A Demon Mud-Baby 泥孩兒怪

In Lin’an it was customary that people enjoy themselves on the lake, and many buy one another Pingjiang mud-babies, often giving them to neighbouring households and calling them Local Specialty Statues. A woman from a Yuanxi household, because she had received one of these yabei children, set it up a bed and hung a screen of coloured silk from a cross-beam, playing with and treasuring it tirelessly. One day, while having an afternoon nap, she suddenly heard a person chanting poetry: “Embroidered bedding gives long years of service, passed from hand to hand; fragrant bed-curtains may be handed on in quick succession.” When she awoke, she couldn’t see anyone. That night, waking a little in the small hours, she again heard someone chant the same couplet. Woken with a start, in the dim moonlight she saw a teenager stepping through the screen from the west, and leapt up in alarm. It advanced and comforted her: “Don’t be frightened; I live not far from here, you have yearned for a child for such a long time, your soul and spirit have brought you to this. Do not wait, open the gates and enter.” She rose and saw that the door was closed just as before. The woman realised that he was a spirit, but could not resist combining with him. At times when the night was dark and the moon bright, that youth would sometimes come and go, having left her a gold ring. The woman had secretly placed it in a box, and after several days realised that it was actually just dirt; she was greatly shocked. Suddenly she saw that the gold ring was missing from the yabei child’s left upper arm, and knew that it was a demon, so she smashed it and threw the fragments in the river; the demon then vanished.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.232 (Tale 419):

泥孩兒怪

臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,相尚多買平江泥孩兒,仍與鄰家,謂之土宜像。院西有一民家女,因得壓被孩兒,歸置於牀屏綵橋之上,玩弄愛惜無厭。一日午睡,忽聞有人歌詩云:「繡被長年勞轉展,香幃還許暫偎隨。」及覺,不見有人。是夕,中夜睡微醒,復聞有歌前詩句。驚覺,月影朦朧,見一少年侵步帳西,女子驚起。進而撫之曰:「毋恐,我所居去此不遠,慕子之久,神魂到此,不待啟關而入。」起視扃鑰如故。女知其神,不得已與之合焉。正當風清月白之時,此子時復而來,因遺金環。女密投箱篋中,數日見金環實土為之,女心大驚。忽見壓被孩兒左臂上金環不存,知此為怪,遂碎而投諸河,其怪遂絕。

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 closely comparable tale is found in Tian Rucheng 田汝成, Xihu Youlan Zhi Yu 西湖遊覽志餘 (A Continued Record of Sightseeing at West Lake), (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1980), 26.477-78:

宋時,臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,競買泥孩、鸎歌花、湖船回家,分送鄰里,名曰湖上土宜。象院西一民家女,買得一壓被孩兒,歸置屛橋之上,玩弄不厭。一日午睡,忽聞有歌詩者云:『繡被 [478] 長年勞展轉,香幃還許暫偎隨。』及覺,不見有人。是夜將半,復聞歌聲,時月影朦朧,見一少年,漸近帳前,女子驚起,少年進撫之曰:『毋恐,我所居,去此不遠,慕子姿色,神魂到此,人無知者。』女亦愛其丰采,遂與合焉。因遺女金環,女密置箱篋。明日,啓篋視環,乃土造者。女大驚,忽見壓被孩兒左臂失去金環,遂碎之,其怪乃絶。

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A Fox Takes the Form of a Dead Person 狐戀亡人

Chen Chengwu’s household was poor, without an income, and he lived alone in a small house, but having once seen a village woman of great beauty, his heart often cherished her memory. One evening the woman suddenly arrived before his narrow bed, saying: “My heart has long wished to be united with you, but there are many people in my home, and I could not come and go. Now they have all gone away, so I came especially to visit you.” Chen was delighted to be united with her, his tender sentiments intense, quite unaware that she was a disembodied spirit. Enjoying contact from dawn to dusk, his face grew sallow and drawn, and he fell ill and died. Upon his death those who came to prepare his funeral saw only an elderly fox (i.e., instead of a woman), cradling its head in its paws by Chen’s grave and howling in a most sorrowful way. They raised the coffin and approached the fire, and the fox followed them, disappearing from view as soon as it reached the flames, leaving no trace.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.249 (Tale 450):

狐戀亡人

陳承務家貧無取資,獨處小室,曾見一村婦有色,心常思慕。一夕婦忽至榻前,曰:「吾心欲與子合久矣,奈屋內人稠,不能出入。今皆他出,特來相訪。」陳喜與合,情意稠密,莫知其為人鬼也。朝暮往來,面色黃瘁,感疾而卒。及其死也,為治喪事,但見老狐扶頭坐於陳喪之側,嗚嗚聲有悲哀之狀。舉棺就火,狐(「狐」原作「婦」,據明刻本改。)亦隨之,至火滅方不見其蹤影。

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 Dead Servant Sells Geese 死僕賣鵝

The Li household of Anqing Fu had a servant named Hu Baiwu, who had died several years ago. One day, setting off for the capital, Li saw someone in the street resembling him, at which he exclaimed and questioned the seller. He said: “Your humble servant is actually a ghost; not originally fated to die yet, my ethereal soul could not submit to authority, and has no option but to drift through the mortal world.” Questioned about the things he sold, he said: “These are items from this (mortal) world; every day I bring the travelling pedlar’s stall, and the money I use is also of this world.” Questioned as to his accommodation, he said: “At night I rest at the roadside, on a butcher’s board, where the guards on patrol don’t see me; those trading like this are very many, and are of course ghosts.”

It can therefore be seen that mixed among the floating population (huhai) are ghostly people; even grasping their fingers and pointing none would see this truly.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.240 (Tale 433):

死僕賣鵝

安慶府李家有僕胡百五,已死數年。一日如京,於街上見賣炙鵝者似之,呼而問。曰:「某實鬼也,本未當死,魂無歸附,未免混凡。」詰其所賣之物,曰:「即世間物,每日就鋪家行販來,所用之錢即世間錢也。」詰其止宿之地,曰:「夜則泊於街旁肉案上,巡更軍吏皆不得見,經紀買賣如某輩甚多,固鬼也。」 以是見湖海之內,人鬼混淆,持指示數人,皆不識耳。

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 Choking Patient Spits a Snake 病噎吐蛇

When Hua Tuo (d. 208 CE) was on the road, he saw a patient who, suffering a choking illness, although keen on eating and drinking was quite unable. His family carried him on a cart, wishing to consult the physician. Tuo heard his moans and groans, stopped the cart to inspect him, and addressed him, saying: “Just there by the road there is a pastry house; take three sheng (c. 3 litres) of their strong vinegar made from garlic and leek and drink this down; the illness should then clear itself up.” Having done as Tuo said, he stood and spat out a snake, suspending it from the side of the cart, and wishing to go to Tuo. Tuo having gone out and not yet returned, a small child playing before his gate greeted him, saying: “The guest’s carriage having that thing hung on the side, he must have encountered our gentleman.” The guest coming forward and entering Tuo’s walls, he saw such snakes hung up in their dozens.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.229 (Tale 411):

病噎吐蛇

華佗行道,見一人病噎,嗜食而不能,家人車載,欲往就醫。佗聞其呻吟,駐車往視,語之曰:「向來道旁有賣餅家,蒜虀大酢,從取三升飲之,病自當瘥。」即如佗言,立吐蛇一條,懸之車邊,欲造佗。佗尚未還,佗家小兒戲門前,迎見曰:「客車邊有物,必是逢我公也。」疾者前,入佗壁,見懸此蛇以十數。

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).

Compare to the shorter, much earlier version in the Soushenji:

Gan Bao, Kenneth J. DeWoskin and J.L. Crump, Jr. (trans), In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), p.41:

“Hua T’o Treats a Sufferer with Vinegar (3,70)

Once, while Hua T’o was traveling he saw a man who suffered difficulty with swallowing. He could not get down what he ate, so his family had put him in their cart to take him to a physician. Hua T’o heard his strangled groans, dismounted from his carriage, and went to inspect the man. Then he addressed the family: “You passed a cake shop on the side of the road back there, and they make strong vinegar from the fermentation of garlic and leeks,” said T’o. “Go you now, purchase three measures of that fluid, and force the patient to drink it. This should cure the disorder.”

They did as he instructed, and the man immediately spat up a serpent.”

 

Gan Bao 干寶, Soushenji 搜神記 (In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979), 3.41-42:

佗嘗行道,見一人病咽,嗜食不得下。家人車載,欲往就醫。佗聞其呻吟聲,駐車往 [42] 視,語之曰:「向來道邊,有賣餅家蒜虀大酢,從取三升飲之,病自當去。」即如佗言,立吐蛇一枚。

 

 

A Tumour Contains Lice 肉瘤有蝨

Li Shengde of Fuliang suffered from an itch on his back, which swelled like an upturned basin; there was no pain, just an unbearable tickling. His eating and drinking reduced each day, and nobody knew what kind of an illness it was. The physician Qin Deli saw him, and said: “This is a louse growth; I can treat it.” Applying a medicine to it, he wound [229] a length of silk floss around it, and when evening came it split; about a dou of lice came out, all able to move by squirming and wriggling. After a few days, the size had reduced, but a small hole, like the tip of a chopstick, stayed open, and from time to time another louse would emerge, going beyond counting, and in the end he died.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.228-29 (Tale 410):

肉瘤有蝨

浮梁李生得背癢疾,隱起如覆盂,無所痛苦,唯癢不可忍。飲食日以削,無有識為何病。醫者秦德立見之,曰:「此蝨瘤也,吾能治之矣。」取藥明刻本此處多一「傳」字。似當為「傅」字。其上,又塗 [229] 一綿帶繞其圍,經夕瘤破,出蝨斗許,皆蠢蠕能行動。即日體輕,但一小竅如箸端不合,時時蝨涌出,不勝計,竟死。

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 Corpse Dances 死屍鼓舞

In Hedong there was a villager whose wife had died recently and had not yet been prepared for her coffin. When night fell, his family suddenly became aware of a sound like music approaching slowly; when it reached the hall, her corpse began to move. A little layer, the music seemed to enter the roof of the hall, and her body then rose and danced. As the melody gradually moved away, the corpse turned and pirouetted out through the gates, following the as it departed. Her family were shocked and terrified, but the night was moonless and they did not dare pursue her. That same night the villager had just returned and, realising what had happened, took up a staff and followed her to a grove of tombs, and after about five or six li, again heard the music coming from a cypress grove. Drawing near to the trees, there was the glimmer of a fire, and the corpse was dancing next to it. The villager grasped his staff and beat the corpse until it fell on the ground. The music stopped, too, and he then returned, bearing the body in his back.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.241 (Tale 435):

死屍鼓舞

河東有一村民,妻新死未殮。日暮,其家忽覺有樂聲漸近,至庭宇,屍亦微動。少焉,樂聲入房,如在梁棟間,屍遂起舞。樂聲漸出,屍倒旋出門,隨樂聲而去。其家驚懼,時月黑不敢尋逐。將夜,村民方歸,知之,乃持杖逐至一墓林,約五六里,復聞樂聲在一柏林上,及近樹之下,有火熒然,屍方舞矣。村民持杖擊屍倒地,樂聲亦住,遂負屍而返。

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).

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).