Ma Daoyou 馬道猷

Under the Southern Qi (479-502 CE) Ma Daoyou served as Director of the Department of State Affairs. In the first year Yongming (483), seated in the palace he suddenly saw spirits filling the space before him; the people around him saw nothing. Soon after, two spirits entered his ears, pulling out his ethereal soul, which fell onto his shoes. He pointed at it to show people, saying, “Gentlemen, do you see this?” None of those around him could see anything, so they asked him what his ethereal soul looked like. Daoyou said: “The ethereal soul looks exactly like a toad.” He said: “There can be no way to survive. The spirits are now in the ears. Look at how they swell up.” The following day he died. Taken from Shuyiji.

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, 327.2992

馬道猷

南齊馬道猷為尚書令史。永明元年。坐省中。忽見鬼滿前。而傍人不見。須臾兩鬼入其耳中。推出魂。魂落屐上。指以示人。諸君見否。傍人並不見。問魂形狀云何。道猷曰。魂正似蝦蟇。云。必無活理。鬼今猶在耳中。視其耳皆腫。明日便死。出述異記

Advertisements

A Dead Soul Returns Home 死魂歸家

In the autumn of the renwu year in the Zhiyuan era (1282), the lady née Chen, wife of Zhao Ruosu, fell ill and died. A little after three weeks later, her nephew Chen Hong came, lodging anxiously in the library. Zhao’s mother, lady Chen, lay in her coffin in the neighbouring room. Suddenly, during the night, the sound of a human voice emanated from the coffin, continuing indistinctly for some time. Not long after, there came several loud raps on the table, and a stern voice called: “Girl! I’m quite unable to help myself, and then you come to stir up trouble!” Chen, terrified, gathered candles and unlocked the door, but all was quiet with nothing to see. On the table the sustaining offerings were covered in dust, but visible among this were two fresh palm-prints. The next day at noon, news of their neighbour’s daughter’s death arrived. They then realised that the previous night’s voice was the dead woman’s soul receiving advance warning of this.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.241 (Tale 436):

死魂歸家

至元壬午秋,趙若涑妻陳氏病卒。越二旬,其姪陳紘來,懸宿於書館內。隔房乃趙母陳氏柩在焉。忽中夜聞柩間有人語聲,良久莫辨。未幾忽拍桌兩下,厲聲曰:「女兒,我自也沒奈何,你又來相攪!」陳大恐,朋燭啟鑰,寂無所見。供養桌上皆塵埃,視之有二掌痕獨新。次日午,果趙之適女訃音至。始知昨夕之聲,(「聲」,明刻本作「怪」。)魂已先知矣。

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).

Squeezing the Souls of Dancers and Musicians 掩魂妓樂

In Nanhai Prefecture there was one surnamed Yang, who called himself a retired scholar, and once told people: “I have skill in magic.” The prefectural chief was keen on sorcery, and was delighted to hear of the retired scholar’s arrival. He never held a banquet or a tour without first summoning the gentleman. One day, because he had to wait on the prefectural chief, the latter was holding a feast in the prefectural hall, there was a great review of dancers and musicians, but the retired scholar was unable to take part. At that time a number of other guests were also unable to join the feast, so they spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman once claimed magical skill. Today the prefectural chief is holding a great feast and the gentleman is not invited; can a magical act move him?” The scholar laughed and said: “This is extremely easy. I can summon the prefectural chief for the gentleman to bring dancers and music and pour your drinks!” He therefore ordered the provision of wine, and had the various guests get into a circle and sit. After a little while, several dozen women emerged from an empty chamber in the western corridor, jewelled and clothed in lustre and brilliance. Each carried a musical instrument, and on his order they played and began to sing and dance. Some of the guests asked where they had come from, but they all just laughed without speaking. When midnight came, the gentleman addressed the dancers, saying: “You may return.” At this they all departed downwards through the empty room in the western corridor. The [86] guests looked at each other in astonished admiration, and suspected that they were some kind of spirits or goblins. Until the next day one after another passed around the rumour, saying that the prefectural chief held a feast last night, and all the musicians fell to the ground, their eyes blinking but unable to speak, as if they’d suffered strokes. A physician was hurriedly summoned to treat them, and said: “They are in good health, but their immortal souls are being squeezed; at midnight they will be able to rise, and will not require medicine.” Indeed, when midnight came, the musicians awoke as if from sleep, and all were able to rise and stand. When the prefectural chief questioned them, the musicians all said: “We suffered deceit and followed Scholar Yang’s respectful summons; why is he not at the Prefectural Chief’s banquet?” The throng of guests marvelled at this, and questioned Scholar Yang, but he just smiled and refused to answer. They then realized that the dancers’ souls had been squeezed by Scholar Yang.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.85-86 (Tale 148):

掩魂妓樂

南海郡有楊氏,以居士自號,嘗謂人曰:「我有奇術。」郡太守好奇術,聞居士來,甚喜。每宴遊未嘗不首召居士。一日因須侍太守,太守會宴於郡齋,大閱妓樂,而居士不得預。時有數客亦皆不得預宴,因謂居士曰:「先生嘗自負有奇術,今日太守大宴,先生不得預,設一術以動之乎?」居士笑曰:「甚易耳。君試觀之,我能為君召太守處妓樂至此佐酒乎!」因命具酒,使諸客環列而坐。少頃,俄有數十婦人自西廊空室而出,裝飾華煥,各攜樂器而至,乃命奏樂,且歌且舞。客或訊其所自,皆笑而不言。至夜分,居士謂諸妓曰:「可歸矣。」於是皆入西廊下空室中去。諸 [86] 客相顧駭歎,皆疑其鬼物妖惑。至明日鬨傳曰:太守昨夕宴會,諸妓樂並皆仆地,瞬目不能言,以為卒中,急召醫人診候,醫曰:「無恙,但為人掩魂,夜分各能起,不必服藥。」果至中宵,諸妓如睡之醒,皆能起立。太守質問,諸妓皆云:「適蒙楊居士召祗應,須(「須」,疑為「頃」之誤。)緣何卻在太守筵中?」衆客為怪,詰之楊居士,居士笑而不答,方知諸妓為楊居士掩魂矣。

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).

A parallel tale is found in the tenth-century collection Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), and as usual this is substantially more detailed than our Huhai version:

Retired Scholar Yang 楊居士

In Hainan Prefecture there was a Scholar Yang. His given name has been forgotten. He referred to himself as Retired Scholar Yang, and often wandered around the various Nanhai prefectures, frequently lodging as a guest with other people, and it is not known where he stopped. He told people: “I have strange talents; you people are mediocre, and could never achieve such knowledge.” Afterwards he often visited the prefecture, meeting the prefectural chief, who was very inquisitive. On hearing that the scholar had arrived, he was delighted and rewarded him generously, ordering that he be brought drink. He never held a banquet without summoning the scholar, and the scholar became very conceited. One day, drunk, he offended the prefectural chief in a way the chief could not tolerate.

Later, there was a feast in the prefectural chamber, with a review of musicians and performers, but the scholar was not invited. There were several other guests who had not received summons from the prefectural chief, and they therefore spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman was once conceited about his hocus-pocus; your humble servant looked up to you for advice but you had no time for me. Meeting you one day like this is truly fortunate. Nonetheless, today we hear that the prefectural chief is holding a banquet in the prefectural chamber, but the gentleman has not been invited to join it. If the gentleman cannot change this through an act of magic, then he must not possess such strange arts.” The scholar laughed and said: “This is just the least of my skill. You gentlemen should watch me, and I will summon his dancers for you; we should bring out some drinks.” They all said they wished this to happen, so the scholar ordered that wine be brought and directed the guests to set out their mats in a circle and sit.

He next ordered a boy to close up a small chamber in the western wing. He left the door closed for a while before opening it, at which three or four beautiful people came down, decked out with a gorgeous magnificence, and came towards them bearing instruments. The scholar said: “How is your servant’s art now?” The guests all marveled at this and could not work out what was happening. He told them to sit down and indicated that the music be started. Some of the guests questioned him about his art, but he just smiled and would not answer. Eventually it grew dark and midnight came, at which the scholar told all the musicians: “You should now return.” At this they all rose and returned down through the empty western chamber. The guests looked at one another and exclaimed in admiration, but still suspected that it was a matter of demonic conjuring.

The next day, a clerk in the prefecture said: “The prefectural chief held a feast last night in the prefectural offices. [469] When the musicians were seated and arranged, they suddenly fell to the ground without explanation. In a moment, a violent storm arose, blowing away their instruments and disappearing. When midnight came, the players all awoke, and their instruments returned to their former places. When the prefectural chief questioned the musicians, they all said that it had gone dark and they had been unable to see anything. In the end they could not work out what had caused it, and the guests were all greatly shocked and therefore everyone talked about the matter. Someone told the prefectural chief, who gasped with astonishment and sent for him. He did not dare stay in the prefecture. This all took place at the beginning of the Kaicheng era (836-41 CE). This was taken from Xuanshi zhi 宣室志.[1]

楊居士

海南(明鈔本海南作南海。)郡有楊居士。亡其名。以居士自目。往往遊南海枝郡。常寄食於人。亦不知其所止。謂人曰。我有奇術。汝輩庸人。固不得而識矣。後常至郡。會太守好奇者。聞居士來。甚喜。且厚其禮。命飲之。每宴遊。未嘗不首召居士。居士亦以此自負。一日使酒忤太守。太守不能容。後又會宴於郡室。閱妓樂。而居士不得預。時有數客。亦不在太守召中。因謂居士曰。先生嘗自負有奇術。某向者仰望之不暇。一日遇先生於此。誠幸矣。雖然。今聞太守大宴客於郡齋。而先生不得預其間。即不能設一奇術以動之乎。必先生果無奇術耶。居士笑曰。此末術耳。君試觀我。我為君召其妓。可以佐酒。皆曰。願為之。居士因命具酒。使諸客環席而坐。又命小童閉西廡空室。久之乃啟之。有三四美人自廡下來。裝飾華煥。擕樂而至。居士曰。某之術何如。諸客人大異之。殆不可測。乃命列坐。奏樂且歌。客或訊其術。居士但笑而不答。時昏晦。至夜分。居士謂諸妓曰。可歸矣。于是皆起。入西廡下空室中。客相目駭歎。然尚疑其鬼物妖惑。明日。有郡中吏曰。太守昨夕宴郡閤。 [469] 妓樂列坐。無何皆仆地。瞬息暴風起。飄其樂器而去。迨至夜分。諸妓方寤。樂器亦歸于舊所。太守質問衆妓。皆云黑無所見。竟不窮其由。諸客皆大驚。因盡以事對。或告於太守。太守歎異。即謝而遣之。不敢留于郡中。時開成初也。出《宣室志》

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, 75.468-69

[1] This is a ten-juan collection by Zhang Du 張讀, who passed his civil service examination in 852 CE. See Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 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); Fletcher Coleman, ‘On the Role of Religion in Tang Tales: An Introduction to Zhang Du’s Xuanshi zhi’ (2013), Asian Languages & Civilizations Graduate Theses & Dissertations, 9 (https://scholar.colorado.edu/asia_gradetds/9, accessed 23/04/18).

A Dead Servant Sells Geese 死僕賣鵝

The Li household of Anqing Fu had a servant named Hu Baiwu, who had died several years ago. One day, setting off for the capital, Li saw someone in the street resembling him, at which he exclaimed and questioned the seller. He said: “Your humble servant is actually a ghost; not originally fated to die yet, my ethereal soul could not submit to authority, and has no option but to drift through the mortal world.” Questioned about the things he sold, he said: “These are items from this (mortal) world; every day I bring the travelling pedlar’s stall, and the money I use is also of this world.” Questioned as to his accommodation, he said: “At night I rest at the roadside, on a butcher’s board, where the guards on patrol don’t see me; those trading like this are very many, and are of course ghosts.”

It can therefore be seen that mixed among the floating population (huhai) are ghostly people; even grasping their fingers and pointing none would see this truly.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.240 (Tale 433):

死僕賣鵝

安慶府李家有僕胡百五,已死數年。一日如京,於街上見賣炙鵝者似之,呼而問。曰:「某實鬼也,本未當死,魂無歸附,未免混凡。」詰其所賣之物,曰:「即世間物,每日就鋪家行販來,所用之錢即世間錢也。」詰其止宿之地,曰:「夜則泊於街旁肉案上,巡更軍吏皆不得見,經紀買賣如某輩甚多,固鬼也。」 以是見湖海之內,人鬼混淆,持指示數人,皆不識耳。

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)