The Xiao of Geshan 閣山𤡔

In the xinmao year of the Gandao era (1171 CE), no rain fell in Raozhou for a very long time, and the rivers’ flow was blocked. Three fishermen of Geshan Route went empty-handed to the Fan River to catch fish. Two went ahead, but one of them felt his two thighs suddenly turn cold as ice, feeling a slight trace of saliva, and, terrified lest there be the lair of a xiao beneath him, scrambled out urgently.[1] One person alone did not see this and, having told his family he would provide for them, stayed to return at dusk. Two days later, his corpse floated some five li distant, with a fist-sized hole below the left thigh, the whole body entirely white, that being due to a xiao having curled around it and sucked his blood. In shape the xiao is just like an eel, eight or nine chi in length (c.2.7m), and is a kind of flood dragon. Among the Geshan populace, one Li Shi once caught one of these.

Hong Mai, Yi Jian Zhi, ii, 丙17.509

閣山𤡔

亁道辛卯歲,饒州久不雨,江流皆澁。閣山道漁者三人,空手入番江捕魚。二人先出,其一覺兩股忽冷如冰,微有涎沫,懼𤡔穴其下,故急出。獨一人不見,告其家守之,至暮而還。後二日,尸浮於五里外,左股下一穴如拳大,舉體皆白,蓋為𤡔所繞而吮其血也。𤡔狀全與鰻鱺魚同,長至八九尺,亦蛟類也。閣山民李十嘗捕得之。

Hong Mai 洪邁, He Zhuo 何卓 (ed.), Yi Jian Zhi 夷堅志 (Record of Yi Jian) 4 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981)

[1] The character xiao 𤡔 is treated by the MOE dictionary of character variants as a variation on xiao 梟 ‘owl’, but this story clearly indicates a rather interesting and different aquatic nature for the creature in question. See http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra01951.htm.

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An Honest Heart Moves Heaven 平心感天

Chen Renfu, of Tiaolu Village, Gao’an County, resided in some wealth in a farmhouse in the village, specializing in the study of Buddhism and Daoism. Each year, in the spring, he would reserve two thousand dan of millet, and, in the fifth or sixth month of the following year, when grain was expensive, he would sell his grain at a reduced price. When the money was handed over, he’d have the buyers enter the granary themselves and would not let them take anything until the scales were perfectly level. The village all called him ‘Chen Weigh-It-Yourself’. At that time there was a terrible drought; the prefectural chief prayed for relief, but without result. One night he dreamed that the town god said: “Chen Weigh-It-Yourself has the rain.” When he awoke from the dream, he sent servants to seek a meeting at the prefecture offices. On seeing him, he was delighted, preparing candles and incense, having monks chant sutras and ordering them to pray for his longevity. Chen said: “Your servant is just a villager, lacking any skill with which to pray for rain.” The prefectural chief told him about the dream, and urged him strongly. Chen had no choice but to light incense and turn his face to heaven, praying earnestly and begging for three days of continuous heavy rain to relieve somewhat the worry and pain of the populace. When evening fell there was indeed a great rainfall, which only stopped after three days, and the people of the prefecture were all delighted. This benevolent elder’s daily reduction of grain prices was enough to move the heavens.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.108 (Tale 189):

平心感天

高安縣調露鄉陳仁父,居村田宅稍富,專事釋老之學。每年春留穀二千石,至次年五六月米貴之時,減價發糶,既交錢,令糴者自入倉內量出,不許多取,務要兩平。一村稱之曰「陳自量」。時大旱,太守祈求不應,夜夢城隍曰:「調露鄉陳自量有雨。」夢覺,差人尋訪赴郡。太守見之,喜具香燭,僧道誦經,就令祈禱。陳曰:「某村夫,無術可以祈雨。」太守以所夢事告,強之。陳不免炷香,對空而禱,乞降霖雨三日,以濟焦沽(「沽」,疑當作「枯」。)少甦民望。至晚果大雨,三日方止,一郡之人皆悅。蓋仁父平日減米價,足以感天也。

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).

Tang Of Shang Prays To Heaven 商湯祝天

The Shuoyuan records: In the reign of Tang 湯 (c. 1675-46 BCE) there was a great drought lasting seven years, frying sand and rotting stone. Due to this, he had people use tripods to pray to the mountains and rivers, ordering them to pray: “Does our governance lack moderation? Do we make our populace ill? Are our gifts suitable? Do slanderers prosper? Is our palace sublime? Are female intrigues succeeding? Why not grant us the greatest of rains?” When they had finished speaking, heaven sent great rains.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.18 (Tale 88):

商湯祝天

《說苑》曰:湯時大旱七年,煎沙爛石。於是使人以三足鼎祝山川,教之祝曰:「政不節耶?使民疾耶?苞苴行耶?讒夫昌耶?宮室崇耶?女謁盛耶?何不雨之極也?」言未既,天大雨。

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)

Blazing Star Beauty* 明星玉女

The Jade Maiden of Venus lived on Huashan. Drinking a jade brew, she ascended to the heavens in broad daylight. On the mountain peak there was a stone turtle, its breadth several mu, and its height three ren. At its side there was a stone staircase, and all this was visible from afar. Before the Jade Maiden’s shrine there was a five-dan stone mortar, called ‘the Jade Maiden’s hair-washing bowl.’ The colour of water within it was a deep transparent green; rain did not cause it to overflow, and drought did not cause it to dry out. In the hall stood a single jade horse.

From the Jixianlu.

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), ii, 59.362

明星玉女

明星玉女者,居華山。服玉漿,白日昇天。山頂石龜,其廣數畝,高三仞。其側有梯磴,遠皆見。玉女祠前有五石臼,號曰玉女洗頭盆。其中水色,碧綠澄澈,雨不加溢,旱不減耗。祠內有玉石馬一匹焉。出集仙錄

*Title edited to adopt the excellent suggestion from Ofer Waldman (see comments).

 

A Spring Contains A Pig-Dragon 泉有豬龍

By the side of a road in Qingshen County within Meizhou there is a small Buddha Hall, commonly known as the Buddha of the Sow Mother. When Su Dongpo (1037-1101) asked the local people about this, they said: “A century ago a sow prostrated herself there, and transformed into a spring with two carp; she was a pig-dragon. People petitioned the sow to grant them motherhood, and erected a Buddha Hall over it, hence the name.” The spring emerged upwards from rock, its depth not reaching two chi (about 66cm), but even in severe droughts it never stopped running. People could never see the carp, however. One day Dongpo told this to his wife’s brother Wang Yuan, but Yuan thought it absurd and preposterous. Unable to settle Yuan’s doubts, he went together with Yuan to pray at the spring, where the latter said: “Grant, if this is not all nonsense, another glimpse of the fish.” Before long the two carp emerged once again. Yuan was terrified, bowing over and over again and requesting forgiveness for his misdeed, and then departing.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.266 (Tale 483):

泉有豬龍

眉州青神縣道側有小佛堂,俗謂豬母佛。蘇東坡問之土人,曰:「百年前有牝豬伏於此,化為泉,有二鯉魚在泉中,蓋豬龍也。人請牝豬為母,而立佛堂其上,故以名之。」泉出石上,深不及二尺,大旱不竭,而鯉莫有見者。一日東坡以其事告妻兄王愿,愿疑之妄誕,不平其疑,與愿俱至井禱之泉上曰:「予若不妄言,魚當復見。」已而二鯉復出,愿大驚,再拜謝罪而去。

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 Dragon Spits A Precious Pearl 龍吐寶珠

Yangli Cliff was fifteen li from Nanxiong City, and there were two crags, the upper containing a dragon pool and the lower the Qilin Temple. When a harvest was affected by drought, the prefectural commander prayed for rain. One day clouds and mists arose together, and the eldest resident climbed the crag to look at them. A dragon spat out a pearl, as big as a hen’s egg, with a tiny dragon moving around within. The prefectural commander placed this in a box, wrapped in yellow cloth, and kept it in the area garrison post. Afterwards a prefectural commander stole it as he returned home, but as he arrived beneath the ridge there arose high wind, lightning and rain. The commander was terrified, and immediately sent people to return it to its original place. After the chaos of war during the bingzi year of the Zhiyuan era (1276), it was no longer in existence.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.265 (Tale 481):

龍吐寶珠

楊歷巖距南雄城十五里,有二巖,上有龍潭,下有祈林寺。歲旱,郡守禱而雨。一日雲霧雜襲,父宿登巖視之,龍吐一珠,大如雞子,中有小龍動躍,郡守以匣載,以黃袱裹之,留鎮此鄉。後有郡守私竊而歸者,至於嶺下,遂烈風雷雨。守驚,徑差人送還本處。至元丙子大兵,後不存矣。

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).

Li Yue Prays For Rain 梨岳祈雨

When Shi Yuzhi (1216-1293) was judge over Jianning Prefecture, the climate settled into a severe drought. At Li Yue the prefecture had a powerful spirit, and one day Mr Shi went to pray in the ancestral hall, saying: “The spirit is a deity who enjoys the offerings from this land; your servant is a minister upholding an order to protect this land; this prefecture has long suffered drought, the seedlings and grains will soon wilt; if the spirit does not send rain, how will our hearts be soothed? Now I will pour two cups of wine; the spirit will drink one, your servant will drink one, and if the spirit sends sweet timely rain, commendation at court will bring generous titles and rewards. If there is no rain, destruction will visit your statue and fire your temple.” Mr Shi lifted a cup of wine, and the spirit emptied the cup of wine in front of him. Just as he emerged from the temple gate, dark clouds gathered, rain fell in torrents, and duckweed covered all around, vapour rising to blanket the earth. When the rain stopped, the water of the western river had quite dried up. They thus realized that the spirit had transported that to use as rain.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.223 (Tale 396):

梨岳祈雨

史宇之以大觀文殿學士判建寧府,值天時亢旱,郡有神靈於梨岳,一日禱於祠,曰:「神為血食此土之神,某奉君命守土之臣,斯郡久旱,苗稼將枯,神不降雨,我心何安?今釃酒二,神飲其一,某飲其一,若神降甘澍,保奏朝廷,厚其封贈。其或不雨,毀像焚廟。」史公舉杯一飲,而神前杯酒已竭矣。甫出門,陰雲四合,雨即霶霈,與萍俱下,水已帶土氣。雨止,西河之水已竭。乃知神運河之水以為雨也。

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).