Jia Yong 賈雍

The prefectural chief of Yuzhang, Jia Yong, possessed magical arts. On a cross-border expedition to punish bandits, he was killed by the enemy. Headless, he mounted his horse and returned to the camp. A voice emerged from his chest to report: “The battle was lost, and I have been injured by the bandits. All you gentlemen, look! Am I more handsome with a head, or headless?” His clerk, told him, tearfully: “With a head is better.” Yong said: “Not true. Headless is handsome too.” Having spoken, he died.

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, 321.2548:

賈雍 豫章太守賈雍。有神術。出界討賊。為賊所殺。失頭。上馬回營。胸中語曰。戰不利。為賊所傷。諸君視有頭佳乎。無頭佳乎。吏涕泣曰。有頭佳。雍曰。不然。無頭亦佳。言畢遂死。

Liu Qingsong 劉青松

Liu Qingsong, of Guangling, rose one morning and saw a person wearing court robes and bearing a placard. It summoned him to serve as prefectural chief for Lu. Having finished speaking it immediately departed. Following it out he found that it had entirely vanished. The next day it came again, and told him: “The gentleman should reply promptly and go to his post.” Qingsong realized that he was due to die, so went inside, informed his wife and children, straightened up the family’s affairs and bathed. At the bu period (3-5pm), he saw a carriage and horses waiting with clerks to right and left. Qingsong then suddenly passed away. His family witnessed him climb onto the carriage, which travelled south for a hundred paces or more then gradually ascended and vanished.

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, 321.2545:

劉青松

廣陵劉青松。晨起。見一人著公服。齎板云。召為魯郡太守。言訖便去。去後亦不復見。至來日復至。曰。君便應到職。青松知必死。入告妻子。處分家事。沐浴至晡。見車馬吏侍左右。青松奄忽而絕。家人咸見其升車。南出百餘步。漸高而沒。出幽明錄

Yao Niu 姚牛

The villager Yao Niu, from Xu County, was a little over ten years old when his father was killed by a fellow villager. Niu sold his clothes and bought weapons, planning to take revenge. He subsequently encountered the villager before the county gate, and stabbed him amidst the crowd. When he was captured by the clerks, the chief official felt a deep sympathy for his filial piety, allowing the case to be delayed. At the next amnesty he received a pardon. The prefectural authorities had submitted requests to the emperor on his behalf, so his treatment was unique.

Some time later, the magistrate went hunting, pursuing a deer into a wild place where there were many deep and ancient wells. His horse was about to advance into one of these when he suddenly saw an old man, who raised his staff and struck the horse. The magistrate’s mount drew up, alarmed, losing the chance to reach the deer, [2539] but a servant drew a bow to shoot it. The old man told them: “There is a well here; I was afraid the gentleman would fall in.” The magistrate asked him: “Who are you?” The old man knelt straight-backed, and told him: “I am the father of Min Yao Niu. I am grateful for the gentleman saving Niu, and came to offer my thanks.” He then vanished from sight.

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, 320.2538-39:

姚牛

須縣民姚牛。年十餘。父為鄉人所殺。牛嘗賣〈賣原作殺。據明鈔本改。〉衣服。市刀戟。圖欲報讎。後在縣門前相遇。手刃之於衆中。吏擒得。官長深矜孝節。為推遷其事。會赦得免。又為州郡論救。遂得無他。令後出獵。逐鹿入草中。有古深井數處。馬將趣之。忽見一翁。舉杖擊馬。馬驚避。不得及鹿。 [2539] 令奴引弓將射之。翁曰。此中有井。悲君墮耳。令曰。汝為何人。翁長跽曰。民姚牛父也。感君活牛。故來謝。因滅不見。出幽明錄

Wu Shiji 吳士季

The Governor of Jiaxing Wu Shiji once suffered a feverish ague. Boarding a boat he passed the Wuchang Temple, and sent people to make apologetic offerings and beg that it repel the ague-spirit.[1] He then travelled more than twenty li from the temple. Within his cabin, he suddenly dreamed that a rider was pursuing him along an embankment, seeming to move with extreme speed. On seeing Shiji it dismounted and boarded the boat along with a clerk. It then tied up a small boy and took him away. At that the feverish ague was cured.

From Luyichuan.

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, 318.2519:

吳士季

嘉興令吳士季者。曾患瘧。乘船經武昌廟過。遂遣人辭謝。乞斷瘧鬼焉。既而去廟二十餘里。寢際。忽夢塘上有一騎追之。意甚疾速。見士季乃下。與一吏共入船後。縛一小兒將去。既而瘧疾遂愈。出錄異傳


[1] This is the nüegui 瘧鬼, or Apasmāra, a demon blamed for malarial illness.

Wu Xiang 吳祥

The Han-era clerk of Zhuji County, Wu Xiang, feared exhaustion in official service. He thus fled to hide in a remote mountain area. On his journey he came across a stream. It was getting close to dusk, but he saw a young girl, extremely beautiful and wearing multi-coloured garments. She said: “I live alone, without village or district, with only an old woman, only a dozen or so steps from here.” When Xiang heard this he was very pleased, so set off following her. They had travelled a li or more when they reached her home. Her family were extremely poor, but prepared food for Xiang. He finished by the first watch (7-9pm), at which he heard an old woman call out: “Sister Zhang?” The girl answered: “Yes?” Xiang asked who it had been, and she replied: “A lonely old woman back along the road.” The two slept together until dawn, and Xiang set off at the cock’s crow. The two had fallen in love, and the young woman gave him a purple scarf. Xiang bound it as a kerchief and set off back to the place of their meeting the previous day. When he came to cross the stream, however, the water was rushing violently, and too deep to wade. He thus returned to the girl’s home, but found nothing as it had been the previous night, with only a tomb remaining.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 317.2505:

吳祥

漢諸暨縣吏吳祥者。憚役委頓。將投竄深山。行至一溪。日欲暮。見年少女子。彩衣甚美。云。我一身獨居。又無鄉里。唯有一孤嫗。相去十餘步耳。祥聞甚悅。便即隨去。行一里餘。即至女家。家甚貧陋。為祥設食。至一更竟。聞一嫗喚云。張姑子。女應曰。諾。祥問是誰。答云。向所道孤嫗也。二人共寢至曉。雞鳴祥去。二情相戀。女以紫巾贈祥。祥以布手巾報。行至昨夜所遇處。過溪。其夜水暴溢。深不可涉。乃回向女家。都不見昨處。但有一冢耳。出法苑珠林

Zhou Shi 周式

Zhou Shi lived in Xiapei under the Han. He once travelled to Donghai, and along the way he encountered a clerk, carrying a book, who asked for a lift on his carriage. After they had travelled a little over ten li, he spoke to Shi: “I have to pay a quick visit. I will leave my book in the gentleman’s care. See that you do not open it.” When he had departed, Shi stealthily opened and examined the book. It recorded all of the people’s deaths, and Shi’s name was right there in the lower column. Before long the clerk returned, and Shi was still looking at the book. The clerk addressed him angrily: “This is why I told you! Why would you suddenly start to look at it?” Shi kowtowed until blood flowed from his head. After some time of this the clerk told him: “I am grateful that the gentleman brought me so far, but this book cannot be altered. The gentleman will depart today. Go home. Do not leave your door for three years, and you will be reprieved. Do not speak of having seen my book.” Shi returned home and did not leave.

More than two years passed. His family all thought this very strange. When a neighbour passed away, his father became very angry, and ordered him to go to mourn, leaving Shi unable to refuse. When he passed through the gate, he immediately encountered the clerk, who told him: “I ordered you not to leave for three years, but today you emerge from your gate. What option do I have? I tried to prevent you looking, and arranged a continuous punishment, but now I see you, and have no choice. In three days’ time, we will come for you.” Shi returned weeping, and recounted the whole matter. His father still did not believe him, but his mother watched over him, weeping day and night. When high noon arrived on the third day, they did indeed take him, and he died immediately.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 316.2504:

周式

漢下邳周式。嘗至東海。道逢一吏。持一卷書。求寄載。行十餘里。謂式曰。吾暫有所過。留書寄君船中。慎勿發之。去後。式盜發視書。皆諸死人錄。下條有式名。須臾吏還。式猶視書。吏怒曰。故以相告。何忽視之。式扣頭流血。良久曰。感卿遠相載。此書不可除。卿今日已去。還家。三年勿出門。可得度也。勿道見吾書。式還不出。已二年餘。家皆怪之。鄰人卒亡。父怒。使往弔之。式不得止。適出門。便見此吏。吏曰。吾令汝三年勿出。而今出門。知復奈何。吾求不見。連相為得鞭杖。今已見汝。無可奈何。後三日日中。當相取也。式還涕泣。具道如此。父故不信。母晝夜與相守涕泣。至三日日中時。見來取。便死。出法苑珠林

Gongsun Da 公孫達

During the Ganlu era,[1] Gongsun Da of Renchen died in office at Chen Prefecture. When they were about to prepare him for burial, his sons, together with the prefectural clerks, numbering several dozen people, were approaching the funeral scene when his five-year-old son began to speak in tongues, sounding just like his father. He scolded the people gathered for only weeping, and then called out to all his sons as a further warning. His sons and the rest were unable to control their grief, so he comforted and encouraged them:

The fortune of the four seasons,

Still has beginning and end.

Human life may be cut short,

Who can avoid this fate?

If the tongue makes a thousand words,

All should accord with the hidden meaning.

His sons questioned him again: “Nothing is known of any who have died. The intelligence of Your Excellency is a unique exception. Are there deities and spirits?” He replied: “The matter of spirits and deities is beyond your knowledge.” He then requested paper and brush, and he wrote. Having filled the page with meaningful poetry, he tossed it to the ground and died.

From Lieyizhuan.

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, 316.2499:

公孫達

任城公孫達。甘露中。陳郡卒官。將斂。兒及郡吏數十人臨喪。達五歲兒。忽作靈語。音聲如父。呵衆人哭止。因呼諸子。以次教誡。兒等悲哀不能自勝。及慰勉之曰。四時之運。猶有始終。人修短殊。誰不致此。語千餘言。皆合文章。兒又問曰。人亡皆無所知。唯大人聰明殊特。有神靈耶。答曰。鬼神之事。非爾所知也。因索紙筆作書。辭義滿紙。投地遂絕。出列異傳

[1] The Ganlu 甘露 era could refer to either 53-50 BCE, 254-59 CE, 265-66 CE, or 359-64 CE.

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

Chen Deyu 陳德遇

In a xinhai year, the collaborator official to the Jiangnan Treasury Chen Jurang, courtesy name Deyu, spent nights in the treasury. His wife remained at home. At the beginning of the fifth watch (around 3am), she suddenly dreamed that two clerks, carrying documents in their hands, emerged from their gate and entered, asking whether that was the household of Chen Deyu. She said: “Indeed.” “Where is Deyu?” “At the treasury.” The clerks were about to depart, but his wife followed and called to them: “My husband’s courtesy name is Deyu, that’s all. There is an official of the Treasury of Court Vestments named Chen Deyu, and his house is nearby at Dongqu.” The two clerks looked at one another and exclaimed: “There have been some errors!” They then left. Soon after, Deyu arose one morning and went to the toilet. He remarked to himself that he had become ill, and went back to bed. Some time after that he died. The two men both lived to the west of the administrative centre.

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:

陳德遇

辛亥歲。江南偽右藏庫官陳居讓字德遇。直宿庫中。其妻在家。五更初。忽夢二吏。手把文書。自門而入。問此陳德遇家耶。曰。然。德遇何在。曰。在庫中。吏將去。妻追呼之曰。家夫〈夫原作父。據明鈔本、許本改。〉字德遇耳。有主衣庫官陳德遇者。家近在東曲。二吏相視而嘻曰。幾誤矣。遂去。邇日。德遇晨起如廁。自云有疾。還臥。良久遂卒。二人並居治城之西。出稽神錄

Huang Yanrang 黃延讓

The Jiankang clerk Huang Yanrang once held a drinking party at home. When night fell his guests dispersed. He was not very drunk, but suddenly felt his body start to float, and flew away, unable to stop himself. After travelling for what was likely more than ten li, he reached a large mansion. All was still and nobody was around. Before the house was a small building. Within this building was a bed; Yanrang was extremely tired, so lay down upon it. When he awoke, he was lying among grasses before Jiangshan, beyond the Zhongcheng moat. Due to his distracted state he fell ill, and it was more than a year before he recovered.

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, 353.2799:

黃延讓

建康吏黃延讓嘗飲酒於親家。迨夜而散。不甚醉。恍然而身浮。飄飄而行。不能自制。行可十數里。至一大宅。寂然無人。堂前有一小房。房中有牀。延讓困甚。因寢牀上。及寤。乃在蔣山前草間。踰重城複塹矣。因恍惚得疾。歲餘乃愈。出稽神錄