Painting Connecting To Spirits 繪畫通神

Zhang Sengyou of the Liang was skilled at drawing, and served as prefectural chief of Wuxing. Whenever Emperor Wu (464-549 CE) thought of one of his vassal princes, he would order Sengyou to go and draw their portrait, which was like a double of the subject’s face. Once, while in the Tianhuang Monastery in Jiangling, he painted the Buddha, Confucius and the Ten Sages, and the emperor asked: “Why draw these in a Buddhist temple?” He replied: “Some day this will benefit them.” Later, when Zhou burned out the Buddhists, in order to construct a Confucian hall, this alone was saved from the flames. Moreover, when he painted four dragons at the Jiangling Anle Monastery, he did not dot their eyes. People questioned this, and he replied: “If dotted they will fly off.” The crowd thought he was joking, and insisted he dot them. In an instant they heard a thunderclap, and two dragons climbed the clouds and soared upwards; only the two without the eye-dots remained behind. This is painting that connects to spirits.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.14 (Tale 76):

繪畫通神

梁張僧繇善畫,為吴興太守。武帝每思諸王在外藩者,即令僧繇乘傳往寫其貌,如對其面。嘗於江陵天皇寺畫佛并仲尼及十哲,帝曰:「釋門之內畫此,何也?」對曰:「異日賴之。」至後周焚滅佛教,以此殿有儒聖,獨不焚之。又於金陵安樂寺畫四龍,不點睛。人問之,答曰:「點則飛去。」衆人以為虛誕,固請點之。頃刻雷霆,二龍乘雲騰上;其二不點者猶在。畫之通神若此。

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)

 

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Xingwen Beats A Scholar 興文杖士

When Li, a county governor of Nanchang, moved the Confucius hall to the south of the county, he lifted the statue of the master but was quite unable to move it, and many of his subordinates also tried but had the same problem. There was a scholar who spoke from beside him, saying: “The gentleman should be called Zhongni” (This is another name for Confucius, but seems to be a pun, as a different zhong 重 can mean ‘heavy’, and this ni can mean ‘stop’ or ‘prevent’). Warden Li grew angry, and rebuked him with a stern countenance. When night came, in a dream the scholar was suddenly taken by two yellow-robed people to a place where in a side-room a horizontal board read ‘Xingwen’. After a little while a person sat down there and said: “You claim to be a scholar, reading the books of past sages; how can you make jokes and slight the ancient master?” He ordered the attendants to punish him with twenty strokes of the stave, and ordered that he be removed from the Confucian classicists. When he awoke he was feeble-minded, and could not recognise a single character.

Those among the present generation who treat the sagely words as jokes should indeed treat this as a warning.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.221 (Tale 392):

興文杖士

南昌李知縣遷先聖殿於縣南,舁夫子像而不能動,縱(「縱」原作「從」,據明刻本改。)人多亦如之。有一士在側曰:「夫是謂仲尼。」李宰怒,正色責之。至夜,士人忽夢被二黃衣使攝至一所,有小殿廡,扁額曰「興文」。少頃一人坐中,曰:「汝為士人,讀先聖之書,豈當戲言侮慢先聖!」命左右決杖二十,勒罷為儒。及覺如癡,自後不識一字。今世之人好引聖語之言為戲,亦當以為戒。

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).

Reincarnating to Avenge Injustice 託生報冤

In Chuzhou there were three brothers surnamed You, the eldest called Zhidao, the second Shidao and the youngest Wendao. Zhidao and his brothers were classicists by profession, but Wendao suffered from a manic illness, and at bad times became crazed and violent, impossible to restrain. Their mother, née Weng, adored her youngest son, and so locked him in a hidden room, opening the window a small chink to pass him food; this continued up to the gengwu year of the Xianchun era (1270), when he was 22 sui in age. On the eighteenth day of the sixth month (7 July 1270), Wendao’s birthday, his two elder brothers left the county. His mother, pitying him, said that although he was usually locked away, that day being his birthday, she would therefore release him. Wendao, having achieved his release, went straight to the chamber of his elder brother Zhidao and forced himself on his brother’s favoured maidservant, wielding a knife. His mother hurried to save [125] her, but was then killed by Wendao, who tore her remains into three parts and then went out before the gate, shouting: “I have slaughtered a sow today.” He was lured out by their neighbours, tied up and delivered to the authorities. The officials, horrified by this offence against custom and morality, sent him to a dungeon and imposed the death penalty. Among the neighbours was one Hua Jian, who by plotting to deceive Zhidao and his brother, gained their silverware and 20,000 strings of guanhui notes. Afterwards, this Hua Jian fell ill for over a month and, spending the days confined to his bed and suffering increasingly serious debilitation, ordered the officials to send him a chaste virgin for his treatment. The lady Weng entered her body to take her revenge, and said: “Three lives ago I was a general in the Wuwei army and Wendao was my subordinate. Killed unjustly he therefore reincarnated in my family, to repay a debt of injustice from three lives before. How could you take my family silver through deceit? I have seen it hidden in the tree; you should return it all to my sons, and then you will be forgiven and spared death.” Hua Jian was completely convinced and, calling out for Zhidao and his brother, returned their property. He then made a complete recovery.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.125-25 (Tale 218):

託生報冤

處州有游其姓者,兄弟三人,長曰志道,次曰適道,季曰聞道。志道兄弟業儒,惟聞道自生來有心瘋疾,非時顛狂,不能制。其母翁氏酷愛季子,乃扃鑰於密室,開窗隙以給食,至咸淳庚午,年已二十有二歲矣。六月十八日乃聞道生日,二兄出縣,其母憐之,謂尋常拘繫,今日乃其生辰,姑縱之出外。聞道既得出,直造乃兄志道寢室,驅迫兄之寵婢,取刃在手。其母急往救 [125] 之,遂為聞道所殺,折其屍為三,往門前疾呼:「我今日屠一母豬矣。」遂為居鄰以計誘之,縛送於官。官以大傷風教為恐,押赴土牢,處以極刑。鄰有譁健,因謀騙志道兄弟,得其銀器及官會二萬緡。後譁健者被病月餘,日伏枕沉重,因命法官附童體救治。翁氏入體報應,且言:「我三生前在無為軍為將,聞道為我部下卒,不合誤殺,故託生我家,以報復三生冤債。你何得騙去我家銀?見藏在樹內,可悉以還吾兒,免汝殘喘也。」譁健者大服,呼志道兄弟還之,其病即愈。

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).