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 Wudu Woman 武都女

In Wudu there was a man who transformed into a woman, beautiful and elegant. This woman was an elemental.[1] The prince of Shu accepted her as a concubine, but she was not accustomed to the climate, so wished to leave. Her host, wishing to keep her, played songs from Dongping to cheer her up. Before long, however, she had passed away. The prince mourned her, and sent five strong fellows to Wudu, picking up earth to make a grave mound for his concubine. The earth mound covered several mu (a mu equals 6.67 acres), and rose seven zhang in height (about 25m), and upon it there was a stone mirror. Today this is Wudan, at the north edge of Chengdu.

From Huayangguozhi.

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, 359.2839:

武都女

武都有一丈夫。化為女子。美而豔。蓋女〈明鈔本女作山〉精也。蜀王納為妃。不習水土。欲去。主留之。乃為東平之歌以樂之。無幾物故。王哀之。乃遣五丁之武都。擔土為妃作塚。蓋地數畝。高七丈。上有石鏡。今成都北角〈角原作商。據明鈔本改。〉武擔是也。出華陽國志

[1] The character used here is jing 精, which carries a wide range of meanings, including ‘spirit’, ‘goblin’ and ‘demon’. Possibly overstating a distinction between gui 鬼 and jing, I had originally opted for ’demon’ here, but reconsidered this after the ever-helpful Ofer Waldman suggested that ‘spirit’ was less likely to be confused with the yao 妖 ‘demon’ of the chapter heading. After consulting Schafer’s translation of the Taiping guangji table of contents, I have decided (with reservations) to follow his ‘elemental’ reading for jing 精, in order to avoid involving a connotation of evil to the character. See Edward Schafer, ‘The Table of Contents of the “T’ai p’ing kuang chi”,’ CLEAR 2 (1980), 258-63 (262).

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

Li Yun 李雲

The former county official of Nanzheng Li Yun wished to take in a concubine in Chang’an, but her mother would not allow it. Yun said: “I give my oath that I shall not marry.” She therefore permitted it, and he named the concubine Chu Bin. After several years the concubine died. A number of years having passed after her death, he married the lady Chen, daughter of the former Governor of Nanzheng. On the day of the wedding, Yun was washing in the bathroom when he saw Chu Bin approaching bearing a dose of medicine. She came right up and addressed Yun: “You promised me you would not marry, but now you make yourself son-in-law to the Chen household. I have nothing to present as a gift, but grant a bundle of fragrance to add to your hot bath.” She poured all of the medicine into the bathtub, stirred it with a hairpin, and then left. Yun was greatly unsettled by this, but, becoming very tired, was unable to climb out of the tub. His limbs and torso dissolved like cotton, his bones and muscles dispersed.

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:

李雲

前南鄭縣尉李雲。於長安求納一姬。其母未許。雲曰。予誓不婚。乃許之。號姬曰楚賓。數年後。姬卒。卒後經歲。遂婚前南鄭令沈氏女。及婚日。雲及浴於淨室。見楚賓執一藥來。徑前。謂雲曰。誓余不婚。今又與沈家作女壻。無物奉。贈君香一帖。以資浴湯。瀉藥末入浴斛中。釵子攪水訖而去。雲甚覺不安。困羸不能出浴。遂卒。肢體如棉。筋骨並散。出聞奇錄

A Beauty 玉兒(當是其名)

In the Taiyuan temple college there used to be a ghostly woman, who had been the concubine of Judicial Commissioner Song Danyi, but had, due to the envy of his wife, been beaten to death and buried where she fell next to the school; a mulberry tree sprouted on the spot. The spirit would sometimes enter the temple hostel, and make jokes with people; it was quite unlike a haunting. During the Dading era (1161-89 CE), there were several people staying overnight and studying in the room, and, after the third watch (i.e., at about 1am), they suddenly heard the sound of footsteps outside the window. Before long she had entered the room, going about and touching all those who slept there, saying ‘this one will pass’, ‘this one won’t pass’. Soon after, she said “Don’t be alarmed, don’t be alarmed.” When the time came, all came out as she had said.

Education Intendant Ma Chizheng reported that those sleepers were Zhao Wenqing, Duan Guohua and Guo Jizhi.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 1.12:

玉兒(當是其名)

太原廟學,舊有鬼婦人,是宋旦一提刑妾,為正室妒,捶而死,倒埋學旁,其處有桑生焉。此鬼時入齋舍,與人戲語,然不為祟也。大定中,有數人夜宿時習齋,三更後,忽聞窗外履聲,須臾,入齋,以手遍拊睡者,云此人及第,此人不及第。既而曰:「休驚休驚也。」及至後,皆如其言。

學正馬持正說,睡者趙文卿、段國華、郭及之。

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)

Secret Virtue Makes A Number One Scholar 陰騭狀元

Ping Jing, courtesy name Dangshi, was from Xianning in Ezhou. His father was a merchant, and, when he was in the prime of life but lacking children, he was about to depart for the capital when his wife gave him several silver tablets and said: “The gentleman does not yet have a son; take these as the means to buy a concubine.” When he reached the capital, he bought a concubine, drew up a contract and paid over the money. When he asked the concubine where she came from, she shed tears but refused to speak. When he asked her more firmly, she then said her father held office, but, having suffered shortfalls in his transported goods, had sold her into concubinage as a plan to repay the losses. Grieved by this, he could not bear to touch her, and sent her back to her father, without insisting on the return of his money. When he returned, his wife asked: “Where is the concubine you bought?” He told her the whole story. His wife said: “If the gentleman uses his heart like this, why worry about lacking a son?” Several months later, his wife became pregnant. When the due date drew near, the villagers dreamt that the air was filled with drumming and trumpeting, greeting the number one scholar arriving at the Ping household. The next morning, Jing was born. Taking delight in reading, he came first (yuan) in the provincial examinations, came first (yuan) in the metropolitan examination, and achieved first place (yuan) in the overall ranking; his contemporaries called him ‘Ping Three-Yuan’.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前 2.108 (Tale 187):

陰騭狀元

馮京,字當世,鄂州咸寧人。其父商也,壯歲無子,將如京師,其妻授以白金數笏,曰:「君未有子,可以此為買妾之資。」及至京師,買一妾,立券償錢矣。問妾所自來,涕泣不肯言。固問之,乃言其父有官,因綱運欠折,鬻妾以為賠償之計。遂惻然不忍犯,遣還其父,不索其錢。及歸,妻問:「買妾安在?」具告以故。妻曰:「君用心如此,何患無子!」居數月,妻有娠。將誕,里人皆夢鼓吹喧闐迎狀元至馮家。次早,生京。喜讀書,領舉為解元,省試為省元,登第為狀元,世號為馮三元。

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).

Yan Gen’s Concubine 嚴根妾

During the reign of Zhang Gui (254-314 CE) of the Former Liang, a concubine belonging to Yan Gen, Governor of Fuhan, gave birth. In the same night she bore a daughter, a dragon and a falcon.[1]

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 22 (上1.3)

嚴根妾

前梁張軌時,枹罕令嚴根妾產,同夕產一女、一龍、一鷙。

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)

[1] The Jinshu 晉書 (Book of the Jin) mentions this same incident, dating it to the fifth month of the fifth year Yongjia (3 June to 2 July, 311 CE; under the Western Jin), and reporting a response, linking such anomalous births to military chaos. See Jinshu 29.909:

五年五月,枹罕令嚴根妓產一龍,一女,一鵝。京房易傳曰:「人生他物,非人所見者,皆為天下大兵。」是時,帝承惠皇之後,四海沸騰,尋而陷於平陽,為逆胡所害,此其徵也。

Taking Pills, Getting Ulcers 服丹發疽

The household of Instructor Ding Guang of Baozhou included many attendants and concubines, and he was deeply committed to wine and sexual pleasure. At that time there was a Daoist passing through the prefecture, who claimed to be a hundred years old and able to smelt great pills, the taking of which enabled the fulfilment of all sensual desires while retaining good health without danger of illness, and allowing later transcendent elevation to the heavens. The prefectural head provided him with accommodation, and presented his compliments. On a selected day, the pill baking began, smelting following his specific method, and after forty-nine days it was finished, its spirit-gleam illuminating the heavens. They arranged a banquet with music to celebrate together, planning to take the pills afterwards. When Guang heard of this, he wrote a letter to be presented, begging to be allowed a measure for his own recuperation. The Daoist was unwilling, due to his common bones, but the prefectural head begged that his request be fulfilled, so he received a half portion, and Guang took it with delight. Several days later, the prefectural commander and magistrate developed ulcers on their backs. The Daoist fled by night, and the prefectural head reported death after death. Guang himself developed boils on his waist, and became terrified, drinking yellow earth water to relieve it, and eventually recovered. The following year, he again developed a hot rash, and therefore soaked himself in a bath; when water entered the sores, he could no longer rise. Cinnabar poisoning is sometimes like this, so we record it here, as a warning to the public.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.104 (Tale 180):

服丹發疽

保州教授丁廣,家多侍妾,以酒色沉縱。會有道人過郡,自言數百歲,能煉大丹,服之可以飽嗜欲,而康健無疾,然後飛昇度世。守貳館之,以先生之禮事之。選日創丹竈,依其法煉之,四十九日而成,神光燭天。置酒大合樂相慶,然後嘗之。廣聞之,裁書以獻,乞取刀圭,以養病者。道人以其骨凡不肯與,守貳憐之為請,僅得半粒,廣欣然服之。不數日,郡將、通判皆疽發於背。道人宵遁,守貳相繼告殂。廣腰間生一癤,甚皇恐,飲地漿解之,得愈。明年,復作熱躁,因澡身,水入瘡囗,不能起。金石之毒,有如此者,故書於此,以為世戒也。

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).

Envy Harms Pregnancies 妒害胎孕

Wu Jieran came from Huangxi. His wife was fiercely jealous, and had had no children. His four concubines all became pregnant, and his wife, envious, dosed them with poison, leaving them infertile. The four concubines having married, their wombs were afflicted by the poison, and all were left without children. One evening, Wu saw a deity in his dream, who said: “Your wife has excessive envy in her heart. She has now harmed four concubines and left them childless. You have a son, and he too will therefore have a shortened life, and will preside over a lineage without descendants.” Afterwards Jieran did indeed have a son, but died that very day. The Wu lineage was then severed, alas.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 164):

妒害胎孕

吳介然,黃溪人。妻妒悍,無子。有四妾皆孕,妻妒忌,投毒藥之,率皆不育。其四妾適人,胎宮為藥毒,亦皆無子。一夕,吳夢一神人曰:「爾妻妒心太過,今誤四妾無子。爾有一子,亦因而促壽,將亦主絕嗣。」後介然有一子,果天喪,吳家亦為之絕,哀哉!

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).

 

Envy Drowns Sons and Grandsons 妒溺子孫

Li Zhengzou had a daughter-in-law from the Zhao family, who was extremely fierce. She had a son, but on reaching the age of seven he lacked intelligence and Li was extremely disappointed. His son had four concubines, all of whom became pregnant, and the old man said: “Even if I have ten grandchildren, educate them, do not drown them.” When Zhao heard this she became extremely resentful. Waiting until the old man and her husband left, Zhao called for the concubines and rebuked them, asking who had made them pregnant. The concubines said: “The old master.” Zhao said: “If you say that the master got you pregnant, you will be given a heavy flogging and married out to live among the distant wastes, going without money or clothing. If you say that it was a servant, you will then be spared a beating, you will be married out in a good place, and receive generous gifts.” The concubines were afraid and falsely identified this and that person among the servants. When the old man returned with her husbands, Zhao went straight up and reported this. The old man was unable to investigate, so took them at their word and dismissed them. The four servants were all reprimanded, and he urged the concubines to marry and give birth after, and then not to rear those children. The concubines followed these words, and drowned them. Not many years later, Li died early, and his grandsons also died young. When the lady Zhao died she went without inner and outer coffins, and was almost exposed in the grave. The Li household was affected by the lady Zhao’s jealousy to the point of childlessness, alas! An intelligent woman would never act in such a manner.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.101 (Tale 173):

妒溺子孫

李正奏子婦趙氏,極悍。得一子,至七歲不慧,李甚不滿。子有四妾皆孕,翁曰:「若有十孫,育之不溺。(「溺」原作「潛」據元刻本改。)」趙聞之憤甚。伺翁與夫俱出,趙呼妾責之,問其所孕。妾曰:「主人翁也。」趙曰:「爾謂主孕,必痛撻汝,遠嫁荒惡,行無資裝。若指為僕所有,仍免痛撻,汝(「汝」,元刻本作「且」。)適好處,厚有所贈。」妾懼而妄指為僕某人、某人所有。及翁與夫歸,趙直以告。翁不能察,遂信其說,屏之。四僕俱斥,且囑其妾,嫁後有子,毋育此子。妾從其言,溺之。不數年,李先亡,孫亦早喪,趙氏死無棺槨,幾至暴露。李氏一門,為趙氏妒孕而致絕嗣,哀哉!有識之婦,幸毋倣此可也。

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).