Cui Maobo 崔茂伯

The daughter of Cui Maobo married one Pei Zu’er. Her husband’s home was more than five hundred li distant, and after several years had passed she had still not arrived there. During the eighth month, she died suddenly. Pei was not yet aware of this when, as darkness was about to fall, the woman appeared at Pei’s gate, clapping her hands and requesting entry. Carrying a gold jar a little over two sheng (2 litres) in size, she came to his bed and stood before it. Pei told her to sit, and asked where she had come from. The woman told him: “I am the daughter of Cui, Magistrate of Qinghe. While still young I learned of the gentleman’s betrothal to me. Unfortunately I passed away, so our happy union was not to be. Although our wedding feast will never take place, we are already united in purpose, and I therefore came to inform the gentleman.” She then presented Pei with the gold vessel as a parting gift.

After she had departed, Pei informed his father of the matter. His father wanted to send a message to confirm this, but Pei said: “Betrothed to the Cuis as a child, we should not now react like this. I should go there in person.” His father permitted this. When Pei arrived, the woman had indeed been buried, so they exchanged condolences, and Pei described the whole affair, bringing out the jar to show Maobo. This had been placed with the woman in her grave, so they all went to visit the tomb. More than ten li before they arrived, Pei saw the woman again, and she spoke to him. Those around him all heard her voice, but were unable to see her form. Pei yearned to be united with her, and soon fell ill and died. They were buried together.

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, 324.2574:

崔茂伯

崔茂伯女。結婚裴祖兒。婚家相去五百餘里。數歲不通。八月中。崔女暴亡。裴未知也。日將暮。女詣裴門。拊掌求前。提金罌。受二升許。到牀前而立。裴令坐。問所由。女曰。我是清河崔府君女。少聞大人以我配君。不幸喪亡。大義不遂。雖同牢未顯。然斷金已著。所以故來報君耳。便別以金罌贈裴。女去後。裴以事啟父。父欲遣信參之。裴曰。少結崔氏姻。而今感應如此。必當自往也。父許焉。裴至。女果喪。因相弔唁。裴具述情事。出罌示茂伯。先以此罌送女入瘞。既見罌。遂與裴俱造女墓。未至十餘里。裴復見女在墓言語。旁人悉聞聲。不見其形。裴懷內結。遂發病死。因以合葬。

Xie Lingyun 謝靈運

In the fifth year Yuanjia (428 CE), Xie Lingyun[1] suddenly saw Xie Hui (390-426 CE).[2] Carrying his head in his hands, he came and sat by Lingyun’s bed, blood flowing and splashing around him and onto the marten-fur robe he was wearing, even flowing to fill a small casket. When Lingyun went to Linchuan Prefecture, huge worms suddenly appeared in his rice. Soon after he was executed.

From Yiyuan.

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, 323.2562:

謝靈運

謝靈運以元嘉五年。忽見謝晦。手提其頭。來坐別牀。血流淋落。不可忍視。又所服貂裘。血淹滿篋。及為臨川郡。飯中欻有大蟲。遂被誅。出異苑


[1] Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385-433 CE), a highly regarded poet, was executed after becoming enmeshed in intrigues at the Liu Song court. His biography is found at Songshu, 617.1743-79.

[2] This is Xie Hui 謝晦 (courtesy name Xuanming 宣明, 390-426 CE), a senior general and highly regarded strategist implicated in revolt and rebellion against the Liu Song and eventually defeated and executed in 426 CE. His biography is found at Songshu, 414.1347-61. This tale is clearly an omen of doom.

A Secretary 給使

Quite recently someone took on a junior secretary. Over a long period the secretary repeatedly sought to return home, but without success. Some time later, this same clerk was sleeping beneath a south-facing window, when his employer noticed a woman in the doorway. Aged fifty or sixty, she was large and plump, and walked with some difficulty. As the clerk was sleeping, his covers had slipped off, and when the woman reached his bedside, she picked up the blanket and covered him again. She turned and went out through the door, but when the clerk turned on his side the cover slipped again, and the woman again put it back as it had been. The employer thought this very strange, and asked his clerk the following day why he had been so keen to return home. The clerk told him: “My mother is ill.” He asked again about her appearance and age, and all were just as he had seen, the only difference being that he said she was thin. Questioned again about her trouble, he replied: “A swelling sickness.” At this he gave the clerk leave to return. He set off, but on reaching home he was told that his mother had already been buried. It turned out that the fat shape he witnessed was a result of the swelling illness.

From Youminglu.

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, 323.2561:

給使

近世有人得一小給使。頻求還家未遂。後日久。此吏在南窗下眠。此人見門中有一婦人。年五六十。肥大。行步艱難。吏眠失覆。婦人至牀邊。取被以覆之。回復出門去。吏轉側衣落。婦人復如初。此人心怪。明問吏。以何事求歸。吏云。母病。次問狀貌及年。皆為所見。唯云形瘦不同。又問母何患。答云。病腫。而即與吏假。使出。便得家信云。母喪。追什所見之肥。乃是其腫狀也。出幽明錄

Jia Mi 賈謐

Jia Mi’s courtesy name was Changyuan. One night, in the sixth month of the ninth year Yuankang (299 CE), there was a violent thunderstorm. A pillar of Mi’s room collapsed, pinning him to his bedcovering. A violent gust of wind then caught his clothing, and lifted him several hundred zhang into the air (a zhang is about 3.3m). After some time had elapsed he came back down.

From Yiyuan.

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), viii, 359.2846:

賈謐

賈謐字長淵。元康九年六月。夜暴雷電。謐齋柱陷。壓毀牀帳。飄風吹其服。上天數百丈。久乃下。出異苑

 

Liu Jiao 劉嶠

At the end of the Yongjia era (307-13 CE), there was a Liu Jiao who lived in Jinling. His elder brother had died young, and his sister-in-law lived as a widow. One night, his sister-in-law and a servant-girl were asleep in the hall when the servant suddenly cried out and hurried to his room. She told him: “On the wall where your sister-in-law sleeps there is a very strange and unwholesome sight.” Liu Jiao quickly picked up a knife and lit the fire. Just as he reached the woman, he saw that there were shapes like human faces on all four walls, their eyes opened wide and their tongues protruding. Some were tigers, some dragons, changing to take on every conceivable shape, and growing as he watched to over a zhang (3.3m) in length. His sister-in-law then died.

From Guanggujin wuxingji.

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), viii, 359.2846:

劉嶠

永嘉末。有劉嶠居晉陵。其兄蚤亡。嫂寡居。夜。嫂與婢在堂中眠。二更中。婢〈婢原作嫂。據明鈔本改。〉忽大哭。走往其房。云。嫂屋中及壁上。奇怪不可看。劉嶠便持刀然火。將婦至。見四壁上如人面。張目吐舌。或虎或龍。千變萬形。視其面長丈餘。嫂即亡。出廣古今五行記

Wu Tao 鄔濤

Wu Tao was from Runan. He had skill and knowledge of ancient writings and was committed to the arts of the Way. While travelling he stopped temporarily at the Yiwu County guesthouse in Wuzhou. After more than a month, suddenly a girl appeared, with two serving maids arriving at night.[1] One of the maids came forward and told him: “This young lady is surnamed Wang.” That evening she turned and looked at the gentleman. Tao looked at her, and she was extremely beautiful. He thought, ‘this is the daughter of a great noble’, but did not dare speak. The lady Wang smiled, and said: “The esteemed scholar does not value wine or beauty; how can a mere concubine gain his trust?” Tao then rose and bowed to her, saying: “Such lowly scholars would not dare direct their gaze thus.” The lady Wang ordered a maid to bring her clothing and utensils to Tao’s bedchamber, lighting bright candles and laying out wine and food. They drank several rounds, and then lady Wang rose and addressed Tao: “Your servant is a young orphan without anyone to turn to, and would like to serve the gentleman at his pillow and mat. Would that be acceptable?” Tao initially refused in his humility, but then relented and permitted it in his sincerity. The lady Wang departed at dawn and arrived at dusk, and this continued for several months.

Yang Jingxiao, a Daoist of Tao’s acquaintance, visited and stayed at the residence. On seeing that Tao’s countenance had altered, he advised: “The gentleman has been deluded by spirits and demons. This must be broken off, or death will follow.” Tao questioned him about this in alarm, and then related the whole story. Jingxiao told him: “This is a spirit.” He then provided two amulets, one to attach to clothing, and the other to be fixed above the gate. He said: “When this spirit arrives, she will become very angry. Be careful not to speak to her.” Tao accepted these instructions. When the young woman arrived that night, she saw the token above the gate, let fly a string of curses, and departed, saying: “Remove that tomorrow, or suffer great misfortune.” Tao called on Jingxiao the next day and told him all about it. Jingxiao told him: “When she returns tonight, you should sprinkle her with this water on which I have cast a spell. That will surely bring things to an end.” Tao returned carrying the water. That night, when the woman returned, she was extremely sad and angry. Tao then sprinkled her with the water Jingxiao had treated. Her visits then ceased.

From Jiyiji.

[1] With thanks to Ofer Waldman for the improved translation here.

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, 347.2747:

鄔濤

鄔濤者。汝南人。精習墳典。好道術。旅泊婺州義烏縣館。月餘。忽有一女子。侍二婢夜至。一婢進曰。此王氏小娘子也。今夕顧降於君。濤視之。乃絕色也。謂是豪貴之女。不敢答。王氏笑曰。秀才不以酒色於懷。妾何以奉託。濤乃起拜曰。凡陋之士。非敢是望。王氏令侍婢施服翫於濤寢室。炳以銀燭。又備酒食。飲數巡。王氏起謂濤曰。妾少孤無託。今願事君子枕席。將為可乎。濤遜辭而許。恩意欵洽。而王氏曉去夕至。如此數月。濤所知道士楊景霄至舘訪之。見濤色有異。曰。公為鬼魅所惑。宜斷之。不然死矣。濤聞之驚。以其事具告。景霄曰。此乃鬼也。乃與符二道。一施衣帶。一置門上。曰。此鬼來。當有怨恨。慎勿與語。濤依法受之。女子是夕至。見符門上。大罵而去。曰。來日速除之。不然生禍。濤明日訪景霄。具言之。景霄曰。今夜再來。可以吾呪水洒之。此必絕矣。濤持水歸。至夜。女子復至。悲恚之甚。濤乃以景霄呪水洒之。於是遂絕。出集異記

A Guangling Clerk 廣陵吏人

A clerk from Guangling, surnamed Zhao, was sleeping alone in a chamber through the summer heat. Around midnight, he suddenly saw a tall person in a yellow robe enter via the door, followed by seven much smaller people, also wearing yellow. The stranger muttered to himself: “Looked everywhere without result, and now here, eh?” He shouted at him to get up, and said: “This can now be carried out.” One of the yellow-robed people stepped forwards and said: “This life is not yet finished, and we cannot just take it away. It would be better to make a record of this.” The taller person then reached inside his robe and brought out a seal. They made a seal impression on his left arm and departed. When dawn came he inspected it. The seal stuck closely to his skin, and its characters were like the ancient seal script. The lower character was shi 識 ‘knowledge’, the right looked like xian 仙 ‘immortal’, the left like ji 記 ‘record’, but the one above that could not be read. It is not known how Zhao ended up.

From Jishenlu.

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), viii, 353.2800:

廣陵吏人

廣陵吏姓趙。當暑。獨寢一室。中夜。忽見大黃衣人自門而入。從小黃衣七人。謂己曰。處處尋不得。乃在此耶。叱起之。曰。可以行矣。一黃衣前曰。天年未盡。未可遽行。宜有以記之可也。大人即探懷。出一印。印其左臂而去。及明視之。印文著肉。字若古篆。識其下。右若仙字。左若記字。其上不可識。趙後不知所終。出稽神錄

Zheng Zong 鄭總

Because his concubine had fallen ill the Jinshi scholar Zheng Zong did not want to sit the civil examination. The concubine told him: “You must not abandon your chance for a woman.” As she was so determined in her request, Zong thus entered the capital. That spring he failed the examinations and returned east. When he got home his concubine had died. Ten months after her burial, late at night, he happened not to have gone to bed, and heard the noise of someone moving outside the room. When he opened the door to look, it turned out to be his dead concubine. He invited her into the room, sat her down, and asked what it was that she needed. She only wanted tea, so Zong personally boiled some for her. When she had finished sipping it, Zong, because their young children were sleeping, asked whether she wanted to go together and see them. The concubine said: “We must not. They are young, and I fear it could be a shock.” When she had finished speaking she said farewell, and, as soon as she reached the threshold, vanished.

From Wenqilu.

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), viii, 352.2786:

鄭總

進士鄭總。以妾病。欲不赴舉。妾曰。不可為一婦人而廢舉。固請之。總遂入京。其春下第東歸。及家妾卒。既葬旬月後。夜深。偶未〈未原作來據明抄本改。〉寢。聞室外有人行聲。開戶觀之。乃亡妾也。召入室而坐。問其所要。但求好茶。總自烹與之。啜訖。總以小兒女也睡。欲呼與相見。妾曰。不可。渠年小。恐驚之。言訖辭去。才出戶。不見。出聞奇錄

Wang Kun 王坤

In the spring of the fourth year Dazhong (850 CE), Wang Kun of Taiyuan was serving as Doctor to the National University. His maidservant, Qing Yun, had died several years before this, but one night he suddenly dreamed that Qing Yun arrived before his bed. Kun was extremely afraid, but rose and questioned her. Qing Yun said: “Your servant has not been a human for several years now, and found myself missing my mortal life, as if I was bound but had not forgotten my release. This evening I received the opportunity to serve by your side, and am very pleased to see you.” Kun was muddled, as if he was drunk, and did not realize that she was a spirit. Qing Yun then led Kun out through the doorway. The gate had already been locked, but she guided Kun through a crevice and he passed through without harm. They reached the centre of the road, and paced back and forth under the moon.

After some time had passed, Kun suddenly felt hungry, and told Qing Yun. Qing Yun replied: “Is there a friend in the village who would give to my darling? Point them out and we’ll ask them for food.” Kun had long been friends with the Scholar to the Imperial College Shi Guan, and he too resided in the village, so Kun went there with her. When they reached Guan’s gate, it was already closed and bolted. Qing Yun knocked upon it, and after a little while the gatekeeper opened a leaf of the door and looked out, but said: “I just heard a knock on the gate, but now I look all is quiet, with nothing to see. How can that be?” He closed the leaf again, but Qing Yun knocked on it once more, and then again, for a third time. The gatekeeper asked, in angry tones: “How come these evil spirits always come to knock on our door?” He then spat and cursed them. Qing Yun explained to Kun: “Mr Shi has already gone to sleep. We certainly can’t call on him now. I hope the gentleman can suggest somewhere else.” At that time there was a junior clerk of the Imperial College who was also from the same village. When he went out he often passed the other’s gate, and the clerk would often pass on his superior’s monthly salary and slips of paper reporting new [2779] appointments. Kun trusted him implicitly.

When they arrived together at his house, they saw one leaf of the door open, and someone carrying a jar of water to scatter onto the street. Qing Yun said: “We should enter with him.” When they had stepped inside, they saw that the junior clerk was dining with several other people. Initially, Kun stood in the courtyard, thinking that the clerk would descend the steps and bow to him, but after some time the clerk still hadn’t given any sign of such courtesy. Presently they saw a maid carrying noodle soup up the steps. Qing Yun struck the servant on the back, at which she fell on the steps, and the soup was all spilled. The clerk, his wife and servants all leapt up, saying fearfully: “This is a malign attack!” They then hurriedly summoned a spirit-medium. The medium told them: “There’s someone there, with a red official’s knee-cover and a silver seal, standing before us in the courtyard.” They therefore made offerings to him, so Kun and Qing Yun sat down together. When the food was finished, they set out together, and the female medium accompanied them to the gate, burning spirit-money beside the entrance. At this Qing Yun addressed Kun: “The gentleman should accompany your servant and depart.” Kun therefore followed her into the village. He looked around and saw that it was the start of summer.

When they reached open countryside in the outskirts after several dozen li, they came to a tomb. Qing Yun said: “This is where your servant dwells. The gentleman should follow and enter.” The mouth of the grave was pitch black and he could not make anything out. Suddenly he awoke in palpitations of pure terror, his back sweating and his body shaking all over. By then the dawn had already broken, but his heart was full of revulsion towards the dream, and he dared not tell anyone about it. That day, he therefore decided to invite Shi Guan. When they had sat down together, Guan told him: “Last night there was a spirit that knocked at my gate three times; we sent people to look but all was quiet and nobody was there. When dawn broke I crossed to see the junior clerk, and found the remains of spirit money. I stood and summoned the clerk to ask about it, and the clerk told me: ‘Your servant had a dinner party last night, and there was a sudden malign attack on our maid. The spirit-medium told us we were haunted by a spirit, so we made offerings in the courtyard. This is the burnt paper.'” All of this was exactly the same as Kun’s dream. Kun grew ever more afraid, so informed his wife and children. In the winter of that year, he did indeed die.

From Xuanshizhi.

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), viii, 351.2778-79

王坤

太原王坤。大中四年春為國子博士。有婢輕雲。卒數年矣。一夕。忽夢輕雲至榻前。坤甚懼。起而訊之。輕雲曰。某自不為人數年矣。嘗念平生時。若縶而不忘解也。今夕得奉左右。亦幸會耳。坤懵然若醉。不寤為鬼也。輕雲即引坤出門。門已扃鐍。隙中導坤而過。曾無礙。行至衢中。步月徘徊。久之。坤忽飢。語於輕雲。輕雲曰。里中人有與郎善者乎。可以詣而求食也。坤素與太學博士石貫善。又同里居。坤因與偕行。至貫門。而門已鍵閉。輕雲叩之。有頃。閽者啟扉曰。向聞叩門。今寂無覩。何也。因闔扉。輕雲又扣之。如是者三。閽者怒曰。厲鬼安得輒扣吾門。且唾且罵之。輕白坤云。石生已寢。固不可詣矣。願郎更詣他所。時有國子監小吏。亦同里。每出。常經其門。吏與主月俸及條報除 [2779] 授。坤甚委信之。因與俱至其家。方見啟扉。有一人持水缶。注入衢中。輕雲曰。可偕入。既入。見小吏與數人會食。初。坤立於庭。以為小吏必降階迎拜。既而小吏不禮。俄見一婢捧湯餅登階。輕雲即毆婢背。遽仆於階。湯餅盡覆。小吏與妻奴俱起。驚曰。中惡。即急召巫者。巫曰。有一人。朱紱銀印。立於庭前。因祭之。坤與輕雲俱就坐。食已而偕去。女巫送到門。焚紙錢於門側。輕雲謂坤曰。郎可偕某而行。坤即隨出里中。望啟夏而去。至郊野數十里。見一墓。輕雲曰。此妾所居。郎可隨而入焉。坤即俛首曲躬而入。墓口曛黑不可辨。忽悸然驚寤。背汗股慄。時天已曉。心惡其夢。不敢語於人。是日。因召〈(明鈔本「召」作「訪」。)〉石貫。既坐。貫曰。昨夕有鬼扣吾門者三。遣視之。寂無所覩。至曉。過小吏。則有焚紙錢跡。即立召小吏。訊其事。小吏曰。某昨夕方會食。忽有婢中惡。巫云。鬼為祟。由是設祭於庭。焚紙於此。盡與坤夢同。坤益懼。因告妻孥。是歲冬。果卒。出宣室志

Taixuan Nü 太玄女

The Taixuannü, surname Zhuan, personal name He, lost her father as a child. Mother and child lived together for some time, and all said they would not survive long. Their sadness became worry. She often said: “The life of a human, once lost, cannot be restored. Moreover, I have heard that this span of life is limited, and life cannot be extended without perfecting the Way.” She then went to call on a sagely teacher, purifying her heart, seeking the Way and achieving the *wangzi* techniques. After practicing this for several years, she was then able to enter water without getting wet. At times of deep cold and snow, she could climb the ice in an unlined robe showing no change in countenance, warm in body and able to go on for several days. Moreover she was able to visit government offices, palace chambers, city markets and private residences in many other places. Not thinking this strange, pointing at them they would shift from their previous location. Doors and gates bearing locks would open upon her gesture; pointed at, mountains would crumble, pointed at, trees would fall; pointed at again, all of these would be restored. Taking disciples travelling through the mountains, when the sun set, she struck the rock with her staff, and opened up a door. Entering, there were chambers with beds, curtains and canopies, with food, provisions and wine as if this were normal. Even were she to travel ten thousand li, her whereabouts would often be like this. She could order small items to grow suddenly to the size of a house, and big things to shrink suddenly down to be like a hair or grain. Sometimes she would spit fire to cover the heavens, and sigh to extinguish it. She was also able to sit among flames, her clothes and shoes never scorching. Within a short period, she would change into an old man, change into a small child, change into a carthorse; there was no transformation she could not achieve. She practiced the thirty-six arts with complete dedication, bringing people back to life, and saving innumerable folk. It is not known from where her food or clothing came, and none achieved her powers. Her colour reduced ever more, but the hair on her temples was raven-black. Suddenly, in broad daylight, she ascended to heaven and departed.

From Nüxianzhuan.

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), ii, 59.363

太玄女

太玄女,姓顓,名和,少喪父。或相其母子,皆曰不壽。惻然以為憂。常曰:「人之處世,一失不可復生。況聞壽限之促,非修道不可以延生也。」遂行訪明師,洗心求道,得王子之術。行之累年,遂能入水不濡。盛雪寒時,單衣冰上,而顏色不變,身體溫煖,可至積日。又能徙官府宮殿城市屋宅於他處,視之無異,指之即失其所在,門戶櫝櫃有關鑰者,指之即開,指山山摧,指樹樹拆,更指之,即復如故。將弟子行山間,日暮,以杖叩石,即開門戶。入其中,屋宇床褥幃帳,廩供酒食如常。雖行萬里,所在常爾。能令小物忽大如屋,大物忽小如毫芒。或吐火張天,噓之即滅。又能坐炎火之中,衣履不燃。須臾之間,或化老翁,或為小兒,或為車馬,無所不為。行三十六術甚效,起死廻生,救人無數。不知其何所服食,亦無得其術者。顏色益少,鬢髮如鴉。忽白日昇天而去。出女仙傳