamed that a white-robed person addressed her: “I had three brothers, younger and elder, and two were killed by your son. I have reported to the heavenly emperor, and the emperor felt sympathy and agreed to my request.” When they finished speaking, the lady awoke in shock. Marvelling greatly at it, she was too disturbed to speak. A little more than ten days later, when Wei Jun arrived and she heard the full story, she came to understand the dream, realising that the day of her vision was indeed that on which he had been in the hostel pavilion. The lady wept and said: “How can you live for long now?” Several days later Wei Jun died.

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, 476.3920:

韋君

有御史韋君嘗從事江夏。後以奉使至京。既還。道次商於。館亭中。忽見亭柱有白蜘蛛曳而下。狀甚微。韋君曰。是人之患也。吾聞雖小。螫人。良藥無及。因以指殺焉。俄又見一白者下。如前所殺之。且觀其上。有綱為窟。韋乃命左右挈帚。盡為去。且曰。為人患者。吾已除矣。明日將去。因以手撫去柱。忽覺指痛。不可忍之。乃是有一白蜘蛛螫其上。韋君驚。即拂去。俄遂腫延。不數日而盡一臂。由是肩舁至江夏。醫藥無及。竟以左臂潰為血。血盡而終。先是韋君先夫人在江夏。夢一白衣人謂曰。我弟兄三人。其二人為汝子所殺。吾告上帝。帝用憫其寃。且遂吾請。言畢。夫人驚寤。甚異之。惡不能言。後旬餘而韋君至。具得其狀。方悟所夢。覺為夢日。果其館亭時也。夫人泣曰。其能久乎。數日而韋君終矣。出宣室志

Hu Daoqia 胡道洽

Hu Daoqia described himself as a man of Guangling. He enjoyed matters of music and the medical arts. His body had a foul smell, and he always used a famous fragrance to guard against it. His only fear was of vicious dogs, and he knew the date of his own death, warning his younger brother and his son: “When my breath stops bury me quickly. Do not allow dogs to see my corpse.” He died in Shanyang, but when burial preparations were complete, the coffin felt empty, and when it was opened to check, there was no sign of a body. People at the time all said he was a fox. From Yiyuan.

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), ix, 447.3656:

胡道洽

胡道洽。自云廣陵人。好音樂醫術之事。題有臊氣。恒以名香自防。唯忌猛犬。自審死日。戒弟子曰。氣絕便殯。勿令狗見我尸也。死于山陽。斂畢。覺棺空。即開看。不見尸體。時人咸謂狐也。出異苑

Good Omens 瑞應

The nine-tailed fox is a mystical animal. In terms of appearance, it is red in colour and has four feet and nine tails. It emerged from the Realm of the Green Mound.[1] Its cry is like that of a baby. Eating it will prevent a person from encountering noxious or demonic energies; it also serves a kind of poison.[2]

From Ruiyingbian.

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), ix, 447.3652:

瑞應

九尾狐者。神獸也。其狀赤色。四足九尾。出青丘之國。音如嬰兒。食者令人不逢妖邪之氣。及蠱毒之類。出瑞應編

[1] Qingqiu 青丘 was regarded as a place in the far east, beyond the seas.

[2] In this context the choice of the title ruiying 瑞應, which usually refers to auspicious portents resulting from virtuous rule, is a little confusing.