Game Pieces and Needles in the Flesh 肉有棋針

Long ago the reclusive scholar Kuai Liang said: “An acquaintance was suffering from a tumour on the forehead; the physician, having cut it open, found a qi (a chess-like game) piece of black stone; even when struck with a heavy axe it could not be damaged. Again, there was one whose shin grew into a tumour; because, having been bitten by a ferocious dog on arriving at a relative’s place, it gnawed directly at the growth, inside it they found more than a hundred acupuncture needles, all suitable for use; the illness cleared up too.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.228 (Tale 409):

肉有棋針

昔處士蒯亮言:其所知額角患瘤,醫為剖之,得一黑石棋子,巨斧擊之,終不能缺。復有足脛生瘤者,因至親戚處為獰犬所齚,正齧其瘤,其中得針百餘枚,皆可用,疾亦愈。

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).

Advertisements

A Ghostly Hand Through the Window 鬼手入窗

As a youth, Liang, Duke Ma, the Junior Guardian[1] was once reading a book beneath a lamp and close to a window, when suddenly a great hand like a door leaf pushed through the lattice into the window. The next night it came again, but the gentleman moistened his writing brush in orpiment water, and wrote his signature in large script. From outside the window came a loud call: “Wash it off for me quickly, then you won’t come to harm.” The gentleman paid no attention but went to bed. Before long it had become very angry, seeking with ever more urgency to wash it away, but the gentleman paid no attention. Just before dawn, it made plaintive wails and was quite unable to withdraw its hand, saying: “The gentleman will be a great noble, I was just testing the gentleman; how can the gentleman bear my extremity? Can the gentleman alone be unaware of the affair of Wen Jiao and the rhino horn?”[2] The gentleman then came to a sudden realisation, washing away his signature with water, and the hand then shrank and withdrew; he looked but there was nothing to see.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.237 (Tale 427):

鬼手入窗

馬少保公亮少時,臨窗燭下閱書,忽有大手如扇,自櫺窗穿入。次夜又至,公以筆濡雌黃水,大書花押,窗外大呼:「速為我滌去,不然禍及於汝。」公不聽而寢。有頃怒甚,求為滌去愈急,公不之顧。將曉,哀鳴而手不能縮耳,曰:「公將大貴,姑以試公,公何忍致我極地耶!公獨不見溫嶠然犀事乎!」公大悟,以水滌去花押,手方縮去,視之亦無所見。

[1] The biography of Ma Liang 馬亮, courtesy name Shuming 叔明, is found at Songshi 298.9915-17. The Huhai account is considerably abbreviated compared to a previous (Song-era) telling. Compare Zhang Shizheng 張師正, Kuoyizhi 括異志 (Inclusive Reports on Strange Matters) (Project Gutenberg version):

Junior Guardian Ma 馬少保

The Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent Duke Ma Liang himself related that in his youth he studied at a Buddhist monastery outside the walls of Luzhou. One night, when reading beneath a lamp close to a window, there was a huge hand like a door leaf that extended before him, as if on a great rope. The gentleman did not look at it, but continued to peruse his books as before. The same happened night after night. The gentleman thus told people, and a Daoist priest said: “I have often heard that spirirs fear red orpiment; you should try to get rid of it with that.” He thus ground red orpiment and soaked it in water, then secretly placed it close by on a table. That evening, when the huge hand arrived again, the gentleman used a brush moistened in red orpiment and wrote on it the single large character cao (‘grass’). When he had finished writing, a great yell came from outside the window: “Wash it off quickly, if not, misfortune will reach you!” The gentleman carried on as before, not listening, and then, leaving the lamp, went to bed. Before long it became extremely angry, and demanded all the more urgently that it be washed off; the gentleman did not respond. As dawn arrived, its cries became ever more plaintive, but it could not withdraw, so spoke again: “The gentleman will be greatly distinguished; I won’t scare other people; I only wanted to joke, but offended the gentleman; how can you stand to see me so extremely terrified? I have certainly caused offence, but, if the conditions of the nether world are revealed to the world through the gentleman’s action that will not be to the gentleman’s profit. Is the gentleman alone unaware of Wen Jiao’s burning the rhino horn to light cow island?” The gentleman, coming to a sudden realisation, then washed off the ‘grass’ character with water, and warned the creature not to return and bother people in future; the monster yielded gratefully and departed. The Jinshi scholar Wei Tai reported that Duke Ma had often spoken of this to his grandfather.

馬少保

太子少保馬公亮自言:少肄業於廬州城外佛寺,一夕,臨窗燭下閱書,有大手如扇自窗伸於公前,若有所索。公不為視,閱書如故,如是比夜而至。公因語人,有道士云:「素聞鬼畏雄黃,可試以辟之。」公乃研雄黃漬水,密置案上。是夕大手又至,公遽以筆濡雄黃,大書一「草」字。書畢,聞窗外大呼曰:「速為我滌去。不然,禍及與汝!」公雅不為聽,停燭而寢。有頃,怒甚,而索滌愈急,公不應。逮曉,更哀鳴而不能縮,且曰:「公將大貴,我且不為他怪,徒以相?而犯公,何忍遽致我於極地耶?我固得罪,而幽冥之狀由公以彰暴於世,亦非公之利也。公獨不見溫嶠犀照牛渚之事乎?」公大悟,即以水滌去「草」字,且戒他日勿復擾人,怪遜謝而去。進士魏泰言馬公嘗說於其祖云。

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27092/27092-0.txt (accessed 21/01/18)

[2] This refers to the account in the Jinshu 晉書 biography for Wen Jiao 溫嶠 (288-329 CE, courtesy name Taizhen 泰真), which relates his death to his exposure of water spirits by illuminating them with a burning rhino horn, and a subsequent warning about such behaviour in a dream. The biography is found at Jinshu 67.1785-96, and the incident at 67.1795.

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 Knocks at Physicians’ Doors 鬼扣醫門

Long ago in the capital several friends among the scholars of a government school were strolling beneath the moon when they saw a page boy bearing a red gauze lamp and leading, with a woman walking very slowly behind. The scholarly friends, having suspicions about the strange sight of a woman walking alone so late at night, so they followed and observed her. Reaching the left side of Zhong’an Bridge, she knocked on the gate of the physician Zhang Fangyu and called on him for medicine. Zhang opened the door and saw her, then shut [237] it without admitting her. Next she knocked on Superintendant Li’s shop; Li came out and looked, then invited her in and went to feel her pulse. The scholar friends waited for a long time but she did not emerge, so they memorized the positions of the two physicians’ gates and went home. The next morning they called on Zhang Fangyu, who said: “Walking alone late at night, she couldn’t be the daughter of an honourable household, so she was turned away.” They then visited Li’s shop, and heard the sound of weeping and wailing coming from his household; asking them, they were told: “Last night a woman knocked on the door for a medical consultation, and after she left he had a stroke and died.” They then knew that it had been a ghost taking the shape of a woman, knocking on doors and seeking medicine. It can only be that Li saw her beauty and then ended up like this.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.236 (Tale 426):

鬼扣醫門

昔京庠有士友數人步月夜行,見有(「有」,明刻本作「一」。)小廝持紅紗籠前導,一婦人冉冉後隨,士友疑其暮夜獨行之異,跡而視之。至衆安橋左側,扣內醫張防禦門謁藥。張啟戶視之,即掩 [237] 門不納。次扣李提點鋪,李出視,延入,遂為診脈。士友俟久不出,默識兩醫之門而歸。次早訪張防禦,曰:「暮夜獨行,必非良家子女,所以卻之。」次過李鋪,聞其家有哀哭聲,問之,則曰:「昨夜一婦女扣門謁藥,去後中風而卒。」方知鬼化為婦,扣門求藥。豈非李見其美麗,動興而致然爾。

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 Steals Mantou 鬼偷饅頭

The Xiang household of Yongjia was occupied by a spirit; sometimes this thing, shaped like a person with disheveled hair, appeared and disappeared across their home, and called itself ‘Grand Duke’. The Xiangs thought this normal, and did not recognise its anomalous nature. Whatever they wanted, they had only to call to the Grand Duke in the kitchen, and that thing would then appear. When Xiang’s wife became pregnant, she wished to eat a plain meal of mantou steamed buns, and so called to the Grand Duke, and he appeared after the second watch (9-12pm) bearing a steamer layer of piping hot mantou, spreading warm vapour. Several days later, news spread that people at the Qichi ferry crossing were missing a steamer layer of mantou from a festival of offerings to earth and water. Later, Xiang’s wife gave birth to a child; it lacked eyebrows and eyes, but had a mouth and could suckle; first she wanted to drown it, but suddenly heard the Grand Duke speak out of thin air: “The child must not be drowned; feed it for the time being, and soon there will be reason for gratitude.” After more than two months had passed, Mrs Xiang was cuddling the baby on her bed, when the Grand Duke suddenly placed two silver tablets on the bed, seized the child and left; afterwards this strangeness stopped.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.236 (Tale 425):

鬼偷饅頭

永嘉項家為邪神所據,時有一物,人形而蓬首,出沒其家,自呼曰「大公」。項以為常,不為怪異。凡有所求,只於廚間呼大公,物則隨至。項妻有孕,想齋饅頭食,遂叫大公一聲,至二更餘,捧一層蒸饅頭而來,蒸氣尚暖。越數日,人傳七尺渡頭人家設水陸齋,失了饅頭一層。後項婦生一子如冬瓜狀,無眉目,但有口能乳,方欲溺之,忽聞大公空中作聲曰:「子不可溺,權以乳哺,當有以謝。」踰兩月,項婦方抱子在牀,忽大公置白金二笏於牀,奪抱此子而去,後其怪亦息。

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).

Spirits Drink in the Watchtower 鬼飲譙樓

Vice Minister Yue Ke, the grandson of Wu Mu,[1] administered Jiaxing Fu. For several nights the drums in the watchtower failed to sound, so he reproached those charged with the night watch, who said: “Each night when the watches start, there are [236] five people who go to the tower to drink, their dishes and utensils all gold and silver, spreading out rare delicacies. They say they are relatives of the Vice Minister, so we dare not sound the watches.” The prefectural chief commanded that they return that evening and report back in secret. That night the chief sat in the Qingxiang building, ordering that two Record-Keepers bring his seal of office before him, and chose twenty seasoned soldiers, each fully armed and waiting at the foot of the tower. At midnight the watch drummers came to report, saying that the drinking party was taking place in the watchtower. The chief’s Record-Keeper took up his seal of office and stood before them, saying: “Vice-Minister Yue, Governor of Jiaxing Fu, wishes to meet you.” The five people then scattered in alarm. The governor sat among them, picking up and inspecting the utensils; all were real silver and gold, and he ruled that they be confiscated for public use in the government stores, and the demonic incidents then stopped.

[1] This probably refers to Song general Yue Fei 岳飛 (1103-42), famed for his resistance to the Jin, who received the posthumous title Wumu. See Songshi, 365.11375-95.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.235-36 (Tale 424):

鬼飲譙樓

岳侍郎珂,武穆之孫,知嘉興府。譙樓數夜更鼓不鳴,責問直更者,曰:「每夜一更時分,有 [236] 五人到樓飲酒,皆金銀器皿,羅列珍味,稱係侍郎親眷,所以不敢打更。」太守分付,謂今晚再來,當密通報。是夜太守坐清香樓,命提控官兩人攜府印來前,擇精兵二十人,各執器械在樓下伺候。中夜直更者果來報,謂正在譙樓飲酒。守令提控攜印而前曰:「知嘉興府岳侍郎請相見。」其五人者即為驚散。守據中坐,取視器皿,皆真金銀器,判付公使庫公用,邪魅遂息。

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 Opens A Pawnshop 鬼開典庫

During the Song Xianchun era (1265-75), from among the residents of Dashi Village a ghostly monster came forth to seize a small building and revealed itself on top of it. Having a hairy head as its body, it called itself Old Uncle, often trading goods with people as a pawnbroker, holding myriad types of clothing and utensils against loans which were made in copper cash. People came to the foot of the house and called “Old Uncle”, at which he would reply to stand before the house, taking the items pawned and tossing them away, then flinging down cash; taking items for mortgage in this way became commonly accepted. This continued for several years, but then a Buddhist priest arrived there in his roaming, heard of this strange matter, and took his seal of Buddha-truth to the foot of the building and threw it to the top. He heard a single thunderclap, and the ghost disappeared.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.235 (Tale 423):

鬼開典庫

宋咸淳年間,䃮石村人有一小樓為鬼怪所據,現形其上。有首毛身,自稱老叔,常與人交關典質,衣服器皿皆典,所典者銅錢。人於樓下呼之曰「老叔」,則應聲而立於樓前,將質物擲去,錢即擲下,取典亦然,習以為常。如此數年,忽有一道人雲遊至彼,聞其怪異,乃於樓下擲以法印,拋上,(明刻本此處多「其樓」二字。)但聞雷震一聲,其怪遂滅。

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).

 

Sprites and Goblins of Rongzhou 融州魍魎

On the first day of the first moon in the yiwei year of the Chunxi era (25 January, 1175), sprites and goblins were seen in the county seat of Rongshui County in Rongzhou; they cast the shadows of people, but were not human in form, being quite naked and with dishevelled hair, and they numbered in uncountable tens of thousands. [232] A servitor brought some spirit money and burnt it; the shadows eventually approached the flames. Then they scattered again in disorder, but after a little while they all disappeared. That day, at a shrine outside the city walls, fireworks suddenly rocketed from the earth straight into the sky, exploding all day and then being extinguished, leaving the whole prefecture in shock and alarm.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.231-32 (Tale 416):

融州魍魎

淳熙乙未正月旦日,魍魎見於融州融水縣治,有人之影,無人之形,裸死而披髮者無萬數。 [232] 有一手力持紙錢焚之,影竟赴火。又復散亂,有頃乃沒。是日,城外有神廟,忽煙火自地中直出衝天,經日而滅,一郡大驚。

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).