Strange Events in Xuanhe (1119-25) 宣和怪事

During the Zhenghe era (1111-18) in the reign of the Song emperor Huizong (1100-25), a thing as big as a sitting-mat appeared at night in the imperial bedroom. Whenever it emerged this was preceded by a sound as if the room were being torn apart. It would then manifest, more than a zhang (3.33m) across, shaped somewhat like a turtle, making a clanging noise as it moved, but, shrouded in a dark mist, it could not be seen clearly. A bloody miasma spread around it to all four directions, and weapons had no effect against it. Further, it sometimes changed into human form, or that of a donkey, and could speak with a human voice. Many times it appeared in residences for the palace staff, and once appeared within the inner halls. Despite occultist scholars repeatedly banning it remained unaffected. Later on people grew accustomed to the presence, and felt no great fear.

In the fourth year of the Xuanhe era (1122), Jin people captured the Central Capital, and the Song sent the Imperial Preceptor Tong Guan (1054-1126) to lead the army against them. At that time a white halo ringed the sun and every night streams of meteors crossed the Heavenly Ford and the Herdsman, jumping the Milky Way, the Big Dipper and Altair and hurtling together into the south.

When the armies engaged, there was a huge earthquake in Xiongzhou, and a horse grew two horns of four chi (a chi is about 33.cm), and grew huge. The imperial guard presented this to the throne, and it was thought to be a horse-dragon.

In the first moon of the sixth year (19 January to 16 February, 1124), an earthquake shook the eastern capital, and later another earthquake was felt in Sanhe; sounds of quaking came from the gate of the imperial palace’s central chamber. In Hedong and Shanyou this was especially pronounced, and in the Lanzhou region trees and plants on the various mountains were swallowed by the earth, while wheat seedlings sown in the valleys rose upon the peaks.[1]

In the eighth moon of the seventh year (31 August to 28 September, 1125), a vegetable seller, on reaching the Xuande Gate, suddenly became confused and returned, pointing his finger at the gate and saying: “You have ruined our country! Our Supreme Ancestor the Shenzong Emperor set us on the way; we can still change back to that.” Soldiers on patrol seized him and locked him in the Kaifeng jail; none understood his speech, and within a single evening he had died in prison.[2]

One day, as the emperor entered the Xuanhe Hall, the ground caved in.[3] On the first day of the first moon a statue of a deity in the Jingling Palace was seen to shed tears. Clerks on duty in the imperial ancestral temple heard the sound of weeping, and on inspection found blood emerging from the bricks, seeping out again when it was swept away; all of this continued over several days.[4]

On Wansui Peak a group of foxes were seen to toast one another; it was ordered that they be beaten, but they [57] scattered. A fox emerged from a prison in the northeast and entered the palace precincts, seating itself on the imperial divan.[5]

In the twelfth moon (27 December, 1125 to 24 January, 1126), the Grand Secretary Wu Min submitted a memorial to the throne: “The capital has heard that enemies are making a great incursion and people’s sensibilities are shaken. Some want to flee, some want to mount a defence, some want to rebel over it; if these three types have to coexist within the country, the realm must be destroyed. Your servant has often prayed in the ancestral temple, and received a dream, but does not dare to report its content.” The emperor said: “Do not fear this.” Min said: “Your servant has often dreamed of a river, to its north, a coil-haired golden-bodied Buddha, its length reaching the borders of heaven. To the south of the water, a jade figure with an iron-hooped fish basket, called Mengzi by the people. To the south of Mengzi is a body of water, and to the south of that a mountain slope, and your servant was on that, people called it ‘Taishang Mountain’. Your servant once said to himself: “That to the north of the water is Hebei, that to the south Henan. The Buddha represents the Jin, and the Taishang Your Majesty, but it is not clear what Mengzi means. Some among the Central Secretariat have instructed your servant: ‘This Mengzi represents the imperial eldest son.’” There was thus a consultation on establishing the crown prince.

In the eleventh moon, offerings were made in the southern suburbs, and when the ceremony was complete the emperor descended from the altar and received a report from the frontier. When the imperial progress reached the Duancheng Hall of the Jiao Palace the dawn light was not yet clear. The various officials came forward to make their congratulations but suddenly heard the hoot of an owl from the roof of the hall, as if making its obeisances; those who heard it were shocked. No more than a month later, the emperor abdicated and suddenly went south. The following year, the city fell, the realm was humiliated, and this all took place in the Duancheng Hall.

Anon., , Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.56-57 (Tale 99):

宣和怪事

宋徽宗朝政和年間,有物大如席,夜見寢殿上。每出則先若裂屋摧倒聲,然後現形,廣丈餘,狀髣髴如龜,行動硜硜有聲,黑氣蒙蒙,不大了了。氣之所及,腥血四灑,兵刃皆不能施。又或變為人、為驢形,得人語聲則作矣。多在掖庭宮人所居之地,亦嘗及內殿。雖方士屢禁,自若,後習為常,人亦不大怖。宣和四年,金人陷中京,宋遣太師童貫出師,是時白虹貫日,連夕有流星犯天津、河鼓,越天漢、斗牛,皆向南奔曳。及用兵,雄州地大震,馬生角長二尺四,皆出距。貫以進御,以為龍馬。六年正月,東都地震,後三河又震,宮中殿門震動作聲。河東、陝右尤甚,蘭州地及諸山草木悉没入地,山下麥苗乃在山上。七年八月,有賣菜夫至宣德門,忽迷歸,向門戟手指而言曰:「汝壞吾社稷矣!太祖神宗皇帝使我來道,尚宜速改也。」邏卒捕下開封獄,一夕已省,不知所云,特於獄中盡之。一日帝御宣和殿,地陷。朔旦見景靈宮神像有淚,吏守太廟者聞哭聲,即之,乃神宗廟室有塼出血,隨掃又出,數日方止。萬歲山上羣狐杯酌對飲,敕拍之,皆 [57] 散。有一狐自艮獄來,入宮禁,於御榻而坐。十二月,給事中吳敏奏曰:「今京師聞虜人大入,人情震動,有欲出走者,有欲守者,有欲因而返者,以三種人共守一國,國必破。臣常私禱於宗廟,得之夢寐,不敢奏陳。」上曰:「無妨。」敏曰: 「臣常夢水之北,螺髻金身之佛,其長際天。水之南,鐵籠罩一玉像,人謂之孟子。孟子之南又一水,水南有山陂陁,而臣在其間,人曰『太上山』。臣嘗私解之曰:『水北河北也,南者江南也,佛者金人,太上陛下也,但不曉所謂孟子。有中書舍人席益諭臣曰:『孟子者,元子也。』」遂定立太子之議。十一月祀南郊,禮畢,降壇而得邊報。及上御郊宮之端誠殿,時天未明,百辟方稱賀,忽有鴟鴞嗚於殿屋之上,若贊拜聲,聞者駭之。未踰月,內禪,俄而南幸。明年城陷,國家被辱,皆在端誠殿焉。

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).

[1] A parallel account is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), p. 101:

In the intercalary month, there was an earthquake in the capital, and the buildings of the palace complex shook and rumbled audibly. Trees and vegetation on the mountains in both Shaanxi and Lanzhou sank into the earth. Cultivated crops which had once grown below the mountains now grew atop them. The court sent Huang Qianshan to handle the situation; but he returned with nothing but misleading reports and never revealed the true state of affairs to his superiors.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), p. 79:

閏月,京師地震,宮中殿門皆搖動有聲。又陝西、蘭州諸山草木皆沒入地中;其黍苗在山下者,又生於山上。朝廷遣黃潛善按視,潛善歸謂訛傳,不以實聞於上。

[2] A parallel account is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), pp. 102-3:

In the eighth month, a produce vendor from the eastern suburbs of the [103] capital suddenly appeared at the Gate of Virtue Proclaimed and threw a fit. He dropped his carrying pole and hacked at the gate with his hands, crying, “Emperors Taizu and Shenzong bade me come here. The Eighth Son’s pride and extravagance are bringing the nation to ruin. There’s still time for him to change his ways, however, if he does so quickly. Otherwise, his regrets will be too late!” The guard arrested him and took him off to the city jail. He came to his senses later that evening. He was interrogated time and time again, yet he had no recollection of what he had said. He was secretly executed in the prison.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), p. 80:

八月,有都城東門外賣菜夫突入宣德門下,忽若迷罔,將菜擔拋棄,向門戟手而言曰:「太祖皇帝、神宗皇帝使我來到。八郎驕奢喪國,尚宜速改也!不爾,悔無及矣!」邏卒捕其人赴開封府獄。一夕,其人方甦,再三詢問,竟不知向所言者。密於獄中殺之。

[3] Another parallel account, dated to the twelfth moon of the first year Chonghe (roughly February-March 1119) is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 40:

In the twelfth month, the emperor installed Wang Fu and other holders of the Secret Seal in the palace. On the day when he went to the Palace of Proclaiming Harmony, the ground there caved in.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, p. 28:

十二月,御殿度王黼等祕籙。徽宗一日御宣和殿,地陷。

[4] A parallel account is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 103:

On the fifteenth day of the first month in that year, tears appeared on the statue of the first emperor in the Temple of Refulgent Spirits. The temple watchmen said they often heard weeping within the temple. One day, blood began to seep through the bricks in the changing room of Emperor Shenzong. As soon as it was wiped away, more would appear. This went on continuously for several days. Cai Jing and his cronies were so concerned with flattery and sycophancy that when they heard about this strange phenomenon they were too timid to tell the emperor about it, and his arrogant and prodigal behaviour grew worse.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, pp. 28-29:

宣和元年,正月朔旦,朝見景靈喀,見聖祖神像有淚。守廟官吏聞之廟內常有哭聲。一日,神宗皇帝廟室便殿,有甎出血,隨掃又出,數日方止。是時蔡京等方事諛佞,有此異事,皆 [29] 不敢聞奏於上。而徽宗驕奢之行愈肆矣。

[5] Another parallel is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 103:

At about that time, a pack of foxes from Longevity Mountain settled into the palace and had a drinking party. Soldiers were sent to drive the foxes out, but they temporized and would not go. In the ninth month, foxes from Upright Hill entered the inner palace and sat on the throne. The majordomo of the palace sent the attendant Zhang Shan to drive them out, but he procrastinated and would not go. Huizong knew in his heart this was not a very auspicious sign. But Cai You twisted the argument around and said that it was because the Fox King wanted blood that these things had happened. So an edict was issued ordering the destruction of the Fox King’s temple.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, pp. 80-81:

是時萬歲山羣狐於宮殿間陳設器皿對飲,遣兵士逐之,徬徨不去。九月,有狐自艮岳山 [81] 直入中禁,據御榻而坐;殿帥遣殿司張山逐之,徘徊不去。徽宗心知其為不祥之徵,而蔡攸曲為邪說,稱艮岳有狐王求血食乃爾。遂下詔毀狐王廟。

 

Rain Hat and Rice Husk 青笠米皮

Ying Long, the talented scholar from Zou, once said:

In Yu Borough there is Ruiguang Crag, a little over ten li from the county seat, and in it there is the platform where the prime minister Li Gang (1083-1140) used to read. Long ago on the crag there was a monk called Danxia [56], who was able to predict the future. One day he went to visit the monk, knocked on his door, and received a note that read: “The rain hat, removing the rice husk, in this season, will be truly radiant.” Later the gentleman served as prime minister, during the Jingkang 靖康 era (1126-27). These words can therefore be understood and verified: the ‘rain hat’ (qingliruo 青笠箬) is Jing 靖; ‘removing the rice husk’ 米去皮 makes kang 康.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.55-56 (Tale 98):

青笠米皮

鄒狀元應龍嘗謂:予里中有瑞光巖,去縣十餘里,中有丞相李綱讀書臺。昔巖中有僧丹霞 [56] 者,能前知。一日訪僧,扣之,乃書云:「青箬笠,米去(「米去」原作「去米」,據元刻本改。)皮,此時節,正光輝。」後公於靖康年作相。因知此言之驗,青笠箬靖也,米去皮康也。

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).