The Xiao of Geshan 閣山𤡔

In the xinmao year of the Gandao era (1171 CE), no rain fell in Raozhou for a very long time, and the rivers’ flow was blocked. Three fishermen of Geshan Route went empty-handed to the Fan River to catch fish. Two went ahead, but one of them felt his two thighs suddenly turn cold as ice, feeling a slight trace of saliva, and, terrified lest there be the lair of a xiao beneath him, scrambled out urgently.[1] One person alone did not see this and, having told his family he would provide for them, stayed to return at dusk. Two days later, his corpse floated some five li distant, with a fist-sized hole below the left thigh, the whole body entirely white, that being due to a xiao having curled around it and sucked his blood. In shape the xiao is just like an eel, eight or nine chi in length (c.2.7m), and is a kind of flood dragon. Among the Geshan populace, one Li Shi once caught one of these.

Hong Mai, Yi Jian Zhi, ii, 丙17.509

閣山𤡔

亁道辛卯歲,饒州久不雨,江流皆澁。閣山道漁者三人,空手入番江捕魚。二人先出,其一覺兩股忽冷如冰,微有涎沫,懼𤡔穴其下,故急出。獨一人不見,告其家守之,至暮而還。後二日,尸浮於五里外,左股下一穴如拳大,舉體皆白,蓋為𤡔所繞而吮其血也。𤡔狀全與鰻鱺魚同,長至八九尺,亦蛟類也。閣山民李十嘗捕得之。

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

[1] The character xiao 𤡔 is treated by the MOE dictionary of character variants as a variation on xiao 梟 ‘owl’, but this story clearly indicates a rather interesting and different aquatic nature for the creature in question. See http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra01951.htm.

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Lightning Demolishes A Diviner’s Shop 雷撤卦肆

In Longquan County there was one Minister Si, who revered spirits and deities, and was devoted to good deeds. When Gan Yuan rebuilt the Jizhou Bridge, at the north gate he painted an image of the Heavenly King. There was a scholar Hu (his given name has been forgotten), who chiseled this out of the beam and moved it, renting it to Revisor Li as a sign for his divination business, where it was used to bring in profit. Hu Si brought the matter before the authorities as a lawsuit, but the circuit officials looked around and were afraid to make enquiries. Minister Si then took up the incense burner devoted to the Heavenly King, carried it around the town, and called on the heavens to curse him. Several days after, the skies darkened bringing rain and lightning, and the diviner’s shop was demolished. The townsfolk therefore named him ‘Hu King of Heaven’.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.106 (Tale 184):

雷撤卦肆

龍泉縣有四郎,敬信神佛,好為善事。幹緣再建濟州橋,於橋之北門繪一天王像。有胡學士不顯其名,鑿其梁柱,浮搭一間,賃與李祕校作卦肆以收利。胡四經官訟之,縣道觀望不敢問。四郎輒肩天王香鑪,繞市呼天以呪之。數日後,陰雨迅雷,竟撤卦肆。邑人以胡天王號之。

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).

Slaughtered Eels Take a Life 殺鱔取命

The Buddhist priest Zhang Daolong of the Guangxiao Temple had been addicted to eating eel since birth, claiming that the warm flesh could provide additional warmth, and the bones and blood be fed to hens. This continued for several years. One day, he bought a tub of eels, planning to kill them the following morning. That night he dreamt that there were several hundred eels in the tub and among them two grew to be very large, suddenly taking on human form, standing up before him and saying: “Our people have long filled your belly; now we demand your life.” Zhang hacked off their heads with a blade and awoke with a start, his whole body bathed in cold sweat, and spent the whole day in a miserable daze, entirely unaware of his disciples’ words. Two months later, hearing a rumour that the cavalry of the Pacification and Control Commissioner Zhao were approaching, the monks fled together, Zhang hanging back alone to cook and eat his eels before following. His soup was only just ready when the horsemen arrived, and Zhang was taken prisoner. Tortured, beaten and facing demands for silver and gold, he had nothing to give, so the cavalry force-fed him the boiling soup, killing him.

The priests of the He Temple use this to warn people not to eat eels. These eels may be very small things that look like worms, but at midnight they can raise their heads and face the north. Because the people of the world desire a tasty mouthful and a full stomach, these will be slaughtered in restaurants on any given day, the numbers of lives harmed reaching untold tens of thousands. The deliciousness and flavour in this world is boundless, what bitterness in their consumption! If we can be aware of this warning, and better still encourage its spread, then the lives of many things will be preserved and our own lifespan extended too; this is truly a greatly laudable act, and should be taken seriously and never forgotten.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.99 (Tale 170):

殺鱔取命

光孝宮道人章道隆,生平嗜食鱔魚,謂肉暖可以資補,骨血可以餧雞。如是數載。一日,買鱔一盆,方欲次早殺之。夜夢盆中鱔魚數百條,中有兩條至大,忽化人形,立於其前,曰:「我輩久飽爾腹,今就爾索命。」章用刀砍其頭而驚覺,遍身冷汗,終日恍惚以不樂,以言其徒弟,俱不之悟。越二日,傳聞趙招討軍馬到來,道衆皆避,獨章欲俟煮鱔喫,後走。煮湯方沸而軍馬亦到,章為所獲。拷掠需索金銀,無可應付,為軍人以煮鱔湯灌口而死。自是合宮道士戒不食鱔。夫鱔至微之物,其形如蟲,夜半尚能矯首朝北。世人慾一甘口飽腹,與夫食肆一日所殺,不知所害幾萬命矣。世間珍味無限,何苦而食之!若能知戒,更加廣勸,則物得活命,而我壽亦延,實一大美事,宜信之毋忘。

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).