Cui Maobo 崔茂伯

The daughter of Cui Maobo married one Pei Zu’er. Her husband’s home was more than five hundred li distant, and after several years had passed she had still not arrived there. During the eighth month, she died suddenly. Pei was not yet aware of this when, as darkness was about to fall, the woman appeared at Pei’s gate, clapping her hands and requesting entry. Carrying a gold jar a little over two sheng (2 litres) in size, she came to his bed and stood before it. Pei told her to sit, and asked where she had come from. The woman told him: “I am the daughter of Cui, Magistrate of Qinghe. While still young I learned of the gentleman’s betrothal to me. Unfortunately I passed away, so our happy union was not to be. Although our wedding feast will never take place, we are already united in purpose, and I therefore came to inform the gentleman.” She then presented Pei with the gold vessel as a parting gift.

After she had departed, Pei informed his father of the matter. His father wanted to send a message to confirm this, but Pei said: “Betrothed to the Cuis as a child, we should not now react like this. I should go there in person.” His father permitted this. When Pei arrived, the woman had indeed been buried, so they exchanged condolences, and Pei described the whole affair, bringing out the jar to show Maobo. This had been placed with the woman in her grave, so they all went to visit the tomb. More than ten li before they arrived, Pei saw the woman again, and she spoke to him. Those around him all heard her voice, but were unable to see her form. Pei yearned to be united with her, and soon fell ill and died. They were buried together.

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, 324.2574:



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:



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

Zhang Yu 張禹

[2518] During the Yongjia era (307-13 CE), the palace guard commander Zhang Yu once travelled through the Great Marsh. The sky had grown dark when he suddenly spotted a mansion with its gates open wide. Yu thus approached and when he arrived before the hall a maid emerged and greeted him. Tu said: “I was passing when the rain started, and would just like to stay over.” The maid entered to report, and soon emerged again, calling Yu forward. He saw a woman, aged around thirty years, seated under a canopy, and waited on by more than twenty maids, their clothing all luminous and beautiful. She asked Yu what he desired. Yu said: “I have my own food, and only need something to drink.” The woman ordered that a shallow pan be brought out and given to him. He therefore kindled a fire to make soup. Despite hearing the water boil, when tried it remained cold.

The woman told him: “I am a dead person, within my tomb mound. I have nobody to share with, only my sense of shame and guilt.” She then began to weep and told Yu: “I am a daughter of the Sun family from Rencheng County, and my father served as Prefectural Chief of Zhongshan. I left to marry into the Li clan of Dunqiu, and bore a son and a daughter. The boy is eleven sui and the girl seven. After my death, the Lis favoured my former maidservant Cheng Gui. Now my son is always beaten, not even sparing his head or face, and pained to the depths of the heart. I wish to kill this maid, but a dead person’s qi force is weak. I have been waiting to find someone on whom I could rely on, and I beg the gentleman to help with the matter. The rewards would be rich.”

Yu said: “Though I cherish Madame’s words, because killing people is a serious matter, I dare not take on this assignment.” The lady replied: “Why would the gentleman be ordered to take up a knife himself? It is only wished that he speak to Li and his family on my behalf, telling them what I have explained. Li will then regret Cheng Gui, and will have to offer prayers to remove this misfortune. The gentleman will then explain that he himself has power to suppress spirits. When Li hears this he will order Cheng Gui to be present for the matter, and I will have the opportunity to kill her.”

Yu made a pledge to her, and set off the next day, telling Li everything he had been told. Li was shocked and terrified, and told Cheng Gui, who was very frightened. They sought help from Yu, but just then he saw the lady Sun coming in from outside, accompanied by more than twenty female attendants. All carried knives and stabbed Cheng Gui, who immediately fell to the floor and died. Before long, Yu passed through the Great Marsh again, and the woman sent her maids out with fifty bolts of zacai coloured silks to reward him.

From Zhiguai.

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, 318.2517-8:


[2518] 永嘉中。黃門將張禹。曾行經大澤中。天陰晦。忽見一宅門大開。禹遂前至廳事。有一婢出問之。禹曰。行次遇雨。欲寄宿耳。婢入報之。尋出。呼禹前。見一女子。年三十許。坐帳中。有侍婢二十餘人。衣服皆燦麗。問禹所欲。禹曰。自有飯。唯須飲耳。女敕取鐺與之。因燃火作湯。雖聞沸聲。探之尚冷。女曰。我亡人也。塚墓之間。無以相共。慙愧而已。因歔欷告禹曰。我是任城縣孫家女。父為中山太守。出適頓丘李氏。有一男一女。男年十一。女年七歲。亡後。李氏幸我舊使婢承貴者。今我兒每被捶楚。不避頭面。常痛極心髓。欲殺此婢。然亡人氣弱。須有所憑。託君助濟此事。當厚報君。禹曰。雖念夫人言。緣殺人事大。不敢承命。婦人曰。何緣令君手刃。唯欲因君為我語李氏家。說我告君事狀。李氏念惜承貴。必作禳除。君當語之。自言能為厭斷之法。李氏聞此。必令承貴莅事。我因伺便殺之。禹許諾。及明而出。遂語李氏。具以其言告之。李氏驚愕。以語承貴。大懼。遂求救於禹。既而禹見孫氏自外來。侍婢二十餘人。悉持刀刺承貴。應手仆地而死。未幾。禹復經過澤中。此人遣婢送五十匹雜綵以報禹。出志怪


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:



Wu Tao 鄔濤

Wu Tao was from Runan. He had skill and knowledge of ancient writings and was committed to the arts of the Way. While travelling he stopped temporarily at the Yiwu County guesthouse in Wuzhou. After more than a month, suddenly a girl appeared, with two serving maids arriving at night.[1] One of the maids came forward and told him: “This young lady is surnamed Wang.” That evening she turned and looked at the gentleman. Tao looked at her, and she was extremely beautiful. He thought, ‘this is the daughter of a great noble’, but did not dare speak. The lady Wang smiled, and said: “The esteemed scholar does not value wine or beauty; how can a mere concubine gain his trust?” Tao then rose and bowed to her, saying: “Such lowly scholars would not dare direct their gaze thus.” The lady Wang ordered a maid to bring her clothing and utensils to Tao’s bedchamber, lighting bright candles and laying out wine and food. They drank several rounds, and then lady Wang rose and addressed Tao: “Your servant is a young orphan without anyone to turn to, and would like to serve the gentleman at his pillow and mat. Would that be acceptable?” Tao initially refused in his humility, but then relented and permitted it in his sincerity. The lady Wang departed at dawn and arrived at dusk, and this continued for several months.

Yang Jingxiao, a Daoist of Tao’s acquaintance, visited and stayed at the residence. On seeing that Tao’s countenance had altered, he advised: “The gentleman has been deluded by spirits and demons. This must be broken off, or death will follow.” Tao questioned him about this in alarm, and then related the whole story. Jingxiao told him: “This is a spirit.” He then provided two amulets, one to attach to clothing, and the other to be fixed above the gate. He said: “When this spirit arrives, she will become very angry. Be careful not to speak to her.” Tao accepted these instructions. When the young woman arrived that night, she saw the token above the gate, let fly a string of curses, and departed, saying: “Remove that tomorrow, or suffer great misfortune.” Tao called on Jingxiao the next day and told him all about it. Jingxiao told him: “When she returns tonight, you should sprinkle her with this water on which I have cast a spell. That will surely bring things to an end.” Tao returned carrying the water. That night, when the woman returned, she was extremely sad and angry. Tao then sprinkled her with the water Jingxiao had treated. Her visits then ceased.

From Jiyiji.

[1] With thanks to Ofer Waldman for the improved translation here.

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, 347.2747:



Magistrate Li Of Wangjiang 望江李令

Magistrate Li of Wangjiang lived in Shuzhou after his dismissal from office. He had two sons, who were extremely intelligent. The magistrate once went to drink wine, returning at sunset. A hundred paces short of his house, he saw his two sons coming to greet him. On reaching him, they grabbed him between them and gave him a beating. The magistrate was alarmed and angry. He let out a great cry, but it was a place far from other people, so nobody knew of his plight. They kept hitting him as he went, but, just as he was about to reach his home his two sons left him and departed. When he arrived at the gate, however, his two sons were just arriving to meet him below the hall. When he questioned them they both said that they had never stepped outside the gate. A little over a month later, the magistrate again held a drinking party, but this time told his host the whole story, asking if he could stay the night as he did not dare return. His sons, however, fearing that he would return at dusk and be beaten again, set out together to meet him. Halfway there, however, they saw their father, who asked them, angrily: “Why would you go out at night?” He then had his attendants beat them, before letting them go. The next day, the magistrate returned, and was even more shocked at these events. Before several months had passed, father and sons were all dead.

People of the region say: ‘In Shu there are mountain spirits, and they excel in such cruelty, as they are followers of Liqiu.’[1]

From Jishenlu.

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, 353.2797:



[1] Translation revised with generous help from Ofer Waldman. Thanks Ofer!

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



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

An Unscrupulous Officer of the Way 法官不戒

Zhang Shengyuan, known as the ‘Sender of Thunder’, diligently followed the Way of Thunder, possessing exceptional power and efficacy; the populace all treated him as a transcendent. He resided in Lingdao Hall. One evening, when he was walking in the mountains, he defiled a village woman. When he returned at dusk, he lit a lamp, but there came the sound of a mouth eating and chewing, and suddenly dead fell to the ground. When the thunder spirits are like this, how can those scholars who follow the Way be disrespectful?

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.166 (Tale 289):



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 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:



[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

Apes Invite A Physician 猿請醫士

A physician of Shangzhou had taken up his case and was offering treatment on the road. One day, as dusk turned to night, he was seized by several people and taken away so fast they almost flew. The physician yelled out for help, but the villagers who gathered could not wrest him away. His captors having stopped in a narrow defile among crags, the physician touched them and found they were all covered in fur. After several more li, they reached a stone chamber, where he saw an elderly ape laid out on a stone bed and attended by numerous women, all of whom were quite beautiful in appearance. One of the women spoke to the physician: “The general suffers stomach pains.” The physician diagnosed dyspepsia, so gave him a dose of food-dispersing medicine to take. The elderly ape was then able to rise to a sitting position, and instructed the woman to give him a kerchief, and ordered several people to escort him back.

On reaching his home he looked inside the kerchief, and its contents were all silver and gold. The next day he took these to sell, but someone recognised them as their family property, and wanted to go straight to the authorities. The physician told them of their origin, returning all of the property, and the matter was then resolved. It happened that another night several people again requested that he go with them, and then he saw the old ape wore an ashamed expression. The woman gave him another kerchief, saying that these objects had been obtained rather further away, and he could sell them without hindrance. The physician returned with these, and subsequently became very wealthy.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.254 (Tale 458):



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).