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)

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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.

A Camphor Spirit Bewitches People 樟精惑人

In winter, the jiaxu year of the Xianchun era (1274), two men offered paper money at the third bridge in Hangzhou, inviting travelling entertainers to wait upon them, saying that it was for a Governor Zhang’s wedding, and also stipulating in advance that they must not play melodies in the Golden Goblet Palace mode. The entertainers asked: “In what place?” They said: “On the border of Wuxi County in Jiangyin.” The entertainers asked: “When does the even take place?” They said: “Tonight.” The entertainers said: “That is more than five hundred li away; it is already evening. How can we get there?” The reply came: “You all lie in the boat; we will push it along.” The group all followed this instruction, and the boat sped along as if it were flying. They passed through Chang’an, Chongde, Suxiu and Wujiang, and around the second watch (9-11pm), they went ashore at a large mansion. The entertainers struck up their music as arranged, and saw that the seated guests were all small and short, the lamps burning with green flames, and soon it became dim and dark. On reaching the fourth watch (1-3am), there was no food or drink; people became hungry and annoyed, so they played in the Golden Goblet Palace mode. The seated guests and wine servers became very alarmed, and some tried to stop them, but the musicians would not listen. Suddenly there was a gust of black wind, people and room all vanished, and instead they saw a great tree filling the starry heavens. Following the barking of a dog the musicians took refuge in a nearby house and asked the people about it. They replied: “There is a camphor tree spirit here that can delude people. You have been bewitched!” The next morning there was indeed a huge camphor there. The two men were therefore the two messengers of the temple close to the tree, and the rest were temple spirits.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.262 (Tale 475):

樟精惑人

咸淳甲戌冬,有二男子齎官會於杭州三橋,請路歧人祗應,云是張府姻事,先議定不許用黃鍾宮曲調。路歧人曰:「在何處?」曰:「在江陰無錫縣界。」 路歧人曰:「事在幾時?」曰:「在今夜。」路歧人曰:「此間相去五百餘里,又日暮,如何可到?」應曰:「汝等皆卧舟中,我自撐去。」衆從之,舟行如飛。經長安、崇德、蘇秀、吳江,約二更,上岸至一大府第,路歧人如約奏樂,見坐客行酒人皆短小,燈燭焰青,既而幽暗。至四更無飲饌,人飢且怒,因奏黃鍾宮。坐客與行酒人皆驚,亦有止之者。樂人不顧。須臾黑風一陣,人與屋俱亡,但見一大樹滿天星宿。因犬吠,投人家問之,人曰:「此間有樟樹精,能惑人,汝被惑矣!」 天明,果一大樟樹也。二男子乃樹近廟中二使,其餘皆其廟神也。

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).

A Python Spirit Becomes A Demon 蟒精為妖

In Nanzhong there is the Xuanxian place for offerings, at the foot of a steep and rocky precipice, and at the top of that is a stony grotto cave. Tradition has it that this was the residence of supernatural beings, and at times it is shrouded and hidden by clouds and mist. Students of the Way often built houses beneath it, and would see an immortal manifest before them, saying: “Every year on the Zhongyuan day (the Ghost Festival; the fifteenth day of the seventh month), you should select a person of virtuous conduct at the altar, and they will then ascend as an immortal.” At this all of those who studied the way and admired immortals gathered together there. When the time came, people from near and far congregated beneath the altar, holding incense, gazing at the cave mouth and praying. Afterwards, a person of moral virtue was selected from among the crowd, dressed and capped spotlessly, and stood still on the dais for a long time, eventually ascending, at which the remainder were all left dejected, saying goodbye and leaving. Then a multi-coloured auspicious cloud gathered, extending from the cave over to the altar. The virtuous person, robe and hat quite still, rode the cloud and ascended to the grotto’s entrance, where a great scarlet lantern guided their way. The spectators without exception wept and snivelled in admiration and envy, gazing into the distance and making obeisance. This continued for several years, and none were chosen whose lack of virtue or destiny in the Way provoked resentment.

The next year, the crowd chose someone of great age, and just as he ascended, a person of the Way said that he had come from Wudangshan to take up residence at a monastery, and asked what was going on; everything was explained to him. The monk sighed in admiration of this, and said: “Ascension as an immortal, now, [260] who would have thought it could be so easy? In the void there must, however, be noble spirits among the strong celestial winds, and one must be able to intercept them. I have a token which can protect against this; please place it on your chest, and be careful not to lose it.” The virtuous one placed it on his chest, and was delighted. When the time came the multi-coloured cloud wound around his feet, and he gradually ascended.

The following day, the monk sent his people to the edge of the cliff, in order to look into the cave. There they saw the levitated person lying emaciated and haggard as if suffering from serious illness, breathing with difficulty and eventually just about able to speak. When questioned, he said: “Just as I reached the cave mouth, I caught sight of a huge python, spitting a haze that became clouds, with two eyes like fires. Just as it opened its jaws, intending to swallow me, there came a sudden quaking of wind and storm, striking it dead at the edge of the cavern.” When they looked, it was a python of several arm spans around, dozens of zhang (3.3m) in length. Moreover, there were skeletons piled up around the cave, which were the bones of the levitated people. The multi-coloured cloud was the python’s poisoned breath, and the scarlet lantern its glowing eyes.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.259-60 (Tale 471):

蟒精為妖

南中有選仙道場,在一峭崖石壁之下,其絕頂石洞穴,相傳以為神仙之窟宅,時有雲氣蒙藹。常有學道之人築室於下,見一仙人現前,曰:「每年中元日,宜推選有德行之人祭壇,當得上昇為仙。」於是學道慕仙之人咸萃於彼。至期,遠近之人齎香赴壇下,遙望洞門祝禱,而後衆推道德高者一人,嚴潔衣冠,佇立壇上,以候上昇,餘皆慘然訣別而退。於時有五色祥雲油然,自洞而至壇場。其道高者,衣冠不動,躡雲而昇至洞門,則有大紅紗燈籠引導。觀者靡不涕泗健羨,遙望作禮。如是者數年,人皆以為道緣德薄,未得應選為恨。至次年,衆又推舉一年高者,方上昇間,忽一道人云自武當山來掛搭,問其所以,具以實對。道人亦嗟羨之,曰:「上昇為仙, [260] 豈容易得?但虛空之中有剛風浩氣,必能遏截。吾有一符能禦之,請置於懷,慎勿遺失。」道德高者懷之,喜甚。至時果有五色祥雲捧足,冉冉而昇。踰日,道人遣其衆緣崖登視洞穴,見飛昇之人形容枯槁,橫卧於上,若重病者,奄奄氣息,久方能言。問之,則曰:「初至洞門,見一巨蟒,吐氣成雲,兩眼如火,方開口欲吞啗間,忽風雷大震,霹死於洞畔。」視之,蟒大數圍,長數十丈,又有骸骨積於巖穴之間,乃前後上昇者骨也。蓋五色雲者,乃蟒之毒氣也;紅紗燈籠者,蟒之眼光也。

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).

General Zhou Sells Horses 周將軍賣馬

General Zhou was a deity assigned to the Lingshun Temple. The Song court once sold a hundred horses with saddle and bridle in Jiangbei, but the asking price was too high. The buyer asked: “What special qualities do these horses have to make them so expensive?” The reply came: “Our horses can walk on water.” On testing this it turned out to be true. They negotiated a price, and the next day returned with several hundred riders. The northern army rode the horses to cross the river, but a black wind arose on all sides, the riders all fell into the water, and saw that the stream was covered with painted paper horses. Suddenly the banners of General Zhou materialized among the clouds. The Song military commissioner reported the matter to the court, who declared him Marquis of the Righteous Response, [215] with the name ‘Might of Raising Great Wind and Horses’, referring to this incident.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.214-15 (Tale 380):

周將軍賣馬

周將軍乃靈順廟部神。宋朝嘗以馬百匹連鞍轡售於江北,索價太高。買者曰:「馬有何奇而價如許?」曰:「吾馬能行水上。」試之果然。議價定,明日再以數百騎來,北軍騎之渡江,俄頃黑風四起,人皆墜水,但見蔽江紙馬而已。忽現周將軍旗於雲間。宋趙製置奏聞於朝,封翊應侯, [215] 誥詞云「大起風馬之威」,指此也。

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 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).

Employing Magic for Theft 幻術謀財

[89] Yi Digong and his wife, of Chunbaishui in Yuanyi, were devotees of the Dao, and enjoyed offering hospitality to Daoists. One Liu Tianxi turned up, saying that Digong should eat with him. Liu took up paper and cut out a crane, and blew it onto the top of the hall, where it transformed into a real crane, and moved through the room. When Digong emerged in alarm to ask about this, the Daoist had already departed, leaving him frustrated and annoyed for some time. After five more days he arrived by riding the clouds, at which Digong and his wife bowed to him and said they wished to seek immortality through study of the Dao. This Tianxi declined because he had to cross the Kunlun to attend a banquet, but agreed to return in seven days; when he had finished speaking he mounted the clouds slowly and left; Digong and his wife treated him as a god.

Afterwards, when he came back as agreed, they again bowed to him, asking as to the method of studying to immortality. Tianxi said: “To study immortality, one must first traverse famous peaks and great rivers; now I will make an arrangement with Digong; you should send someone to pass Tengwang Tower in Longxing, arranging to arrive after several days, but with Digong setting off that same day.” When that day came, Tianxi and Digong boarded a boat together. He ordered Digong to close his eyes, and after a short period, the Tengwang Tower and the river and peaks around it were all clear before him, the person he had sent in advance waiting before the building, arguing with someone wearing broad shoes. Digong attached himself to Tianxi’s back, so that they could return; his subordinate was still unaware. After a short time, Digong awoke. After a further ten days, the servant returned; when Digong reproved him about his argument with the sandal-wearers he was terrified and astonished.

Because of this all of Digong’s household came to believe in this immortal, who lectured and explained studies in the way of immortality night and day. Tianxi spoke to Digong again; he should sell all their fields, property and stored goods, construct two large boats, sailing together through the rivers and lakes, seeking an auspicious area in which to scale the heights and view the landscape, which would make the change to immortality easy. Digong followed this teaching, going together with his wife, children and servants, saying farewell to their relatives, leaving their home village and climbing aboard on a favourable day. When the boat reached Longxing, Tianxi sent Digong and one or two of his followers into the town to but some goods. As soon as Digong stepped onto the riverbank, Tianxi ordered the boatmen steering both Digong’s family’s boat and his own to float away into the distance. A long time elapsed before his return, in the expanse of water he could not discern where the boat was, and nor was there anybody to ask; Digong began to realise he had been duped. The next day he informed the authorities; at that time Fang Jiafeng was in charge of river transport, and sent staff searching along the banks, bridges and fords, but eventually they lost his track, and Digong returned crestfallen.

After a year had passed, a Baishui trader who was involved in a commercial lawsuit happened to encounter a slave girl who spoke with a Baishui accent, but who refused to speak when questioned. He ascended into Digong’s house and told his wife, who ordered that he tell the full story, which went: “With her belonging to the village, she must be one of your relatives; I climbed the building in the morning of the following day, to seize the Daoist, return him to the village, and claim a share in the stolen property.” The next day, when a multitude of traders had indeed arrived, they bound the Daoist’s hands, and, due to his several crimes, but the Daoist had already lost his property. The multitude reported it to the [90] authorities, who sent a report to Hong. Hong, due to the report submitted by Digong the previous year, was finally able to return Digong’s wife to her home. After a further year, the Daoist came back, and Digong’s household waited on him as before, only saying: “Shame, shame. If things had been different the whole household could have become immortals.” He stayed a further six months, and it is still not known what magic he used to achieve all of this.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.88-90 (Tale 153):

幻術謀財

[89] 袁宜春白水易迪功夫婦好道,喜接道人。有劉天錫來者,云迪功方食。劉以紙翦鶴吹入廳上,遂化真鶴行入所,迪功驚出問故,道人已去,懊恨久之。又五日乘雲至,迪功夫婦拜之,告以欲求仙學道。於是天錫辭以過崐崘赴宴,約七日再至,言畢乘雲冉冉而去,迪功夫婦神之。後如約來,又拜之,問學仙之法,天錫云:「若學仙,先須遍歷名山大川,今與迪功約,可遣一人過隆興滕王閣,約幾日至,卻於是日與迪功同往。」迪功欲驗其言,遂遣人行,且云:「此至隆興約八日。」至其日,天錫與迪功登舟,令迪功閉目,片時,則滕王閣江山歷歷皆在目中,所遣之人已在閣上,與博屨者喧爭矣。迪功附其背使之歸,其人不知。有頃,迪功醒。又十日僕歸,迪功責其博屨喧爭之事,僕怪駭。由是迪功之家皆信為神仙,日夜講明學仙之道。天錫復與迪功言,當盡鬻所有之田產並所藏之貨物,造二大舟,共遊江湖,求福地而登覽之,則求仙易矣。迪功盡如其教,與妻孥臧獲之屬,辭親戚,別鄉井,卜日登舟。舟次隆興,天錫驅迪功與一二從者入城市物。迪功既登岸,天錫令舟人駕迪功家眷之舟與自己之舟飄然遠去。久之方歸,渺不知舟之所在,且無所問,迪功始以為欺己。次日告之官,時方蛟峰為漕,遣人沿岸橋津物色,竟失蹤跡,迪功怏怏而歸。又一年間,白水有為商於獄市者,忽見一婢似白水人聲音,問之,婢不言,登樓告迪功之婦,婦令人告之故,且云:「既為鄉人,可相作親屬,明日午前登樓擒道人,則我可歸故鄉,所攜之物當中分之。」明午,衆商果至,手紐道人,數以脫騙之罪,而道人已隨手失矣。衆相 [90] 與告官,官移文於洪。洪回文具迪功去年所告之因,迪功之婦始得回鄉。又明年,道人再來,迪功之家待之如舊,但云:「可惜可惜,不然全家可仙矣。」又留半年始去,竟不知其何術也。

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).