You Shizi 游氏子

In the northern corner of Xudu’s western district there stood the residence of General Zhao. After the patriarch’s passing, his descendants had scattered. The place then became inauspicious, and nobody dared live there. A close friend of theirs then posted a notice on the village gates, reading: ‘If someone dares reside there, they may consider it a gift.’ At the beginning of the Qianfu era (874-80 CE), there came along one You Shizi, fierce and stubborn by nature, braver and quicker than most. On seeing the notice, he said: “Your humble servant is a brave warrior. Even if there are strange demons and weird spirits, I’ll certainly control them.” It was then the height of summer, and, when night fell, he took up his sword and entered. The house was deep and silent, and the entrance hall long and broad. You Shizi laid out his mat in the courtyard, arranged his summer robe and sat. When the end of the first watch had been sounded, all was silent, and there had been no alarms. You Shizi grew weary, so he used his sword as a pillow and lay down facing the hall.

Just as the half watch was about to sound, he suddenly heard a ga-ya sound as the rear gate opened. Candles were lit in even lines, and several dozen servants sprinkled water and swept the hall, opening the high windows, stretching out the scarlet curtains and embroidered drapes, laying out seating mats and precious objects. Strange and rare fragrances wafted among the eaves and pillars. You’s heart told him that these were only minor spirits, and he did not yet feel moved to use force against them. He waited to watch them through to the finish. After a short while, they took up musical instruments, and several dozen people dressed in red and purple ascended the stairs from the eastern wing. Several dozen singers and dancers emerged from behind the hall and entered through the front. Those in the purple robes remained [2786] in front, and people in red, green and white clothing formed a second layer. A further twenty or more people talked and laughed together happily, bowing to one another and sitting down. At this strings and pipes struck up together, glasses were raised and toasts shared as the dancers moved in unison.

You Shizi wanted to charge forward and seize their ringleader. He was about to get up when he felt something pressing down between his thighs. It was cold and it was heavy, and he simply could not rise. He wanted to shout out, but his mouth trembled, unable to make a sound, so he watched the happy celebrations continue on until a loud, loud drum sounded. At this the sitting mats dispersed, the lights and fires were all doused, and all was as still as it had first been. You Shizi was bathed in sweat, his heart racing, as he crawled prostrate to the exit. Only long after reaching the gate could he speak once more. In the end nobody dared to live in the house.

From Sanshui xiaodu.

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), viii, 352.2785-86

游氏子

許都城西之北陬。有趙將軍宅。主父既沒。子孫流移。其處遂凶。莫敢居者。親近乃牓於里門曰。有居得者。便相奉。乾符初。許有游氏子者。性剛悍。拳捷過人。見牓曰。僕猛士也。縱奇妖異鬼。必有以制之。時盛夏。既夕。携劍而入。室宇深邃。前庭廣袤。游氏子設簟庭中。絺綌而坐。一鼓盡。聞寂無驚。游氏子倦。乃枕劍面堂而臥。再鼓將半。忽聞軋然開後門聲。蠟炬齊列。有役夫數十。於堂中洒掃。闢前軒。張朱簾繡幕。陳筵席寶器。異香馥於簷楹。游子心謂此小魅耳。未欲迫之。將觀其終。少頃。執樂器。紆朱紫者數十輩。自東廂升階。歌舞妓數十輩自後堂出。入於前堂。紫衣者居 [2786] 前。朱綠衣白衣者次之。亦二十許人。言笑自若。揖讓而坐。於是絲竹合奏。飛觴舉白。歌舞間作。游氏子欲前突。擒其渠魁。將起。乃覺髀間為物所壓。冷且重。不能興。欲大叫。口哆而不能聲。但觀堂上歡洽。直至嚴鼓。席方散。燈火既滅。寂爾如初。游氏子駭汗心悸。匍伏而出。至里門。良久方能語。其宅後卒無敢居者。出三水小牘

The Spirit of Harmony 和合之神

Elder Brother Wan Hui had tousled hair, his face bore a laughing smile, his right hand held a drum, his left hand grasped the stick. Among those buying and selling in the markets of Hangzhou, and in the households of the populace, there were none who did not make offerings to him, giving at least a meal, saying that he was the spirit of harmony, and that those who offered to him even could bring people back from myriads of li in distance. Those buying and selling in business prayed to him, and none went unfulfilled, so they called him ‘ten thousand returns.’ Offerings are also made to him at the Tiezhu Temple and Wudang Peak Temple in Longxing.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.21 (Tale 393):

和合之神

萬回哥哥,蓬頭,面帶笑容,左手擎鼓,右手執棒。杭州市肆買賣及居民之家無不奉祀,一飯必祭,云是和合之神,奉祀之,可以使人在萬里之外,亦能回來。買賣經營禱之,無不應驗,故名萬回。龍興鐵柱觀側、武當山觀內亦奉祀之。

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).

Ghosts Play Music 鬼動絲竹

Zhao [?]Efu was Deputy Magistrate in Tanzhou, and had been in the post for two months. One evening, returning from a drinking engagement with colleagues, at midnight he heard the sound of strings and woodwind coming from the next wall; Zhao wondered at this, and questioned his retinue, who answered: “Next door is an old residence with courtyard and garden; whenever it is rainy and overcast music and drums start up together, but it is not music of this world.” Once, not long after, Chong, one of Zhao’s deputies, had died suddenly, and when they were about to collect his coffin Chong’s corpse suddenly leapt up and sat, [?]stiffening its feet[?], and sticking out its tongue three or four cun (roughly inches), it then bit down, and blood flowing freely, suddenly fell on its back and [?]expired[?]. Outside the hall the music sounded even more clear and resonant than before. It was then they realised that these were ghosts of those dying suddenly.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.238 (Tale 429):

鬼動絲竹

趙通判[王+葛]夫倅潭州,在任兩月。一夕,同僚會飲歸,夜半聞隔牆有管絃絲竹之聲,趙怪之,問左右,乃曰:「隔牆乃是舊宅院花園,凡遇陰雨,鼓樂交作,非陽世之音樂也。」曾不踰時,趙倅一寵暴亡,臨斂棺時,寵屍忽躍起而坐,札腳,吐舌長三四寸,咬血淋漓,須臾偃逝,庭外絲竹之音響亮非常比。時乃知皆此暴亡之鬼也。

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).

Stopping the Releasing Life Festival 罷放生會

The Yanxiang Temple in Tanzhou had celebrated the Releasing Life Festival for many years in the third, fourth, sixth and eighth months. On the third day of the third month in the first year Kangding (16 April 1040), the birthday of Zhenwu (the Lord of Profound Heaven), birds and animals of the water were bought in advance, taken in ceremonial order past the prefectural pavilion and approaching the Yangtze, led by bells and cymbals, they were set free with chants and praise. Among these living things some were hurled towards the void and took flight, some were scattered into the water and swam. Of those that flew, some sank back down, some lay on the river’s surface. Some of the birds had their feet or wings trapped by glue, and others were hunted and shot with bows and arrows or catapults and pellets; when they are injured and killed in this way, the sound of their lamentations and cries cannot be borne. When the aquatic creatures are lured into the broad net and seized, or hunted with the bamboo basket and taken, scales, shells, heads and tails all torn and damaged, leaping and jumping with mouth wide but cries unheard; this sight cannot be borne. People from the four distant quarters having just heard of this release of life, vied with one another to stretch their nets and sell in the market, this having the contrary result of causing harm to living creatures. When the monk Sun Yuan’an was presiding over the hall, a mendicant priest approached the foot of the pulpit, intending to speak on the cause of the gathering, opposing Yuan’an’s offerings to the release. The priest said: “It should not be called ‘releasing life’, as it is premeditated murder.” None among the whole group opposed this, and afterwards the ceremony was abandoned. In the main this thing called release of life is actually the sale and purchase of animals and fish, bringing great wealth to hunters. Fulfilling this sees nets stretched wide for later release; how can this be right?

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.72 (Tale 126):

罷放生會

潭州延祥宮,遞年三月、四月、六月、八月有放生社會。康定元年三月三日真武生辰,預買飛禽水族,例往州亭,臨大江,用磬鈸引導,讚詠放生。諸般物命或向空而飛,或漾水而遊,其飛沉之物,或向空復墮,或水面仰浮,飛禽者翅與足或被膠黏,或弓彈射獵,如有傷折,哀鳴愁噪之聲不忍聞也。如水族者罾釣張取、籮籃采捕,鱗甲頭尾皆有破損,跳躍張口之狀但叫嗸不出,不忍目之。四遠之人纔聞放生,爭競張捕以賣於市,反至損害物命。道士損元宴升堂,有雲遊道士至講下,願講此會之因,元宴遂以放生祝壽為對,道人曰:「非曰放生,即是故殺。」周無以對。後此會遂廢。大抵放生之說,遇有禽魚之類出賣者,買而放之則獲福無量,發章張羅網捕之而後縱之,豈可乎!

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).

Spirits Drink in the Watchtower 鬼飲譙樓

Vice Minister Yue Ke, the grandson of Wu Mu,[1] administered Jiaxing Fu. For several nights the drums in the watchtower failed to sound, so he reproached those charged with the night watch, who said: “Each night when the watches start, there are [236] five people who go to the tower to drink, their dishes and utensils all gold and silver, spreading out rare delicacies. They say they are relatives of the Vice Minister, so we dare not sound the watches.” The prefectural chief commanded that they return that evening and report back in secret. That night the chief sat in the Qingxiang building, ordering that two Record-Keepers bring his seal of office before him, and chose twenty seasoned soldiers, each fully armed and waiting at the foot of the tower. At midnight the watch drummers came to report, saying that the drinking party was taking place in the watchtower. The chief’s Record-Keeper took up his seal of office and stood before them, saying: “Vice-Minister Yue, Governor of Jiaxing Fu, wishes to meet you.” The five people then scattered in alarm. The governor sat among them, picking up and inspecting the utensils; all were real silver and gold, and he ruled that they be confiscated for public use in the government stores, and the demonic incidents then stopped.

[1] This probably refers to Song general Yue Fei 岳飛 (1103-42), famed for his resistance to the Jin, who received the posthumous title Wumu. See Songshi, 365.11375-95.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.235-36 (Tale 424):

鬼飲譙樓

岳侍郎珂,武穆之孫,知嘉興府。譙樓數夜更鼓不鳴,責問直更者,曰:「每夜一更時分,有 [236] 五人到樓飲酒,皆金銀器皿,羅列珍味,稱係侍郎親眷,所以不敢打更。」太守分付,謂今晚再來,當密通報。是夜太守坐清香樓,命提控官兩人攜府印來前,擇精兵二十人,各執器械在樓下伺候。中夜直更者果來報,謂正在譙樓飲酒。守令提控攜印而前曰:「知嘉興府岳侍郎請相見。」其五人者即為驚散。守據中坐,取視器皿,皆真金銀器,判付公使庫公用,邪魅遂息。

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).