Li Ji’s Daughter 李勣女

In the first year Zhenguan (627 CE), Li Ji’s (594-669 CE)[1] beloved daughter died, and she was buried at Bei Mang, with a servant’s cottage built next to the tomb. One day, the daughter suddenly appeared to the servant and said: “I did not die in the first place, but was rather stolen away by the spirit of a great tree. Now, the spirit having left on a pilgrimage to Xiyue, I have therefore managed to run away. I knew that you were here, so I came. I have already been parted from my parents, and returning from this would be humiliating, so I cannot go back. If you hide me, I can reward you with great wealth.” The servant was flabbergasted, but eventually agreed, and built another room for her. The girl sometimes left at dawn to return at dusk, sometimes left at nightfall to return at dawn, her every step like the wind. A month later, she suddenly brought ten jin of gold (about 5 kg) as a gift, and the servant accepted it. When he went to sell it, however, the family who had lost it seized the servant to report the matter. The governor of Luoyang was determined to get to the bottom of the matter, so the servant told the full story. When they followed him to seize her, the girl had already gone, and the remaining gold had all turned into yellow rock. (Taken from the Sunxianglu).

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, 327.2601:



[1] This seems likely to be Li Shiji 李世勣 (594-669), courtesy name Maogong 懋功, posthumously known as Duke Zhenwu of Ying 英貞武公. See


Secret Virtue of the Dou Lineage 竇氏陰德

[107] When Dou Yujun of Yanshan first saw his ancestor in a dream, he was told: “You lack children, and moreover will not be long-lived; why not cultivate secret virtue early, to return to good fortune.” Yujun was terrified, and from then on where among his in-laws there were dead unburied, or daughters unmarried, he helped them all in achieving these things. Even in cases where the married women had been taken and their bonds burnt, he gave gold to return these lost people; cultivating his merit willy-nilly, there was nothing he would not do. Late in life he had five sons: Yi, Yan, Kan, Cheng and Xi, and they all passed the civil service examinations in turn. People called them the ‘Five Dou Dragons’, and a poem for them read:

Yanshan Counsellor Dou

Taught his sons the virtuous way.

The trunk of the heaven tree may age,

But the Osmanthus shows five fragrant branches.

Yujun’s career extended to Imperial Censor for Admonition, and he died aged eighty, without suffering illness. Now he is a True Man in the Heavenly Caverns.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106-7 (Tale 185):


[107] 燕山竇禹鈞,初夢其祖曰:「汝無子,又且不壽,何不早修陰德,以回造化。」禹鈞惶懼,於是內外姻婭有喪未舉、有女未嫁,皆助成之。乃至焚券嫁有夫之女,得金還去失之人,苟可修德,無不為之。晚年生子,儀、儼、侃、偁、僖五人,皆相繼登科,時人謂之「竇氏五龍」,而為詩曰:「燕山竇十郎,教子以義方。靈椿一株老,丹桂五枝芳。」禹鈞官至諫議大夫,年八十無疾而卒,今為洞天真人。

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).

Skull Spirits 髑髏神怪

During the Jiaxi era (1237-41), the ten-year-old grandson of a villager suddenly vanished without trace, and could not be traced despite prayer, divination and the distribution of notices. During his search it started to rain, and when he sought temporary shelter in a doorway he suddenly heard his grandson call out the names of his ancestors, leaving him shocked and astonished. Being very familiar with his grandson’s voice, he hurried to report the matter to the local officials. When official messengers made a search they indeed found him in a cupboard. By that time he was already emaciated and haggard, having lost the appearance of life, breathing feebly and close to his end, he went to the officials and was still able to relate the whole story of his case. When he was first taken, he was treated with the greatest kindness, each of his meals always filling him right up. Day by day from then on his food was reduced, even his rice dumplings shrinking, and he was eventually left without even a pickle. Each day he was washed only with vinegar, from head to toe, and his joints and blood vessels stopped up with nails. He experienced the greatest cruelty, and at the end of his report, he finally passed away. The kidnappers confessed, and their household, with the exception of the elderly and underage, all received the death sentence.

It is widely said by people in the present generation that those concerned with fortune steal away young boys in this way, waiting for them to die and then taking their bones. Grasping their immortal and mortal souls, it is said that when placed by the ear they gain reports on affairs; these are called ‘Skull Spirits’. When Wu Yuyan was a censor in Jiangdong, he too discovered such a matter, and on investigation heard an account much like this.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.69 (Tale 120):



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).