King Qian Manifests In A Dream 錢王現夢

Song Gaozong (r. 1127-62) was the ninth son of Huizong (r. 1100-26). While his mother, the Empress Wei, was pregnant, Huizong dreamed that the King of Wuyue Qian Chu came to call on him.[1] On waking, he marvelled at this. It was the second year Daguan (1108 CE). At Gaozong’s birth, a red light filled the palace chamber. In the second year Xuanhe (1120), he was given the title Prince of Kang. At the turn of the Jingkang era (1126-27), the prince was often sent to the Jin as a hostage and spent time among their troops. When the Jin Crown Prince and the Prince of Kang traded bowshots, the latter hit all three volleys, smashing their arrowheads and leaving them hanging together in bundles. The Jin prince was terrified, believing that he was a deity, and thinking silently to himself: “The Song crown prince has grown up [7] deep within the palace, accustomed to wealth and station, so horse riding cannot be his strong point. Now, such expert archery must mean that the southern court have selected a skilled warrior from amongst their clan to take the prince’s place as a hostage; he must be an impostor. Keeping him is of no benefit; he should be returned. Exchanging him and having the true crown prince come as a hostage would be better.” In this way Gaozong won his release.

Changing his clothes he ran helter-skelter down a side road, and when the strength in his legs eventually gave way to exhaustion, he took a nap between the steps of the Cuifujun Temple. In his dream he heard a spirit telling him “The Jin have sent soldiers here; you must leave quickly.” The Prince of Kang looked all around, unsure what to do, and the spirit spoke again: “There is a horse prepared and waiting at the gate; leave quickly, great prince; you must not be caught.” The Prince of Kang awoke from his dream to find a horse already by his side. Leaping atop his mount, the prince galloped away to the south, covering seven hundred li in a single day. When he came to cross the (Yellow) River, his horse would not advance, and when he looked down he realised that it was made of mud. He then understood how the spirits had helped him. Seeking a crossing, he arrived, extremely hungry and thirsty, at a small village, and received food from a very old woman. She invited him inside, and then went back out in front of the house. Just then a number of mounted soldiers arrived in pursuit, and asked her: “There is an official, dressed like us; has he passed this way or not?” The elderly woman considered these words awhile, thinking about the manner of the man she’d just fed, and replied: “It has been several days since he passed through.” His pursuers beat their riding crops against their saddles, exclaiming: “Alas! Alas!” They then turned back, giving up the chase.

When the old woman went back to him, she said: “I see that the official is no vagabond; could it be that you are a person of the imperial palace? Just now some pursuit riders came asking questions, but I have hoodwinked them and they turned back.” The Prince of Kang replied: “I am fleeing to the south, and have arrived here famished and thirsty. I am indebted to you, but faced with these questions in truth I dare not answer, but wish to keep my secret.” The old woman said: “May the Great Prince please be at ease.” After a little while, she prepared a meal and brought it, also taking out several hundred liang of silver and presenting it to him, explaining: “My son was Li Rushui, and he died as their captive. I wish the great prince to devote this to the service of the realm.” The Prince of Kang was therefore able to flee to Xiangzhou and issue a proclamation recruiting troops to rescue the princes.

He then ascended the Flying Immortal Pavilion within the prefectural garden, took up bow and arrow and, looking at its inscribed board, prayed: “If I hit that tablet, I will ‘pay heed to news from the capital’” (i.e., play a role in governing the realm). He fired three times and did indeed hit three times, and those around him were deeply moved and congratulated one another. He also spoke to the commanding officer: “In the night I dreamed that an emperor removed his imperial robes and gave them to me. I removed my former robes and dressed myself in his gifts; what omen does this carry?” After a little while, the city gates were sealed as the official attendant Qin Zaiji had arrived with an imperial decree hidden within a wax medicine ball. This ordered him to serve as commander-in-chief, and to issue forth with an army. Just as the prince set out from Xiangzhou, an envoy galloped up to report that the Yellow River had not fully frozen over. The multitude all turned pale. The prince prayed to the spirits of heaven and earth and to the rivers. When they arrived at the Zihedu crossing, the river had become solid ice, so they went straight over. At that time, Huizong and Qinzong (r. 1125-27) had already departed on their ‘northern hunt’, and an imperial rescript from Huizong was presented, which read: “It would be better to ascend the throne than come to rescue your [8] father and mother.” Moreover, there was a decree from the Yuanyou Empress addressed to the Prince of Kang, which said, in outline: “Only when the House of Han had suffered ten generations of hardship did the prosperity of Guangwu arise; the lord having been presented with nine sons, only Chong’er (Duke Wen of Jin, 697–628 BCE) remained.[2] This can only be heaven’s will; how could it possibly be by human design?” The Prince of Kang bowed and accepted this, ascending the throne in Nanjing.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.6-8 (Tale 8)

錢王現夢

宋高宗,徽宗第九子也。母韋后在娠時,徽宗夜夢吳越王錢俶來謁,覺而異之,時大觀二年也。高宗生於宮中,紅光滿室。宣和二年,封康王。靖康之變,康王常質金人軍中,金國太子與康王同出射,連發三矢皆中,破其筈,纍纍懸於其上。金太子驚以為神,默計之曰:「宋太子生長 [7] 深宮,狃於富貴,鞍馬非其所長。今善射如此,意南朝揀選宗室中之長於武藝者冒名為質,必非真也。留之無益,不如遣還,換真太子來質乃善。」高宗由是得逸。遂易服間道奔竄,足力疲睏,乃假寐於崔府君廟階砌間,夢神人報曰:「金人追兵至,必速去之。」康王徬徨四顧,神曰:「已備馬門首伺侯矣,大王急行,毋為所及也。」康王驚夢,則馬已在其側矣。王踴躍上馬,疾馳而南,一日行七百里,渡河而馬不前,下視之,則泥馬也,始悟為神物之助。暨河渡,至一村莊,飢渴甚,謁飯於一老嫗。嫗延入莊內坐,復出莊前,則有數騎追至,問:「有一官人,狀貌若是,曾從此過否?」嫗思其言狀貌類謁飯者,乃答之:「已過數日矣。」追騎以鞭敲鞍曰:「可惜!可惜!」遂返而不追。嫗歸,語曰:「吾觀官人非客旅也,得非宮中人乎?適有追騎來問,吾已紿之而還矣。」康王曰:「吾奔逃至南,飢渴至此,既承見問,敢不實對,願密之。」嫗曰:「請大王安心。」少頃,辦飯進,因出銀數百兩以獻曰:「吾兒李若水也,已死於虜矣。國家大事,願大王勉之。」康王由此奔相州,揭榜召兵勤王。因登郡圃飛仙亭,視其牌額,持弓矢而祝曰:「若中此牌,則必聞京師音耗。」果三發三中,左右動色相賀。又語幕府曰: 「夜來夢皇帝脫所御袍賜吾,吾解舊衣而服(「服」原作「復」,據元刻本改。)所賜,此何祥也?」頃時京師闔門祗候秦仔齎蠟詔來,命為大元帥,速頒兵入衛。時王發兵相州,使臣馳報黃河未凍,衆失色,王禱天地河神。行至子河渡,而河冰凍已合,遂渡河。時徽宗、欽宗已北狩矣,有使臣曹勛自河北竄歸,進徽宗御札曰:「便可即真,來救 [8] 父母。」又奉元祐皇后手詔迎康王,其略曰:「漢家之厄十世,宜光武之中興;獻公之子九人,惟重耳之尚在。茲乃天意,夫豈人謀!」康王拜受,遂即位於南京。

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 Qian Chu 錢俶 (929-88, r. 947-78, courtesy name Wende 文德, known as Qian Hongchu 錢弘俶 until 960), the last king of Wuyue, who surrendered his kingdom to the Song. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Chu.

[2] This seems to refer to the famous and unexpected ascendance of Duke Wen in 636 BCE after a period of turbulence. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Wen_of_Jin.

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The Haimen Tiger 海門虎

In the eighth month of the second year Chunxi (18 August to 16 September, 1175), in Xiasha, Haiman County, Tongzhou, a savage tiger suddenly emerged. Of the oxen, sheep, pigs and dogs belonging to the populace, a great many were consumed. The residents feared its coming, and when dusk fell would emerge to fend it off. The windows and doors of old Man Chen’s cottage were all flimsy and would collapse at a touch. Chen spoke to his wife and children, saying: “The tiger will only eat a certain number of people. Our family has eight members, and I fear we are due a catastrophe, so I will now go and undertake that role.” His wife and children lamented and urged him not to, but he paid no heed. When he opened the door, he saw the tiger. It bore an arrow in its flank, so he reached with his hand and pulled it out. The tiger leapt into the air and roared, made a show of great happiness, and departed. The next night, it threw a wild pig to them as a reward, and from then on was seen no more.

Hong Mai 洪邁, He Zhuo 何卓 (ed.), Yi Jian Zhi 夷堅志 (Record of Yi Jian) 4 volumes (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), iii, 庚, 4.1166:

海門虎

淳熙二年八月,通州海門縣下沙忽有虎暴,民家牛羊豬狗,遭食者多。居人畏其來,至暮輒出避。陳老翁村舍窗戶籬壁,皆為觸倒。陳語妻子曰:「虎吃人自係定數。我一家人八口,恐須有合受禍者,我今出外自當之。」妻子挽勸不聽。卽開門,見虎肋間帶一箭,手為之拔取。虎騰身哮吼,為感悅之狀而去。次夜,擲一野彘以報,自此絕跡。

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.

Tang Taizong’s Curly Whiskers 唐太宗虬髯

Emperor Taizong of the Tang (r. 626-49 CE) had curly whiskers from which a bow could be hung.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.19 (Tale 97):

唐太宗虬髯

唐太宗皇帝虬髯,可以掛弓。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) 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)

A Temple Spirit Becomes A Tiger 廟神化虎

In the Zhiyuan era, the guisi year (1293), in Nengling Village, in Yuanzhou, there was a small inn by the side of a road, with only an old woman and a boy living there. Every night after the second watch (9-11pm), a tiger would squat on top of the Spring Hall. It happened that, one evening, three or four soldiers came looking for accommodation, and when the woman turned them away because of the tiger, the military multitude said: “We have spears, swords, bows and arrows; we’re not scared of him.” She then gave them a room. When midnight came, the old woman said: “The tiger has come!” The assembled troops peeped at it from behind the window, and it was indeed so, so they fired several arrows. The tiger departed bearing several shafts. The following day the group of soldiers and the old woman followed the blood trail together and searched for tracks, eventually finding, on a statue at a temple to the heavenly judge, the arrows pulled out and crushed, the hair of pigs and dogs still on its belly, blood traces at the corners of its mouth. From then the tiger never returned.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.224 (Tale 398):

廟神化虎

至元癸巳,袁州能嶺村落間路旁有小店,惟一老婦同一子居之。每夜二更餘,有一虎蹲坐於春堂之上。忽一晚,有軍三四人來投宿,婦以虎卻之,衆軍曰: 「我有鎗刀弓箭,不怕他。」乃共宿一房。至中夜,月明,老婦曰:「虎來矣!」衆軍於窗內竊視之,果爾,遂連施數箭。虎帶箭而去。明日衆軍與老婦共隨血路而尋其蹤,乃在一廟判官身上,拔箭而擊碎之,腹中尚有豬犬毛,口角尚有血存,自此虎不復有矣。

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).

The ‘Horse-Headed Maiden’ 馬頭娘子

Long ago in Shu lived the Can Cong Emperor. Also, in the time of the Gao Xin Emperor, there lived a Lady Can; her family name is not known. When her father was robbed by some people, leaving only the horse on which she rode, she felt for her father and his inability to find food. Her mother therefore made an oath before the multitude: “If someone returns her father, they will be married to this girl.” The horse, hearing this speech, leapt up in alarm and shook itself with great haste, snapping its hobble and setting off. After several days the father was then able to ride back on the horse. From then on the horse neighed and neighed and would not accept the bit. The girl’s mother told her father about her oath, and he said: “Oaths to people are not promises to horses. How can a person be married to a different species? Having been able to solve our difficulties, its merit is indeed great, but the words of this oath cannot be put into practice.” The horse then bolted. The father grew angry and wanted to kill it, and when it ran further away, he shot it dead, drying its skin in the courtyard. The skin then kicked itself upright, wrapping up the girl and flying away. For ten nights the skin perched up a mulberry tree, and the girl transformed into a silkworm, eating mulberry leaves, making silk cocoons for human clothes and bedding. One day, the silkworm girl climbed the clouds and rose the horse, addressing her parents: “The Most High, because I did not neglect righteousness in either body or soul, has appointed me immortal attendant to the Nine Palaces. There is no return, but I will always cherish your memory.” It is customary in Shu that all Daoist temples sculpt a female figure draped in a horse skin, calling it the ‘Horse-head Maiden’, as a way of making offerings for silk production.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.76 (Tale 133):

馬頭娘子

蜀之先有蠶叢帝。又高辛時蜀有蠶女,不知姓氏,父為人所掠,惟所乘馬在。女念父不食。其母因誓於衆曰:「有得父還者,以此女嫁之。」馬聞其言,驚躍振迅,絕其物絆而去,數日父乃乘馬而歸。自此馬嘶鳴不肯齕。母以誓衆之言告父,父曰:「誓於人不誓於馬,安有人而偶非類乎?能脫我之難,功亦大矣!【所誓之言,不可行也。】(上八字據元刻本補。)」馬跑,父怒欲殺之,馬愈跑,父射殺之,曝其皮於庭。皮蹶然而起,卷女飛去。旬日皮寢棲於桑上,女化為蠶,食桑葉,吐絲成繭,以衣被於人間。一日,蠶女乘雲駕此馬,謂父母曰:「太上以我身心不忘義,授以九宮(「宮」原作「公」,據元刻本改。)仙嬪矣,無復憶念也。」蜀之風俗,宮觀諸處塑女像披馬皮,謂之「馬頭娘」,以祈蠶焉。

 

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).

This tale again involves the line between human and animal natures. The somewhat incoherent state of the Huhai telling, especially when compared to the Soushenji version, is notable. So is the Huhai version’s shift of responsibility and sympathy between parents (including the addition of the mother) and daughter. The more coherent, much earlier version in the Soushenji (abbreviated slightly- the last section of cross-references to horses and silk is omitted):

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), pp. 165-66:

Horse into Silkworm (14,350)

There is an old story which tells that in ancient times a man went on a long journey leaving no one at home save his daughter and a stallion which she had reared herself. Living in straitened circumstances and in a secluded place, she missed her father so much that she said to the stallion in jest: “If you find my father and bring him back for me, I’ll marry you!”

Immediately on hearing these words, that horse broke its tether and galloped off to where her father was. When the latter saw the horse, he was surprised and pleased and took him by the halter to mount him. The horse kept gazing back in the direction from whence he had come, whinnying in distress.

“Nothing has happened to this horse to make him behave so strangely. I wonder if things are not well at home?”

With that he mounted in haste and rode back. He began to take special care of the horse, which had shown such intelligence; he offered it extra fodder, which the horse refused to eat. However, every time the stallion saw the man’s daughter moving about, it would become excited and animated and rear and paw the earth. This happened many times and made the man so curious that he questioned his daughter in secret. She told him what she had said to the horse, adding, “This must be the reason.”

“Never speak of it again,” cried he, “for it will bring shame upon our family!” And you had best not go on and out as you were wont to do.” So saying, he secretly took his crossbow, slew the beast, skinned it, and hung the hide in his courtyard.

When he went a-journeying again, his daughter and a neighbor girl were playing with the hide. The daughter kicked it, crying, “You were nothing but a beast of burden, yet you thought to wed a human! You brought this death upon yourself, so you should feel no resentment!”

As she spoke, the hide rose up, wrapped itself around the daughter and galloped off. The neighbor girl was so frightened she could not lift a hand to help her friend, but fled and told the girl’s father. He returned to seek traces of the pair, but they had already disappeared.

[166]

After several days the girl and the horsehide were found bound together among the limbs of a tree where they had become a silkworm spinning itself a cocoon. This cocoon was large in diameter and length– very different from the ordinary kind. The women of the neighborhood gathered this kind of chrysalis and reared the worms to gain many times the profit they turned before.

Because of this story, people named the tree on which the girl and the horsehide were found, the sang tree [mulberry] because sang means lost. Everyone now cultivates this kind of tree, and the silkworm of today is descended from that first ancient cocoon.

Gan Bao 干寶, Soushenji 搜神記 (In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979), 14.172-73 (350):

舊說,太古之時,有大人遠征,家無餘人,唯有一女。牡馬一匹,女親養之。窮居幽處,思念其父,乃戲馬曰:「爾能為我迎得父還,吾將嫁汝。」馬既承此言,乃絕韁而去,徑至父所。父見馬驚喜,因取而乘之。馬望所自來,悲鳴不已。父曰:「此馬無事如此,我家得無有姑乎?」亟乘以歸。為畜生有非常之情,故厚加芻養。馬不肯食。每見女出入,輒喜怒奮擊。如此非一。父怪之,密以問女。女具以告父,必為是姑。父曰:「勿言,恐辱家門。且莫出入。」於是伏弩射殺之,暴皮于庭。父行,女與鄰女於皮所戲,以足蹙之曰:「汝是畜 [173] 生,而欲取人為婦耶?招此屠剥,如何自苦?」言未及竟,馬皮蹷然而起,卷女以行。隣女忙怕,不敢救之。走告其父。父還,求索,已出失之。後經數日,得於大樹枝間,女及馬皮,盡化為蠶,而績於樹上。其蠒綸理厚大,異於常蠶。鄰婦取而養之,其收數倍。因名其樹曰「桑」。桑者,喪也。由斯百姓競種之,今世所養是也。言桑蠶者,是古蠶之餘類也。

Another version of the story can also be found here: https://widowcranky.com/2017/11/19/chinese-unicorn-artist-unknown/, described as ‘the silkworm girl’. The tale is analysed in detail in Miller, Alan L., ‘The Woman Who Married a Horse: Five Ways of Looking at a Chinese Folktale’, Asian Folklore Studies, 54 (1995): 275-305 (available via JSTOR here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1178945).