Wang Chengzhi 王騁之

The wife of Wang Chengzhi, from Langxie, was from the Xie clan of Chen Prefecture. She gave birth to a son, whose childhood name was Nuzi. After a year had passed, Wang summoned one of his wife’s maids to advance as his concubine. Xie fell ill and died in the eighth year of the Yuanjia era (431 CE). Wang’s graveyard was in Guiji, so she was temporarily interred on the eastern ridge at Jiankang. After the burial, when they had completed the fanyu funerary rite, he returned quickly by sedan chair. He was leaning on a table when he was pushed from the empty air and shoved over onto the floor. An angry voice then spoke: “Why did you not sing my lament? Do you order me to depart in silence?” Chengzhi replied: “It is not a permanent burial! The rites are therefore not complete.”

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 325.2577:



Suo Yi 索頤

The father of one Suo Yi, who lived in Xiangcheng under the Liu Song (420-79 CE), did not believe in the strange or the monstrous. There was an ill-fated house, where residents always died, but which his father quickly bought to live in. For many years there was calm and good fortune, and his descendants prospered as he served as a ‘two thousand bushel’ official.[1] He then received an official transfer. Before he departed, he invited relatives near and far to gather for food and wine to see him off. Yi’s father then told them: “Is there, in the end, good or bad luck under heaven? This place has been called cursed, but since we have resided here there have been many years of peace and good fortune. Moreover, now we have gained promotion; where are these spirits? From now on, this residence will be known for good luck, and we will dwell without suspicion.”

On finishing this speech, he went to the toilet. Before long, he saw a thing emerging from the wall. About the size of a rolled mat, it was a little over five chi tall (c. 1.5m). Yi’s father went back, took up a blade, and hacked at it. It stopped, then turned into two people. He hacked at it again, horizontally, and it became four people. They then wrested the blade away from him, hacking back against Suo, and killing him. Taking up knives they reached the raised seating area and stabbed his children and grandchildren to death. Killing all of those named Suo, only those with other family names were spared.

Yi, who was then only young, was scooped up by his wet nurse and taken out through a rear gate, hiding with another family, and he alone survived. Yi’s courtesy name is Jingzhen, and he rose to occupy the post of prefectural chief in Xiangdong.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 324.2575-76:


[2576] 宋襄城索頤。其父為人。不信妖邪。有一宅凶。居者輙死。父便買居之。多年安吉。子孫昌盛。為二千石。當徙家之官。臨去。請會內外親戚。酒食既行。父乃言曰。天下竟有吉凶否。此向來言凶。自吾居之。多年安吉。又得遷官。鬼為何在。自今以後。便為吉宅。居無嫌也。語訖如廁。須臾。見壁中有一物。為卷席大。高五尺許。頤父〈賾父二字原空闕。據黃本補。〉便還取刀斫之。中斷。便化為兩人。復橫斫之。又成四人。便奪取刀。反斫索。殺之。持刀至座上。斫殺其子弟。凡姓索必死。唯異姓無他。頤尚幼。乳母抱出後門。藏他家。止其一身獲免。頤字景真。位至湘東太守。出法苑珠林

[1] ‘Two thousand bushel’ (er qian dan 二千石) refers to the official salary paid in grain to prefectural officials.

Cui Maobo 崔茂伯

The daughter of Cui Maobo married one Pei Zu’er. Her husband’s home was more than five hundred li distant, and after several years had passed she had still not arrived there. During the eighth month, she died suddenly. Pei was not yet aware of this when, as darkness was about to fall, the woman appeared at Pei’s gate, clapping her hands and requesting entry. Carrying a gold jar a little over two sheng (2 litres) in size, she came to his bed and stood before it. Pei told her to sit, and asked where she had come from. The woman told him: “I am the daughter of Cui, Magistrate of Qinghe. While still young I learned of the gentleman’s betrothal to me. Unfortunately I passed away, so our happy union was not to be. Although our wedding feast will never take place, we are already united in purpose, and I therefore came to inform the gentleman.” She then presented Pei with the gold vessel as a parting gift.

After she had departed, Pei informed his father of the matter. His father wanted to send a message to confirm this, but Pei said: “Betrothed to the Cuis as a child, we should not now react like this. I should go there in person.” His father permitted this. When Pei arrived, the woman had indeed been buried, so they exchanged condolences, and Pei described the whole affair, bringing out the jar to show Maobo. This had been placed with the woman in her grave, so they all went to visit the tomb. More than ten li before they arrived, Pei saw the woman again, and she spoke to him. Those around him all heard her voice, but were unable to see her form. Pei yearned to be united with her, and soon fell ill and died. They were buried together.

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, 324.2574:



Liu Juan 劉雋

At the beginning of the Yuanjia era (424-53 CE), the Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary Liu Juan, whose home was in Danyang, once encountered a sudden shower of rain.[1] Before his gate he saw three small boys, all perhaps six or seven sui (five to six years old), joking around together, their faces not, however, getting damp. Presently, he saw them tussle over a large gourd pot. Juan took up a pebble and threw, hitting the pot squarely. The boys suddenly vanished, so Juan took up the pot and hung it by his office. The following day, a woman entered his gate, picked up the pot, and started to weep. When Juan asked her why, she replied: “This belonged to my son. I don’t know how it got here.” Juan told her what had happened, and the woman took the pot and buried it before her son’s grave. After a day had passed, another small boy arrived carrying it before the gate. Lifting the pot, he smiled at Juan and said: “My pot has been returned to me!” As soon it had finished speaking it disappeared.

From Youminglu.

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, 324.2571:



[1] On the rank of Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary (sanjichangshi 散騎常侍), see Hucker, Dictionary, p. 395.

Qu Jingzhi 區敬之

In the first year of the Liu Song Yuanjia era (424 CE), Qu Jingzhi, who was from a Nankang County barracks household, boarded a boat with his son to travel upstream from the county. Threading deep into small streams, they reached wild and difficult territory where humans had never before set foot. In the evening they climbed the bank and found a place to spend the night, but Jingzhi suffered a sudden illness and died. His son kindled a fire and guarded the body. Suddenly he heard the distant sound of a voice, calling out “Uncle!” The filial son was suspicious and alarmed, but in the blink of an eye the shouting person was [2571] right there. About as tall as a human, it was covered in hair, right down to its feet, and a great deal of hair covered its face, leaving the seven apertures[1] quite invisible. It then asked the filial son his family and given names, and gave its condolences. The filial son was terrified, and assembled his firewood into a blaze. The thing told him it had come to offer sympathy, and that there was no reason to be afraid. He was about to feed the fire higher, when the figure sat by the corpe’s head and began to wail. When the boy stole a glance at it in the firelight, he noticed that the thing’s face covered the dead man’s, and that the corpse’s was split open down to the very bone. The filial son was horrified, and wanted to strike it, but had no stave or weapon. Before long, his father’s corpse was reduced to a succession of white bones, the skin and flesh having entirely vanished. He never worked out what kind of deity or spirit it was.

From Shuyiji.

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, 324.2570-71:


南康縣營民區敬之。宋元嘉元年。與息共乘舫。自縣泝流。深入小溪。幽荒險絕。人跡所未嘗至。夕登岸。停止舍中。敬之中惡猝死。其子燃火守尸。忽聞遠哭聲。呼阿舅。孝子驚疑。俛仰間。哭者已 [2571] 至。如人長大。被髮至足。髮多蔽面。不見七竅。因呼孝子姓名。慰唁之。孝子恐懼。遂聚〈遂聚二字原空缺。據明鈔本補。〉薪以燃火。此物言故來相慰。當何所畏。將須燃火。此物坐亡人頭邊哭。孝子於火光中竊窺之。見此物以面掩亡人面。亡人面須臾裂剝露骨。孝子懼。欲擊之。無兵杖。須臾。其父尸見白骨連續。而皮肉都盡。竟不測此物是何鬼神。出述異記

[1] The ‘seven apertures’ qiqiao 七竅 are the two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and a mouth.

He Siling 賀思令

He Siling, of Guiji, was skilled at playing the qin zither. One night he was sitting in the moonlight facing into the wind and playing music, when he suddenly saw a person of extremely large stature, bearing shackles and wearing a sorrowful countenance. When this man arrived in the courtyard, he praised the playing and they spoke a while. He introduced himself as Ji Zhongsan,[1] and told He: “The gentleman’s hand movements are extremely rapid, but do not yet conform to the ancient rules.” He then gave instruction on the ‘Guanglingsan’,[2] and He thus achieved mastery in this. The manifestation then ceased.

From Youminglu.

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, 324.2569:



[1] Ji Zhongsan 嵇中散, also known as Ji Kang 嵇康, courtesy name Shuye 叔夜 (223-62 CE), a famed musician and Daoist poet active under the Wei 魏 (220-65 CE), was executed by the minister Sima Zhao 司馬昭 (211-65 CE).

[2] ‘Guanglingsan’ 廣陵散 was an air famously played but not explained or taught by Ji Zhongsan 嵇中散.

Zhu Huichi 竺惠熾

[2569] The śramaṇa Buddhist monk Zhu Huichi, who lived in the Siceng Monastery in Jiangling, died in the second year of the Yongchu era (421 CE). Seven days later, the disciples all gathered and stepped outside the monastery, leaving behind only one monk, Ming Dao, who had previously fallen ill. Suddenly Ming saw Huichi, who told him: “Previously, in life, I was unable to abstain from meat-eating. Now I am fallen to the starving dog hell, to make me understand the consequences.”

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), vii, 324.2568-69:


[2569] 沙門竺惠熾。住江陵四層佛寺。以永初二年卒。葬後。弟子七日會。舉寺悉出。唯僧明道先患病。獨停。忽見惠熾。謂明曰。我生不能斷肉。今落餓狗地獄。令知有報。出異苑

Qin Shu 秦樹

The house of Qin Shu, of Pei Prefecture, was in Xiaoxin Village, within Qu’e. He was once returning from the capital, and was still more than twenty li distant when the sky darkened and he lost his way. In the distance he saw the light of a fire, so headed towards it. Eventually he saw a woman emerge holding a candle, but she told him: “I am a woman living alone, and may not invite guests to stay.” Shu said: “I need to get back to the road, but lost my way in the depths of night and was unable to go on. Please let me stay out here.” The woman assented to this. Shu then advanced and sat down, and it became clear that his host was indeed alone in a single room. Shu worried that her husband might come, and did not dare to sleep. The woman said: “Why be so suspicious? Keep calm. We should not suspect one another unjustly.” She laid out food for Shu, all of which was extremely old-fashioned in style. Shu said: “The lady has not yet married. I too have not yet married, and wish to marry. Could we be united?” The woman laughed: “Look at your servant’s lowly status; how could we possibly be man and wife?” She then withdrew within for the night. Around dawn Shu departed, and they clasped hands in parting. The woman said: “I have seen the gentleman once, but will never show my face again.” She then gave him a ring, which he tied to his belt, and saw him out through the gate. Shu walked hurriedly away for several paces with his head down. When he turned to see the place where he had stayed, it was just a tomb. For several days he forgot about the ring, but there it was tied up in his belt as before.

From Zhenyilu.

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, 324.2568:



Dai Chengbo 戴承伯

During the Yuanhui era (473-77 CE), Dai Chengbo of the [Liu] Song bought into the Pipa Temple under the jurisdiction of Xingzhou. His inscribed tablet erroneously claimed an empty plot to the east as his residence. At nightfall he suddenly heard the sound of angry cursing and, getting up to look, saw a person of remarkably odd shape. When Chengbo questioned him, he replied: “My surname is Xi, and I’m the one who originally dwelled here. How can the gentleman wrest it away from me?” Chengbo said: “Dai Jin sold the land; I do not deserve blame.” The spirit replied: “Benefitting self, harming others; what has this to do with Jin? If you do not leave quickly, I will have to inform the Magistrates.” On finishing speaking, it vanished. Chengbo was stubborn by nature, and refused to move for it. Within ten days, he had succumbed to a sudden illness and died.

From Zhugongjiushi.

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, 323.2566:

戴承伯 宋戴承伯。元徽中。買荊州治下枇杷寺。其額乃悞東空地為宅。日暮。忽聞恚罵之聲。起視。有人形狀可怪。承伯問之。答曰。我姓龔。本居此宅。君為何強奪。承伯曰。戴瑾賣地。不應見咎。鬼曰。利身妨物。何預瑾乎。不速去。當令君知。言訖而沒。承伯性剛。不為之動。旬日。暴疾卒。出渚宮舊事

Zhu Tai 朱泰

Zhu Tai’s home was in Jiangling. During the [Liu] Song Yuanhui era (473-77 CE), he fell ill and died, but before he could be buried he manifested and took visible form. Returning to sit beside his corpse, he comforted his mother, and the gathered throng all saw him. Indicating the items laid out to accompany him to the grave, a matter in which he followed a frugal ideal, he asked his mother: “Our family is relatively poor, and now Tai has died, and can no longer offer support. How can so much be expended on a burial?”

From Shuyiji.  

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, 323.2565: