The Strangeness of the Jiuzhen Temple Spring 九真廟泉異

Behind the Jiuzhen Temple, within Sanwu Village, in Xiangxiang, in Tanzhou, there was a large well, its spring extremely deep and clear. It had long been a marvel, and people who looked at the spring had to bring paper money and throw it in the well; when the notes reached the spring they would sink. In the Yuanzhen era (1295-97), the autumn of the jiwei year,[1] there were seven travelling traders who, passing, went to look and joked: “It is said this spring is most magical; when people throw in spirit money it sinks straight to the bottom; nobody has ever seen paper notes float back up again.” The crowd thereupon saw a Zhiyuan paper note and some yellow and white spirit money notes rise to the surface and before long sink once more. The merchants became very alarmed, buying paper money and throwing it in, kowtowing and then departing. This spring is like that because it has spirit administrators. Nonetheless, despite being strange, this spring can truly be called greedy!

[1] This should be 56th year of the cycle, and therefore either 1259 or 1329. This may be an error or deliberate fudging.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.212 (Tale 377):

九真廟泉異

潭之湘鄉三五里間九真廟,背有一巨井,其泉極浚洌。素異者,人有觀泉,必須具楮財投井,楮財到泉即沉。元貞己未秋,有行商七人徑往一觀,戲曰:「聞此泉最靈異,人皆以紙錢投之,直沉於底,未嘗見泉中有紙錢浮將出來。」衆因而(「因而」,明刻本作「目」。)看見有至元鈔一踏、黃白紙錢數片,浮出水面,須臾復沒。衆商遂駭,亦置楮財投之,叩首而去。蓋泉有神司之故爾。雖然,此泉雖異,亦可謂之貪泉也夫!

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).

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Shigong Assists A Scholar 石公待士

The Xindu Shigong Temple of Anren County, in Hengzhou, was devoted to the White Serpent. In autumn, the gengyin year of the Zhiyuan era (1340?), a scholar going to a hostel was delayed, and lodged below the Shigong hall, and therefore prayed to the spirit: “Being in difficulties on the road, I hope the deity will show the way.” The spirit granted him a dream, and said: “In Hubei there is a great merchant, presently seen within this county town. His feet are terribly afflicted by sores, and he has expended five hundred thousand on seeking physicians. The physicians, however, have exhausted their skills to no effect; you will go and give him treatment.” The scholar said: “Your servant has never had skill in medicine; how can this be done?” The deity replied: “This merchant once boarded a boat before my temple and peed towards my shrine. I became angry at him and sent a small demon to prick his shins with a nail, leading to this. You should take ash from my incense burner and rub his sores. They will then be healed. If a reward is given, you may take it all as travel expenses, looking to the future and keeping my words secret. If not, what you gain will all be lost, and my offerings will lose their magnificence.” The scholar waited for the dawn and then went to the place directed, using things as directed. The great merchant’s sores then healed, and the scholar was rewarded as predicted. Due to all this the merchant declared him a lifelong friend. One day he asked about how the medicine had been obtained, and the scholar candidly explained the cause. The merchant was resentful, so made obeisances at the town god temple and paid for ten feasts at the Water and Land Festival, in order to bring a case against Shigong. At the fourth feast, Shigong appeared again to the scholar in a dream, saying: “At first, sympathizing with your hardship, means were provided for your salvation. Having been warned not to share secrets, you have now spoken of them. I am facing disaster, and everything you have gained will also be lost.” When the fifth feast was being prepared, lightning burst over the temple and burned it, and the scholar too fell ill and died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.217 (Tale 385):

石公待士

衡州安仁縣新渡石公廟素靈。至元庚寅秋,有士人趁旅邸不及,寓宿於石公祠下,遂禱於神云:「旅中困乏,冀神指迷。」神予之夢曰:「湖北有巨商,見在本縣城中,足瘡苦甚,已出五百千求醫。而醫者盡其伎不能效,汝往與醫。」士人云:「某素不善醫,奈何?」神曰:「此商嘗乘船在吾廟前對吾廟尿,吾怒之,令小鬼以釘刺其脛,故爾。汝以我殿上香鑪灰與擦其瘡,即愈。若如所酬,儘可為旅費,卻望隱吾言,不然汝所得隨喪,而吾之香火亦不隆矣。」士人俟天明前往彼處,如其言用之,巨商之瘡隨愈,而士人所得如數。巨商因此與士人為刎頸交。一日叩其得醫藥之因,士人遂直言其所以。巨商不平,遂於城隍廟拜設水陸齋十筵,以訟石公。至四筵,石公又託夢與士人言:「當初憫汝之貧,故以見告而周急。已嘗戒祝毋泄,今又言之,我亦遭禍,而汝所得亦喪。」設齋至第五筵,雷轟其廟而焚之,士人亦病喪焉。

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).

Hua Yue Serves As King Yama 華岳為閻王

In Luling lived an Ouyang Sheng, who enjoyed joking and teasing his entire life. On seeing that rice sold by a family was coarse and damp, he composed a poem:

‘If in the world one sold the Thunder-God,

The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down.’

Falling ill one day, he was escorted to the nether world, and saw the list of those released; it named Huang Niushi, Ouyang Deyu, Yi Li and Ouyang Sanying. When he had finished watching, he was taken to a hall, and asked those around him: “Who is prince of the gate?” They said: “It is now Xi, the worldly son of Hua Yue.”[1] He presently saw a person, robed in purple and belted in gold, seated over the hall, who asked: “You spoke extravagantly in life, once saying the sentence ‘The buyer of a Thunder-God would strike them down’; the Thunderer thus raised a lawsuit in heaven; how can you buy thunder?” Ou[yang] answered: “The Great Prince’s own ‘Record of a Southern Expedition to the Blue-Green Mountains’ also has the sentence ‘Lightning does not smite the emperor-deceiving traitor’, and this was exactly my meaning.” Hua laughed and said: “Free to return! Free to return!” Ou then revived, writing in secret to one called Two Ou, and told the villagers: “Our district will definitely have good news this autumn.” He entrusted the sealed slip of paper to the multitude until the examination results were announced. Afterwards, both men were indeed examination champions.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.211 (Tale 375):

華岳為閻王

廬陵有歐陽生者,平生喜作謔詞,見糶米之家米粗且溼,作詩云:「世間若有雷公賣,買個雷公打殺他。」一日病,被追至冥府,見陰司放解榜,有黃牛石、歐陽德遇、義歷、歐陽三英名字。看畢,至一殿宇,問左右曰:「閭王為誰?」曰:「即世間華岳子西也。」忽見一人紫袍金帶坐殿上,問云:「汝在生有口過,嘗有『買箇雷公打殺他』之句,雷乃奉行天之威令,豈汝能買乎?」歐答云:「大王《翠微南征集》亦有『雷霆不劈欺君賊』之句,即此意也。」華笑曰:「放還!放還!」歐遂蘇,密書二歐名字告之鄉人云:「吾鄉今秋定有好事。」對衆封記片紙,俟揭榜日開。後二人果領薦。

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 Hua Yue 華岳, courtesy name Zixi 子西 (13th century, dates unknown), also known as Cuiwei 翠微. His biography is found at Songshi 455.113375-78.

A Dead Soul Returns Home 死魂歸家

In the autumn of the renwu year in the Zhiyuan era (1282), the lady née Chen, wife of Zhao Ruosu, fell ill and died. A little after three weeks later, her nephew Chen Hong came, lodging anxiously in the library. Zhao’s mother, lady Chen, lay in her coffin in the neighbouring room. Suddenly, during the night, the sound of a human voice emanated from the coffin, continuing indistinctly for some time. Not long after, there came several loud raps on the table, and a stern voice called: “Girl! I’m quite unable to help myself, and then you come to stir up trouble!” Chen, terrified, gathered candles and unlocked the door, but all was quiet with nothing to see. On the table the sustaining offerings were covered in dust, but visible among this were two fresh palm-prints. The next day at noon, news of their neighbour’s daughter’s death arrived. They then realised that the previous night’s voice was the dead woman’s soul receiving advance warning of this.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.241 (Tale 436):

死魂歸家

至元壬午秋,趙若涑妻陳氏病卒。越二旬,其姪陳紘來,懸宿於書館內。隔房乃趙母陳氏柩在焉。忽中夜聞柩間有人語聲,良久莫辨。未幾忽拍桌兩下,厲聲曰:「女兒,我自也沒奈何,你又來相攪!」陳大恐,朋燭啟鑰,寂無所見。供養桌上皆塵埃,視之有二掌痕獨新。次日午,果趙之適女訃音至。始知昨夕之聲,(「聲」,明刻本作「怪」。)魂已先知矣。

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).