Zhang Jian 張簡

Teaching Assistant to the Tang Imperial Academy Zhang Jian was from Koushi in Henan. He once gave a lecture at a provincial school on ‘Selected Literature’. A fox sprite took on Jian’s form, delivered a lecture on a book, and then departed. When Jian arrived soon after, his pupils were bewildered and asked him about it. Jian was surprised and said: “The former must have been a fox sprite.” He cancelled the lecture and returned to his rooms. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The food I have just cooked is cold; why has elder brother come so late?” Jian seated himself but after waiting for a long time his food still didn’t arrive. He reproached his sister, but she said: “I didn’t see you arrive in the first place; it must have been that fox sprite. If we see it again, kill it!” He came back the next day. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The demon has just gone behind the rooms.” Jian took up a cudgel. He saw his real younger sister emerging from the toilet, and attacked her. His sister screamed “It’s me!” Jian did not believe her, and he beat her to death. When he went to ask the silk-winder, she immediately turned into a fox and departed.

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658:

張簡

唐國子監助教張簡,河南緱氏人也。曾為鄉學講《文選》。有野狐假簡形,講一紙書而去。須臾簡至,弟子怪問之。簡異曰:「前來者必野狐也。」講罷歸舍,見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「適煮菜冷,兄來何遲?」簡坐,久待不至,乃責其妹。妹曰:「元不見兄來,此必是野狐也。更見即殺之!」明日又來。見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「鬼魅適向舍後。」簡遂持棒。見真妹從廁上出來,遂擊之。妹號叫曰:「是兒。」簡不信,因擊殺之。問絡絲者,化為野狐而走。出朝野僉載

King Qian Manifests In A Dream 錢王現夢

Song Gaozong (r. 1127-62) was the ninth son of Huizong (r. 1100-26). While his mother, the Empress Wei, was pregnant, Huizong dreamed that the King of Wuyue Qian Chu came to call on him.[1] On waking, he marvelled at this. It was the second year Daguan (1108 CE). At Gaozong’s birth, a red light filled the palace chamber. In the second year Xuanhe (1120), he was given the title Prince of Kang. At the turn of the Jingkang era (1126-27), the prince was often sent to the Jin as a hostage and spent time among their troops. When the Jin Crown Prince and the Prince of Kang traded bowshots, the latter hit all three volleys, smashing their arrowheads and leaving them hanging together in bundles. The Jin prince was terrified, believing that he was a deity, and thinking silently to himself: “The Song crown prince has grown up [7] deep within the palace, accustomed to wealth and station, so horse riding cannot be his strong point. Now, such expert archery must mean that the southern court have selected a skilled warrior from amongst their clan to take the prince’s place as a hostage; he must be an impostor. Keeping him is of no benefit; he should be returned. Exchanging him and having the true crown prince come as a hostage would be better.” In this way Gaozong won his release.

Changing his clothes he ran helter-skelter down a side road, and when the strength in his legs eventually gave way to exhaustion, he took a nap between the steps of the Cuifujun Temple. In his dream he heard a spirit telling him “The Jin have sent soldiers here; you must leave quickly.” The Prince of Kang looked all around, unsure what to do, and the spirit spoke again: “There is a horse prepared and waiting at the gate; leave quickly, great prince; you must not be caught.” The Prince of Kang awoke from his dream to find a horse already by his side. Leaping atop his mount, the prince galloped away to the south, covering seven hundred li in a single day. When he came to cross the (Yellow) River, his horse would not advance, and when he looked down he realised that it was made of mud. He then understood how the spirits had helped him. Seeking a crossing, he arrived, extremely hungry and thirsty, at a small village, and received food from a very old woman. She invited him inside, and then went back out in front of the house. Just then a number of mounted soldiers arrived in pursuit, and asked her: “There is an official, dressed like us; has he passed this way or not?” The elderly woman considered these words awhile, thinking about the manner of the man she’d just fed, and replied: “It has been several days since he passed through.” His pursuers beat their riding crops against their saddles, exclaiming: “Alas! Alas!” They then turned back, giving up the chase.

When the old woman went back to him, she said: “I see that the official is no vagabond; could it be that you are a person of the imperial palace? Just now some pursuit riders came asking questions, but I have hoodwinked them and they turned back.” The Prince of Kang replied: “I am fleeing to the south, and have arrived here famished and thirsty. I am indebted to you, but faced with these questions in truth I dare not answer, but wish to keep my secret.” The old woman said: “May the Great Prince please be at ease.” After a little while, she prepared a meal and brought it, also taking out several hundred liang of silver and presenting it to him, explaining: “My son was Li Rushui, and he died as their captive. I wish the great prince to devote this to the service of the realm.” The Prince of Kang was therefore able to flee to Xiangzhou and issue a proclamation recruiting troops to rescue the princes.

He then ascended the Flying Immortal Pavilion within the prefectural garden, took up bow and arrow and, looking at its inscribed board, prayed: “If I hit that tablet, I will ‘pay heed to news from the capital’” (i.e., play a role in governing the realm). He fired three times and did indeed hit three times, and those around him were deeply moved and congratulated one another. He also spoke to the commanding officer: “In the night I dreamed that an emperor removed his imperial robes and gave them to me. I removed my former robes and dressed myself in his gifts; what omen does this carry?” After a little while, the city gates were sealed as the official attendant Qin Zaiji had arrived with an imperial decree hidden within a wax medicine ball. This ordered him to serve as commander-in-chief, and to issue forth with an army. Just as the prince set out from Xiangzhou, an envoy galloped up to report that the Yellow River had not fully frozen over. The multitude all turned pale. The prince prayed to the spirits of heaven and earth and to the rivers. When they arrived at the Zihedu crossing, the river had become solid ice, so they went straight over. At that time, Huizong and Qinzong (r. 1125-27) had already departed on their ‘northern hunt’, and an imperial rescript from Huizong was presented, which read: “It would be better to ascend the throne than come to rescue your [8] father and mother.” Moreover, there was a decree from the Yuanyou Empress addressed to the Prince of Kang, which said, in outline: “Only when the House of Han had suffered ten generations of hardship did the prosperity of Guangwu arise; the lord having been presented with nine sons, only Chong’er (Duke Wen of Jin, 697–628 BCE) remained.[2] This can only be heaven’s will; how could it possibly be by human design?” The Prince of Kang bowed and accepted this, ascending the throne in Nanjing.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.6-8 (Tale 8)

錢王現夢

宋高宗,徽宗第九子也。母韋后在娠時,徽宗夜夢吳越王錢俶來謁,覺而異之,時大觀二年也。高宗生於宮中,紅光滿室。宣和二年,封康王。靖康之變,康王常質金人軍中,金國太子與康王同出射,連發三矢皆中,破其筈,纍纍懸於其上。金太子驚以為神,默計之曰:「宋太子生長 [7] 深宮,狃於富貴,鞍馬非其所長。今善射如此,意南朝揀選宗室中之長於武藝者冒名為質,必非真也。留之無益,不如遣還,換真太子來質乃善。」高宗由是得逸。遂易服間道奔竄,足力疲睏,乃假寐於崔府君廟階砌間,夢神人報曰:「金人追兵至,必速去之。」康王徬徨四顧,神曰:「已備馬門首伺侯矣,大王急行,毋為所及也。」康王驚夢,則馬已在其側矣。王踴躍上馬,疾馳而南,一日行七百里,渡河而馬不前,下視之,則泥馬也,始悟為神物之助。暨河渡,至一村莊,飢渴甚,謁飯於一老嫗。嫗延入莊內坐,復出莊前,則有數騎追至,問:「有一官人,狀貌若是,曾從此過否?」嫗思其言狀貌類謁飯者,乃答之:「已過數日矣。」追騎以鞭敲鞍曰:「可惜!可惜!」遂返而不追。嫗歸,語曰:「吾觀官人非客旅也,得非宮中人乎?適有追騎來問,吾已紿之而還矣。」康王曰:「吾奔逃至南,飢渴至此,既承見問,敢不實對,願密之。」嫗曰:「請大王安心。」少頃,辦飯進,因出銀數百兩以獻曰:「吾兒李若水也,已死於虜矣。國家大事,願大王勉之。」康王由此奔相州,揭榜召兵勤王。因登郡圃飛仙亭,視其牌額,持弓矢而祝曰:「若中此牌,則必聞京師音耗。」果三發三中,左右動色相賀。又語幕府曰: 「夜來夢皇帝脫所御袍賜吾,吾解舊衣而服(「服」原作「復」,據元刻本改。)所賜,此何祥也?」頃時京師闔門祗候秦仔齎蠟詔來,命為大元帥,速頒兵入衛。時王發兵相州,使臣馳報黃河未凍,衆失色,王禱天地河神。行至子河渡,而河冰凍已合,遂渡河。時徽宗、欽宗已北狩矣,有使臣曹勛自河北竄歸,進徽宗御札曰:「便可即真,來救 [8] 父母。」又奉元祐皇后手詔迎康王,其略曰:「漢家之厄十世,宜光武之中興;獻公之子九人,惟重耳之尚在。茲乃天意,夫豈人謀!」康王拜受,遂即位於南京。

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)

[1] This is Qian Chu 錢俶 (929-88, r. 947-78, courtesy name Wende 文德, known as Qian Hongchu 錢弘俶 until 960), the last king of Wuyue, who surrendered his kingdom to the Song. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Chu.

[2] This seems to refer to the famous and unexpected ascendance of Duke Wen in 636 BCE after a period of turbulence. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Wen_of_Jin.

Good Omens 瑞應

The nine-tailed fox is a mystical animal. In terms of appearance, it is red in colour and has four feet and nine tails. It emerged from the Realm of the Green Mound.[1] Its cry is like that of a baby. Eating it will prevent a person from encountering noxious or demonic energies; it also serves a kind of poison.[2]

From Ruiyingbian.

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), ix, 447.3652:

瑞應

九尾狐者。神獸也。其狀赤色。四足九尾。出青丘之國。音如嬰兒。食者令人不逢妖邪之氣。及蠱毒之類。出瑞應編

[1] Qingqiu 青丘 was regarded as a place in the far east, beyond the seas.

[2] In this context the choice of the title ruiying 瑞應, which usually refers to auspicious portents resulting from virtuous rule, is a little confusing.

On Foxes 說狐

When foxes reach fifty years of age, they can transform into adult women. At a hundred years they can be beautiful girls, and perform sorcery. Some become husbands and enjoy carnal relations with women. They have awareness of matters extending up to a thousand li away. They are skilled at wielding noxious influence and charms, and can perplex and mislead people, stealing away their wisdom. At a thousand years they can receive the direct blessings of heaven, as a divine fox.

From Xuanzhongji.

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), ix, 447.3652:

說狐

狐五十歲。能變化為婦人。百歲為美女。為神巫。或為丈夫與女人交接。能知千里外事。善蠱魅。使人迷惑失智。千歲即與天通。為天狐。

出玄中記

Release A Dragon, Receive A Reward 放龍獲報

On the bank of the Lu River Li Yuan saw a small scarlet snake. Less than a chi in length, it was being harassed by a shepherd boy. Yuan bought it with a hundred cash, and released it among the thick vegetation. The following year, he was crossing the Long Bridge[1] again, and saw the Jinshi scholar Zhu Jun coming to call on him, saying: “Jun lives just a few hundred paces from the end of the bridge; their Excellency sends an invitation, if you will pardon me and sit.” Leading him to sit together in a boat, they travelled to a mountain, with richly decorated buildings and halls, all very tightly guarded. Presently, a person wearing a tall hat and ceremonial robes summoned Yuan, saying: “Our young son suffered misfortune and almost died at the hands of a mischievous boy; his humble life depended on the gentleman’s help.” Turning to Jun he ordered that he bow again, and then ordered a banquet be laid out, mixing products of land and sea, saying: “I am a fish of the southern seas; having achieved merit in life, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that I reside here, styling me Anliu Wang. I have a young servant, with the childhood name Yunjie, and I now present her to you; if you accept her, she will be of help.” Yuan therefore did not depart. He subsequently went to sit the civil examinations; when the test was due on the following day, Yunjie stealthily obtained the exam questions; Yuan then prepared his composition in advance, and, on entering the examination hall, felt great satisfaction, achieved great success and a recommendation as an imperial scholar. Yunjie said goodbye to him, saying: “I have obeyed the prince’s order and dare not stay long.” A poem of parting read:

Six years here to repay deep benevolence,

Saying farewell to the aquatic realm and the region of fish.

None say that newly-weds should be parted again,

All wish to share ancient love with new people.

Li Yuan was thus newly married at that time.

**uncertain translation**

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118 (Tale 205):

放龍獲報

李元於吳江岸見小朱蛇,長不滿尺,為牧童所困。元以百錢買之,放於茂草中。明年,再經長橋,有進士朱浚來謁見,曰:「浚居橋尾數百步耳,大人遣奉召,幸恕坐。」邀同舟,至一山,樓殿寶飾,侍衛甚嚴。俄一人高冠道服,引元坐:曰:「小兒不幸,幾死頑童之手,賴君子活此微命。」顧浚令再拜,乃命置酒,水陸交錯,曰:「吾乃南海之鱗,有功於世,天帝詔居此,封安流王。吾有小奴,小字雲姐,今於贈子,子納之,當得其助。」元乃別去。後赴禮闈,明日當試,雲姐私入竊所試題目出,元乃檢閱宿構,入試,大得意,高捷薦名登科。雲姐告辭曰:「奉王命不敢久留。」作詩別曰:「六年於此報深恩,水國魚鄉是去程。莫謂初婚又相別,都將舊愛與新人。」時李元新娶故也。

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)

[1] An ancient structure in Jiangsu Province.

Zhang Baocang Achieves Eminence Through Medicine 張寶藏因醫致貴

During the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), Zhang Baocang was returning to Yueyang after ending his duty as Chief Secretary to the Imperial Guard, when he encountered a youth hunting and eating fresh meat in the wilds. Leaning against a tree he let out a long sigh and said: “Zhang Baocang is aged seventy and has never once had meat and wine like this; what a shame!” By his side there was a monk, who pointed and said: “Within sixty days, you will ascend to the third official grade; how is this something to sigh over?” When he finished speaking, he vanished. Baocang marvelled at this, and immediately returned to the capital. At that time Taizong (r. 626-49 CE) was suffering terribly with dysentery, and a crowd of physicians had no effect, so a decree was promulgated asking whether anyone in the court or retinue had the ability to treat the illness, promising them a rich reward. Baocang had once suffered from the same disease, so prepared a memorial to the throne in answer to the decree, prescribing beans simmered in milk. The emperor took it, and recovered instantly. A decree was passed down to the minister of state appointing him to the fifth official grade. Wei Wei obstructed this, so for more than a month he did not advance any plans. The emperor’s illness recurred, and he asked his retinue: “I previously took beans simmered in milk and this was effective.” He again ordered them to bring him forward, and after a single sip was cured once more. The emperor asked: “I had ordered to award him advancement to grade five, but have not seen him accept the post; why is this?” Wei was afraid, and said: “At the time the decree was issued, it was not clear whether this would be a military or civil branch of the clerks.” The emperor grew angry: “For governing we require a chancellor; we might as well appoint him to the third grade. I am the Son of Heaven; how can this not be up to me?” He therefore said in a loud voice: “Granted civil office in the third grade!” He stood and was appointed Minister for Protocol, and that was exactly sixty days later.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.13 (Tale 74):

張寶藏因醫致貴

唐貞觀中,張寶藏為金吾長史嘗因下直歸櫟陽,路逢少年畋獵,割鮮野食。倚樹長歎曰:「張寶藏身年七十,未嘗得一食酒肉如此者,可悲哉!」傍有一僧,指曰:「六十日內,官登三品,何足歎也。」言訖不見。寶藏異之,即時還京。時太宗苦病痢疾,衆醫不效,即下詔問殿廷左右,有能治此疾者,當重賞之。寶藏曾困此疾,即具疏答詔,以乳煎蓽方進。上服之,立瘥。宣下宰臣:與五品官。魏微難之,逾月不進擬。上疾復作,問左右曰:「吾前服乳煎蓽茇有效。」復令進之,一啜又平復。上問曰:「嘗令與進方人五品官,不見除授,何也?」徵懼曰:「奉詔之際,未知文武二吏。」上怒曰:「治得宰相,不妨授三品;我天子也,豈不及汝邪?」乃厲聲曰:「與三品文官!」立授鴻臚卿,時正六十日矣。

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)

Li Ji’s Daughter 李勣女

In the first year Zhenguan (627 CE), Li Ji’s (594-669 CE)[1] beloved daughter died, and she was buried at Bei Mang, with a servant’s cottage built next to the tomb. One day, the daughter suddenly appeared to the servant and said: “I did not die in the first place, but was rather stolen away by the spirit of a great tree. Now, the spirit having left on a pilgrimage to Xiyue, I have therefore managed to run away. I knew that you were here, so I came. I have already been parted from my parents, and returning from this would be humiliating, so I cannot go back. If you hide me, I can reward you with great wealth.” The servant was flabbergasted, but eventually agreed, and built another room for her. The girl sometimes left at dawn to return at dusk, sometimes left at nightfall to return at dawn, her every step like the wind. A month later, she suddenly brought ten jin of gold (about 5 kg) as a gift, and the servant accepted it. When he went to sell it, however, the family who had lost it seized the servant to report the matter. The governor of Luoyang was determined to get to the bottom of the matter, so the servant told the full story. When they followed him to seize her, the girl had already gone, and the remaining gold had all turned into yellow rock. (Taken from the Sunxianglu).

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, 327.2601:

李勣女

貞觀元年,李勣愛女卒,葬北邙,使家僮廬於墓側。一日,女子忽詣家僮曰:「我本不死,被大樹之神竊我。今值其神出朝西嶽,故得便奔出。知爾在此,是以來。我已離父母,復有此辱恥,不可歸。幸爾匿我,我能以致富報爾。」家僮駭愕,良久乃許,遂別置一室。其女或朝出暮至,或夜出曉來,行步如風。一月後,忽携黃金十斤以賜,家僮受之。出賣數兩,乃民家所失,主者執家僮以告。洛陽令推窮其由,家僮具述此事,及追取,此女已失,其餘金盡化為黃石焉。(出《孫相錄》,陳校本作出《瀟湘錄》)

[1] This seems likely to be Li Shiji 李世勣 (594-669), courtesy name Maogong 懋功, posthumously known as Duke Zhenwu of Ying 英貞武公. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Shiji.