Crocodiles 骨雷

Crocodiles come from the realm of Funan, being two or three zhang in length (i.e. 10 to 13 metres), with four feet, like a gecko in shape. They frequently swallow people whole, and the princes of Funan order people to catch these fish and place them in their moats, so that criminals can be thrown to them. If they are worthy of death, the crocodiles will eat them; if they are without guilt, this will be scented and they will not be eaten. Crocodiles are also called hulei; bears are able to control them, grasping their snouts and dragging them to the bank, then pulling them apart and eating them. Also known as gulei, they transform into tigers in autumn, having three talons, and issue forth from the two prefectures Si and Lei in Nanhai; Yingpan Village in Linhai has many of them.

From Zhiwenji.

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), x, 464.3822:

骨雷

扶南國出鱷魚。大者二三丈。四足。似守宮狀。常生吞人。扶南王令人捕此魚。置於塹中。以罪人投之。若合死。鱷魚乃食之。無罪者。嗅而不食。鱷魚別號忽雷。熊能制之。握其觜至岸。裂擘食之。一名骨雷。秋化為虎。三爪。出南海思雷二州。臨海英潘村多有之。

出洽聞記

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A Fox-Dragon 狐龍

Beneath Lishan there was a white fox. It startled and bothered the people below the peak, but they were unable to get rid of it. One day during the Tang Ganfu era (874-80 CE), it suddenly took a bath in a hot spring. Before long, clouds arose and mists bubbled up, and a violent wind began to blow. It transformed into a white dragon, ascended the clouds and departed. For some time afterwards there was dark and gloom, and people frequently saw the white dragon soaring over the mountain’s flanks. This continued for three years. Then an old man appeared, approaching each night and weeping before the peak. After several days people waited for him and asked him why. The old man said: “My Fox-Dragon is dead. That is the reason.” They asked him why he called it a fox-dragon, and again why he wept. The old man said: “The fox-dragon was a fox and became a dragon. After three years it died. I am the fox-dragon’s son.” The people questioned him again, asking: “How can a fox turn into a dragon?” The old man replied: “This fox grew endowed with the vital energy of the west, its whiskers white in colour. It did not travel with the crowds, did not join with its vicinity. The fox was entrusted with the skirts of Lishan for more than a thousand years. Later, it happened to unite with a female dragon. The heavens were aware of this, and so decreed it become a dragon, and also that, like a human, it could leave the mortal plane and become a sage.” When he had finished speaking he vanished.

From Qishiji.

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), x, 455.3718:

狐龍

驪山下有一白狐。驚撓山下人。不能去除。唐乾符中。忽一日突溫泉自浴。須臾之間。雲蒸霧湧。狂風大起。化一白龍。昇天而去。後或陰暗。往往有人見白龍飛騰山畔。如此三年。忽有一老父。每臨夜。即哭於山前。數日。人乃伺而問其故。老父曰。我狐龍死。故哭爾。人問之。何以名狐龍。老父又何哭也。老父曰。狐龍者。自狐而成龍。三年而死。我狐龍之子也。人又問曰。狐何能化為龍。老父曰。此狐也。稟西方之正氣而生。胡白色。不與衆遊。不與近處。狐託於驪山下千餘年。後偶合於雌龍。上天知之。遂命為龍。亦猶人間自凡而成聖耳。言訖而滅。

出奇事記

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

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

Release A Dragon, Receive A Reward 放龍獲報

On the bank of the Lu River Li Yuan saw a small scarlet snake. Less than a chi in length, it was being harassed by a shepherd boy. Yuan bought it with a hundred cash, and released it among the thick vegetation. The following year, he was crossing the Long Bridge[1] again, and saw the Jinshi scholar Zhu Jun coming to call on him, saying: “Jun lives just a few hundred paces from the end of the bridge; their Excellency sends an invitation, if you will pardon me and sit.” Leading him to sit together in a boat, they travelled to a mountain, with richly decorated buildings and halls, all very tightly guarded. Presently, a person wearing a tall hat and ceremonial robes summoned Yuan, saying: “Our young son suffered misfortune and almost died at the hands of a mischievous boy; his humble life depended on the gentleman’s help.” Turning to Jun he ordered that he bow again, and then ordered a banquet be laid out, mixing products of land and sea, saying: “I am a fish of the southern seas; having achieved merit in life, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that I reside here, styling me Anliu Wang. I have a young servant, with the childhood name Yunjie, and I now present her to you; if you accept her, she will be of help.” Yuan therefore did not depart. He subsequently went to sit the civil examinations; when the test was due on the following day, Yunjie stealthily obtained the exam questions; Yuan then prepared his composition in advance, and, on entering the examination hall, felt great satisfaction, achieved great success and a recommendation as an imperial scholar. Yunjie said goodbye to him, saying: “I have obeyed the prince’s order and dare not stay long.” A poem of parting read:

Six years here to repay deep benevolence,

Saying farewell to the aquatic realm and the region of fish.

None say that newly-weds should be parted again,

All wish to share ancient love with new people.

Li Yuan was thus newly married at that time.

**uncertain translation**

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118 (Tale 205):

放龍獲報

李元於吳江岸見小朱蛇,長不滿尺,為牧童所困。元以百錢買之,放於茂草中。明年,再經長橋,有進士朱浚來謁見,曰:「浚居橋尾數百步耳,大人遣奉召,幸恕坐。」邀同舟,至一山,樓殿寶飾,侍衛甚嚴。俄一人高冠道服,引元坐:曰:「小兒不幸,幾死頑童之手,賴君子活此微命。」顧浚令再拜,乃命置酒,水陸交錯,曰:「吾乃南海之鱗,有功於世,天帝詔居此,封安流王。吾有小奴,小字雲姐,今於贈子,子納之,當得其助。」元乃別去。後赴禮闈,明日當試,雲姐私入竊所試題目出,元乃檢閱宿構,入試,大得意,高捷薦名登科。雲姐告辭曰:「奉王命不敢久留。」作詩別曰:「六年於此報深恩,水國魚鄉是去程。莫謂初婚又相別,都將舊愛與新人。」時李元新娶故也。

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)

[1] An ancient structure in Jiangsu Province.

Voles 田鼠

In the renxu 壬戌 year of the Zhengda 正大 era,[1] the peasant population of Beishan 北山, in Neixiang 內鄉 (in present-day Henan province) reported that voles were eating their grain. The rodents were as big as rabbits, gathering in their tens and hundreds, and wherever they passed grain and millet simply vanished. When hunting households shot at them they took many heads, some of which weighed more than ten jin 斤, the colour of their coats being like that of otters. Rodents of such size have never before been seen.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 1.16:

田鼠

正大壬戌,內鄉北山農民告田鼠食稼,鼠大如兔,十百為羣,所過禾稼為空。獵戶射得數頭,有重十餘斤者,毛色似水獺。未嘗聞如此大鼠也。

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)

[1] This is confusing. The Zhengda era declared by the Jin 金 polity ran from 1224 to 1234 CE. It does not seem to have included a renxu year; the first renxu year would have been in 1262.

A Pig’s Earring 猪耳鐶

The gentleman Jiang Songwei travelled from Shu via Xia, and on reaching the Yun’an Pass killed a pig as a temple sacrifice. When it came to washing the offering, he saw a single ring below one ear, inky coloured, clear and glistening; it must have formerly been a person and a thieving criminal.[1]

Hong Mai, Yi Jian Zhi, ii, 丙18.514

猪耳鐶

將仕郎宋衞自蜀道出峽,至雲安關,殺猪賽廟。洗牲時,見耳下一方鐶,墨色猶明潤,蓋必前身為人而犯盜者也。

Hong Mai 洪邁, He Zhuo 何卓 (ed.), Yi Jian Zhi 夷堅志 (Record of Yi Jian) 4 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981)

[1] This refers to the practice of tattooing a ring behind the ear as punishment for convicted thieves or bandits. On this practice, see Songshi 宋史 201.5018; Carrie E. Reed, ‘Tattoo in Early China’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 120 (2000), 360-76: 365. (the article is available online here)