Qin Shu 秦樹

The house of Qin Shu, of Pei Prefecture, was in Xiaoxin Village, within Qu’e. He was once returning from the capital, and was still more than twenty li distant when the sky darkened and he lost his way. In the distance he saw the light of a fire, so headed towards it. Eventually he saw a woman emerge holding a candle, but she told him: “I am a woman living alone, and may not invite guests to stay.” Shu said: “I need to get back to the road, but lost my way in the depths of night and was unable to go on. Please let me stay out here.” The woman assented to this. Shu then advanced and sat down, and it became clear that his host was indeed alone in a single room. Shu worried that her husband might come, and did not dare to sleep. The woman said: “Why be so suspicious? Keep calm. We should not suspect one another unjustly.” She laid out food for Shu, all of which was extremely old-fashioned in style. Shu said: “The lady has not yet married. I too have not yet married, and wish to marry. Could we be united?” The woman laughed: “Look at your servant’s lowly status; how could we possibly be man and wife?” She then withdrew within for the night. Around dawn Shu departed, and they clasped hands in parting. The woman said: “I have seen the gentleman once, but will never show my face again.” She then gave him a ring, which he tied to his belt, and saw him out through the gate. Shu walked hurriedly away for several paces with his head down. When he turned to see the place where he had stayed, it was just a tomb. For several days he forgot about the ring, but there it was tied up in his belt as before.

From Zhenyilu.

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, 324.2568:

秦樹

沛郡人秦樹者。家在曲阿小辛村。嘗自京歸。未至二十里許。天暗失道。遙望火光。往投之。見一女子。秉燭出云。女弱獨居。不得宿客。樹曰。欲進路。礙夜不可前去。乞寄外住。女然之。樹既進坐。竟以此女獨處一室。慮其夫至。不敢安眠。女曰。何以過嫌。保無慮。不相誤也。為樹設食。食物悉是陳久。樹曰。承未出適。我亦未婚。欲結大義。能相顧否。女笑曰。自顧鄙薄。豈足伉儷。遂與寢止。向晨樹去。乃俱起執別。女泣曰。與君一覩。後面莫期。以指環一雙贈之。結置衣帶。相送出門。樹低頭急去數十步。顧其宿處。乃是冢墓。居數日。亡其指環。結帶如故。出甄異錄

A Fuyang Native 富陽人

At the beginning of the Song Yuanjia era (424-53 CE), a native of Fuyang surnamed Wang set up a crab-catching weir in an empty ditch. At dawn he went to look at it, and saw the end of a wooden casket, more than two chi (60cm) long, which had split the trap. The crabs had all escaped. He mended the weir, removing the casket and placing it on the bank. When he went to check on it the next day, he found the casket back in the weir, which was ruined in the same way. Wang mended the weir once more. When he went to look again, what he saw was the same as when he had started. Wang suspected that this piece of wood was a supernatural entity. He therefore put it in his crabbing basket, tied this to his carrying pole and returned. He said to himself: “When I get back I should chop this up and burn it.” Three li short of the house he heard a sudden movement, and turned his head to find that the wood had transformed into a thing with a human face, monkey body, one hand and one single foot. Addressing Wang, it said: “By nature I am very fond of crabs, so I entered the water and destroyed your crabbing weir. We have both already suffered greatly, and I hope the gentleman can forgive me, opening the basket and letting me out. I am a mountain spirit, and we should help one another; I could spread your weir wide and wait for your crabs.” Wang replied: “You bully and abuse people, but that changes now. Your crimes require a death sentence.” The thing turned and stamped, begging to be released, and asked over and over what Wang’s given and family names might be. Wang turned his head but refused to answer. As they came closer to the house, the thing said: “So you won’t release me, and you won’t tell me your name. There’s nothing for it but to await execution.” When Wang arrived at home, he kindled a fire and burned the thing. Afterwards all was still and there was no more strangeness.

Local customs call such things ‘mountain elves’,[1] and report that, if they know a person’s family and given names, they can cause harm to that person. They thus ask with great persistence, in order to cause injury and to free themselves.

From Shuyiji.

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, 323.2560:

富陽人

宋元嘉初。富陽人姓王。于窮瀆中作蟹籪。旦往視。見一材頭。長二尺許。在籪裂開。蟹出都盡。乃修治籪。出材岸上。明往看之。見材復在籪中。敗如前。王又治籪。再往視。所見如初。王疑此材妖異。乃取納蟹籠中。繫擔頭歸。云。至家當破燃之。未之家三里。聞中倅動。轉顧。見向材頭變成一物。人面猴身。一手一足。語王曰。我性嗜蟹。此寔入水破若蟹籪。相負已多。望君見恕。開籠出我。我是山神。當相佑助。使全籪大待蟹。王曰。汝犯暴人。前後非一。罪自應死。此物轉頓。請乞放。又頻問君姓名為何。王回顧不應答。去家轉近。物曰。既不放我。又不告我姓名。當復何計。但應就死耳。王至家。熾火焚之。後寂無復異。土俗謂之山魈。云。知人姓名。則能中傷人。所以勤問。正欲害人自免。出述異記


[1] This term is shanxiao 山魈.

Master Gu 顧氏

There was a person from Wuzhong surnamed Gu, who set off to a farmhouse, travelling through the day. He was still more than ten li from the house when he began to hear a very faint sound coming from the northwest. He lifted his head to see four or five hundred people, all wearing red robes and all two zhang in height (i.e., 6.6m). [2527] They advanced quickly to meet him and surrounded him in a triple ring. Gu’s breath came in blocked gasps, he turned and turned but was unable to escape. From dawn to the bu period (3-5pm), he was surrounded without release. His mouth could not find words, but his heart called out to Ursa Major. Another short while passed, then the spirits told one another: “This one has a true heart devoted to a deity. We should send him away.” They drifted away like evaporating fog. When Gu reached the house he lay down in extreme exhaustion. That night, in a place before the house a fire arose into great flames but did not burn anything. Numerous spirits gathered in confusion, some coming, some going, approaching Gu as if to talk, some passing through his clothing, some stopping on top of his head, where they were as light as a goose feather. At the first light of dawn, they 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, 319.2526-27:

顧氏

吳中人姓顧。往田舍。晝行。去舍十餘里。但聞西北隱隱。因舉首。見四五百人。皆赤衣。長二丈。 [2527] 倏忽而至。三重圍之。顧氣奄奄不通。輾轉不得。旦至晡。圍不解。口不得語。心呼北斗。又食頃。鬼相謂曰。彼正心在神。可捨去。豁如霧除。顧歸舍。疲極臥。其夕。戶前一處。火甚盛而不燃。鬼紛紜相就。或往或來。呼顧談。或入去其被。或上頭而輕於鴻毛。開晨失。出幽明錄

Zhou Of Linhe 周臨賀

During the Jin era there was a man from Yixing with the surname Zhou. During the Yonghe era (345-57 CE), he set off from Guo on horseback, travelling with two followers. Dusk fell before they had reached the next settlement, but beside the road there stood a small, newly built thatched hut. They saw a woman emerge from the doorway to watch them, aged perhaps sixteen or seventeen, handsome in appearance and wearing fresh and clean clothes. Seeing Zhou pass, she said: “It is already dusk, and the next village is still distant; how could you have reached Linhe?” Zhou then asked if he could lodge there. The woman kindled a fire and cooked him a meal. Around the first watch (7-9pm), the voice of a small child was heard from outside, calling out to Axiang.[1] The woman replied: “Yes?” Soon after, the child said: “The officials call on you to push the thunder chariot!” The woman then departed, saying: “I have some business to attend to, and must go.” The night then filled with thunder and rain, and the woman returned around daybreak. When Zhou had mounted his horse, he looked back at the place where he had spent the night. He saw only a new tomb, with horse urine and straw scattered around the tomb entrance. Zhou sighed to himself in shock and amazement. Five years later, he was indeed serving as Prefectural Chief of Linhe.

From Fayuan Zhulin.

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, 319.2525:

周臨賀

晉義興人姓周。永和年中。出郭乘馬。從兩人行。未至村。日暮。道邊有一新小草屋。見一女子出門望。年可十六七。姿容端正。衣服鮮潔。見周過。謂曰。日已暮。前村尚遠。臨賀詎得至。周便求寄宿。此女為燃火作食。向一更。聞外有小兒喚阿香聲。女應曰。諾。尋云。官喚汝推雷車。女乃辭行。云。今有事當去。夜遂大雷雨。向曉女還。周既上馬。看昨所宿處。止見一新冢。冢口有馬尿及餘草。周甚驚惋。至後五年。果作臨賀太守。出法苑珠林


[1] Axiang 阿香 is the name of the deity who drove the thunder chariot 雷車 across the skies.

Wang Gongbo 王恭伯

Wang Gongbo, courtesy name Zisheng, who lived under the Jin (265-420 CE) and came from Guiji, was elegant in appearance and skilled at playing the zither. While serving the Crown Prince as Palace Secretary, he requested leave to rest in Wu. On reaching the courier’s lodge at the Changmen Gate,[1] he gazed at the moon and played his zither. Presently a woman appeared, with a girl following her, who addressed Gongbo: “Your servant has always loved the zither, and would like to play it with you.” In appearance she was extremely beautiful. Gongbo stayed the night with her, and took his leave a little before daybreak, receiving presents of a padded brocade sachet of fragrance and a jade hairpin. Gongbo then gave her another jade hairpin as a parting gift.

Soon after, when the sun rose, he heard that the daughter of Liu Huiji, Magistrate of Wu County, had died on a nearby boat, and that a jade hairpin and spice sachet had gone missing from before her funeral tablet. Soon [2520] after, government clerks searched through the neighbouring boats. When they arrived at Gongbo’s vessel they seized him. Gongbo was scared, and related the whole story, telling them: “I gave her a jade hairpin, too.” Huiji ordered that this be investigated, and they did indeed find this in the dead girl’s hair. Huiji broke down and wept, calling out to Gongbo with the courtesy due a son-in-law. His daughter had been called Zhihua, and she had died at age sixteen.

From Xingzicaishanhebieji.

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, 318.2519-20:

王恭伯

晉世王恭伯。字子升。會稽人。美姿容。善鼓琴。為東宮舍人。求假休吳。到閶門郵亭。望月鼓琴。俄有一女子。從一女。謂恭伯曰。妾平生愛琴。願共撫之。其姿質甚麗。恭伯留之宿。向曉而別。以錦褥香囊為訣。恭伯以玉簪贈行。俄而天曉。聞鄰船有吳縣令劉惠基亡女。靈前失錦褥及香囊。斯 [2520] 須。有官吏遍搜鄰船。至恭伯船。獲之。恭伯懼。因述其〈明鈔本述其作還之。〉言。我亦贈其玉簪。惠基令檢。果於亡女頭上獲之。惠基乃慟哭。因呼恭伯以子壻之禮。其女名稚華。年十六而卒。出刑子才山河別記


[1] This may refer to the famous west gate of Suzhou 蘇州 or the western gate in Yangzhou 揚州.

Shao Gong 邵公

Shao Gong suffered from a feverish ague for over a year without change, and later went to live alone in a hut. During his fever he saw many small boys, who picked Gong up by his feet and hands. Gong then closed his eyes against the bright sun, but suddenly got up, grabbing and catching one boy. It turned into a yellow yi heron, and its fellows all fled. Tying it tightly to return home, he suspended it in his window, intending to kill and eat it. When dawn broke, he couldn’t find the yi anywhere, but his ague was then cured. Nowadays some sufferers of this ague merely call out to Shao Gong at dawn to find relief.

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, 318.2518:

邵公

邵公者。患瘧。經年不差。後獨在墅居。痁作之際。見有數小兒。持公手足。公因陽瞑。忽起。捉得一小兒。化成黃鷁。其餘皆走。仍縛以還家。懸於窗。將殺食之。及曙。失鷁所在。而瘧遂愈。于時有患瘧者。但呼邵公即差。出錄異傳

Zhao Bolun 趙伯倫

Zhao Bolun, from Moling, once went to Xiangyang. The boatman made pigs and hogs the subject of his prayers, but when it came to making offerings, he gave only the shoulder of a single suckling pig. In a dream that night, Lun and others saw an old man and elderly woman, with white and grey hair, dressed in common clothes and bearing oars, who were very angry about this. When they set out at dawn, they were repeatedly pushed onto the sand and dashed against rocks; no human strength could stop this. They therefore prepared a generous selection of food offerings, after which they immediately caught the flowing current.

From You [2515] minglu.

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, 318.2514-15:

趙伯倫

秣陵人趙伯倫。曾往襄陽。船人以猪豕為禱。及祭。但㹠肩而已。爾夕。倫等夢見一翁一姥。鬢首蒼素。皆著布衣。手持橈檝。怒之。明發。輒觸沙衝石。皆非人力所禁。更施厚饌。即獲流通。出幽 [2515] 明錄

Lu Ji 陸機

When Lu Ji[1] first entered Luo, he passed through Henan, and when he entered Yanshi it was dark and gloomy. Looking to the left of the road, at seemed there were people living there, so he went to seek lodging. He saw a young person of impressive and dignified bearing, who set up a pitch-pot[2] and discussed ethics with Ji. His ingenuity was profound and delicate, impressing Ji greatly, and he found himself unable to contradict the youth. He departed at daybreak, but when he unhitched his horses at an inn, the lady innkeeper told him: “There is no such village several li east of here, only the tomb of the Shanyang Prince.” Ji went back to look at this, to find a hazy stretch of open country, with a tomb-side tree blocking the sunlight. He then understood that the person he’d encountered that evening was indeed Wang Bi.[3]

From Yiyuan.

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, 318.2514:

陸機

陸機初入洛。次河南。入偃師。時陰晦。望道左。若有民居。因投宿。見一少年。神姿端遠。置易投壺。與機言倫。妙得玄微。機心伏其能。無以酬抗。既曉便去。稅驂逆旅。逆旅嫗曰。此東十數里無村落。有山陽王家冢耳。機往視之。空野霾雲。拱木蔽日。方知昨所遇者。信王弼也。出異苑

[1] Lu Ji 陸機 (courtesy name Shiheng 士衡, 261-303 CE), a writer, calligrapher and official.

[2] This was a drinking game which involves standing up a broad-mouthed wine pot and attempting to throw arrows into it from distance.

[3] Wang Bi 王弼 (226-49 CE, courtesy name Fusi 輔嗣), a philosopher counted among the founders of the Xuanxue 玄學 School of Neo-Daoist thought. On Bi see also this tale.

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

Wang Fan 王樊

The Dunhuang shilu reports: When Wang Fan died, a thief opened his tomb and saw Wang Fan playing chupu (a form of boardgame) with someone; he rewarded the robber with wine, and the thief drank it in terror, watching someone lead a bronze horse out of the tomb. That night a divinity arrived at the city gate, announcing that it was the envoy of Wang Fan, that someone had opened his tomb, marking his lips by swallowing dark wine, and that, at dawn, when that person returned, they could verify this and capture him. When the thief entered the city, those on the gate therefore bound and questioned him, and it was just as the divinity had said. From Duyizhi.

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, 317.2507:

王樊

敦煌實錄云。王樊卒。有盜開其冢。見樊與人樗蒲。以酒賜盜者。盜者惶怖。飲之。見有人牽銅馬出冢者。夜有神人至城門。自云。我王樊之使。今有發冢者。以酒墨其脣訖。旦至。可以驗而擒之。盜即入城。城門者乃縛詰之。如神所言。出獨異志

The Zhonghua shuju edition of Du yi zhi presents a very slightly different version of the story:

Wang Fan’s Tomb 王樊冢

The Dunhuang shilu reports: When Wang Fan died, a thief opened his tomb and saw Wang Fan playing chupu (a form of boardgame) with someone; he rewarded the robber with wine, and the thief drank it in terror, watching someone lead a bronze horse out of the tomb. That night a divinity arrived at the city gate, announcing that it was the envoy of Wang Fan, that someone had opened his tomb, marking his lips by swallowing dark wine, and that, at dawn, when that person returned, they could verify this and capture him. When the thief entered the city, those on the gate therefore bound and questioned him, and it was just as the divinity had said.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.8 (Tale 61):

王樊冢

《燉煌實錄》云:王樊卒,有盗開其冢,見王樊與人樗蒲,以酒賜盗者,盗者惶怖飲之,見有人牽銅馬出冢者。夜有神至城門,自言是王樊使,今有人發冢,以酒墨其唇,但至,可以驗而擒之。盗既入城,城門者乃縛詰之,如神言。

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)