Sima Yi 司馬義

The Palace Guard official Sima Yi had a concubine named Biyu, who was skilled at playing and singing. During the Taiyuan era (376-96 CE), Yi developed a fatal illness, and told Biyu: “When I die, you must not marry another, or it would be your death.” She replied: “I sincerely uphold your order.” After his funeral, a neighbouring household wished to take her in marriage. Biyu was about to depart, when she saw Yi entering the gate on horseback. He drew his bow and shot her, catching her straight in the throat. Her throat then became extremely painful, her posture became very strange, and all of a sudden she died. After more than ten days, however, she revived, although remained unable to speak. All four of her limbs seemed as though they had been beaten. After a full year she was again able to speak, but still could not make herself clear. Biyu was no longer beautiful, and her voice had been taken away. She had already suffered catastrophe, and was indeed unable to marry.

From Zhenyilu.

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, 321.2545:

司馬義

金吾司馬義妾碧玉。善絃歌。義以太元中病篤。謂碧玉曰。吾死。汝不得別嫁。當殺汝。曰。謹奉命。葬後。其鄰家欲娶之。碧玉當去。見義乘馬入門。引弓射之。正中其喉。喉便痛極。姿態失常。奄忽便絕。十餘日乃甦。不能語。四肢如被撾損。周歲始能言。猶不分明。碧玉色甚不美。本以聲見取。既被患。遂不得嫁。出甄異錄

Zhang Zichang 張子長

During the Jin era (265-420 CE), Li Zhongwen, prefectural chief of Wudu, was in the prefecture when he lost his daughter, aged eighteen, and buried her temporarily north of the prefectural walls. There was a man named Zhang Shi who temporarily took over from him as prefectural chief, and Shi’s son, courtesy name Zichang, was twenty years old, and served in his retinue at the government office. He dreamed of a girl, aged seventeen or eighteen, of unusual beauty, who told him she was the daughter of the former prefectural chief. She had died tragically young, but now there was an opportunity to be resurrected, and as their hearts had found love, she had come and manifested to him. This continued over five or six evenings.

Suddenly, she appeared in the daytime, her clothing and fragrance rare and distinguished, and they became man and wife. When they lay down her clothing was all marked, as if she were a virgin. Later, Zhongwen sent a maid to inspect his daughter’s tomb, and she therefore stopped to call on Shizhi’s wife. On entering the government office, she caught sight of one of the girl’s shoes beneath Zichang’s bed. Grasping it she wept and called out that the tomb had been opened, taking the shoe back with her. When she showed Zhongwen, he was stunned, and sent people to ask Shizhi: “How can the gentleman’s son have obtained a dead girl’s shoe?” When Shizhi summoned and questioned him, his son explained the whole matter. Li and Zhang both said this must be a supernatural occurrence. When they opened the coffin and looked, her body already looked like fresh meat, but her countenance was just as it had been. She only had a shoe in her right foot. Zichang saw the girl in a dream, and she told him: “I had recently attained life, but now my place of rest has been disturbed, and from now on my dead flesh will decay and I will not achieve life. My heart contains ten thousand regrets; I can no longer speak.” Sobbing, she departed.

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, 319.2524:

張子長

晉時。武都太守李仲文。在郡喪女。年十八。權假葬郡城北。有張世之代為郡。世之男字子長。年二十。侍從在廨中。夢一女。年可十七八。顏色不常。自言前府君女。不幸早亡。會今當更生。心相愛樂。故來相見就。如此五六夕。忽然晝見。衣服薰香殊絕。遂為夫妻。寢息衣皆有洿。如處女焉。後仲文遣婢視女墓。因過世之婦相問。入廨中。見此女一隻履。在子長牀下。取之啼泣。呼言發冢。持履歸。此以示仲文。仲文驚愕。遣問世之。君兒何由得亡女履耶。世之呼問。兒具陳本末。李張並謂可怪。發棺視之。女體已生肉。顏姿如故。唯右腳有履。子長夢女曰。我比得生。今為所發。自爾之後。遂死肉爛。不得生矣。萬恨之心。當復何言。泣涕而別。出法苑珠林

Wang Gongbo 王恭伯

Wang Gongbo, courtesy name Zisheng, who lived under the Jin (265-420 CE) and came from Guiji, was elegant in appearance and skilled at playing the zither. While serving the Crown Prince as Palace Secretary, he requested leave to rest in Wu. On reaching the courier’s lodge at the Changmen Gate,[1] he gazed at the moon and played his zither. Presently a woman appeared, with a girl following her, who addressed Gongbo: “Your servant has always loved the zither, and would like to play it with you.” In appearance she was extremely beautiful. Gongbo stayed the night with her, and took his leave a little before daybreak, receiving presents of a padded brocade sachet of fragrance and a jade hairpin. Gongbo then gave her another jade hairpin as a parting gift.

Soon after, when the sun rose, he heard that the daughter of Liu Huiji, Magistrate of Wu County, had died on a nearby boat, and that a jade hairpin and spice sachet had gone missing from before her funeral tablet. Soon [2520] after, government clerks searched through the neighbouring boats. When they arrived at Gongbo’s vessel they seized him. Gongbo was scared, and related the whole story, telling them: “I gave her a jade hairpin, too.” Huiji ordered that this be investigated, and they did indeed find this in the dead girl’s hair. Huiji broke down and wept, calling out to Gongbo with the courtesy due a son-in-law. His daughter had been called Zhihua, and she had died at age sixteen.

From Xingzicaishanhebieji.

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, 318.2519-20:

王恭伯

晉世王恭伯。字子升。會稽人。美姿容。善鼓琴。為東宮舍人。求假休吳。到閶門郵亭。望月鼓琴。俄有一女子。從一女。謂恭伯曰。妾平生愛琴。願共撫之。其姿質甚麗。恭伯留之宿。向曉而別。以錦褥香囊為訣。恭伯以玉簪贈行。俄而天曉。聞鄰船有吳縣令劉惠基亡女。靈前失錦褥及香囊。斯 [2520] 須。有官吏遍搜鄰船。至恭伯船。獲之。恭伯懼。因述其〈明鈔本述其作還之。〉言。我亦贈其玉簪。惠基令檢。果於亡女頭上獲之。惠基乃慟哭。因呼恭伯以子壻之禮。其女名稚華。年十六而卒。出刑子才山河別記


[1] This may refer to the famous west gate of Suzhou 蘇州 or the western gate in Yangzhou 揚州.

Zhong Yao 鍾繇

Zhong Yao (151-230 CE) suddenly stopped attending the morning court, and his mood and character were quite different to what people had become used to. When a fellow official asked him why this was, he responded: “A woman often comes to me; she has a beauty that is not of the mortal world.” His colleague replied: “This must be a ghost. You should kill it; afterwards it will stay away from your home.” He asked: “How could I intend to slaughter something possessing such a form?” Yuanchang replied: “There is no such problem.” In the end he eagerly called her to him, but could not bear to carry out the plan, so only lightly wounded her. She left immediately, staunching the blood with fresh silk floss, which was scattered along her route. The following day, he sent people to follow these traces. They came to a great tomb. In a coffin lay a woman, her body appearing still to be alive. Wearing a white silk gown and a cinnabar-embroidered waistcoat, there was a wound on one of her thighs, and the waistcoat showed signs of her having wiped away blood. From then the visits ceased.

From Youminglu.

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, 317.2509:

鍾繇

鍾繇忽不復朝會。意性有異於常。寮友問其故。云。常有婦人來。美麗非凡間者。曰。必是鬼物。可殺之。後來止戶外。曰。何以有相殺意。元常曰。無此。慇懃呼入。意亦有不忍。乃微傷之。便出去。以新綿拭血。竟路。明日。使人尋跡。至一大冢。棺中一婦人。形體如生。白練衫。丹繡裲襠。傷一髀。以裲襠中綿拭血。自此便絕。出幽明錄

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:

吳祥

漢諸暨縣吏吳祥者。憚役委頓。將投竄深山。行至一溪。日欲暮。見年少女子。彩衣甚美。云。我一身獨居。又無鄉里。唯有一孤嫗。相去十餘步耳。祥聞甚悅。便即隨去。行一里餘。即至女家。家甚貧陋。為祥設食。至一更竟。聞一嫗喚云。張姑子。女應曰。諾。祥問是誰。答云。向所道孤嫗也。二人共寢至曉。雞鳴祥去。二情相戀。女以紫巾贈祥。祥以布手巾報。行至昨夜所遇處。過溪。其夜水暴溢。深不可涉。乃回向女家。都不見昨處。但有一冢耳。出法苑珠林

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:

鄔濤

鄔濤者。汝南人。精習墳典。好道術。旅泊婺州義烏縣館。月餘。忽有一女子。侍二婢夜至。一婢進曰。此王氏小娘子也。今夕顧降於君。濤視之。乃絕色也。謂是豪貴之女。不敢答。王氏笑曰。秀才不以酒色於懷。妾何以奉託。濤乃起拜曰。凡陋之士。非敢是望。王氏令侍婢施服翫於濤寢室。炳以銀燭。又備酒食。飲數巡。王氏起謂濤曰。妾少孤無託。今願事君子枕席。將為可乎。濤遜辭而許。恩意欵洽。而王氏曉去夕至。如此數月。濤所知道士楊景霄至舘訪之。見濤色有異。曰。公為鬼魅所惑。宜斷之。不然死矣。濤聞之驚。以其事具告。景霄曰。此乃鬼也。乃與符二道。一施衣帶。一置門上。曰。此鬼來。當有怨恨。慎勿與語。濤依法受之。女子是夕至。見符門上。大罵而去。曰。來日速除之。不然生禍。濤明日訪景霄。具言之。景霄曰。今夜再來。可以吾呪水洒之。此必絕矣。濤持水歸。至夜。女子復至。悲恚之甚。濤乃以景霄呪水洒之。於是遂絕。出集異記

A Wudu Woman 武都女

In Wudu there was a man who transformed into a woman, beautiful and elegant. This woman was an elemental.[1] The prince of Shu accepted her as a concubine, but she was not accustomed to the climate, so wished to leave. Her host, wishing to keep her, played songs from Dongping to cheer her up. Before long, however, she had passed away. The prince mourned her, and sent five strong fellows to Wudu, picking up earth to make a grave mound for his concubine. The earth mound covered several mu (a mu equals 6.67 acres), and rose seven zhang in height (about 25m), and upon it there was a stone mirror. Today this is Wudan, at the north edge of Chengdu.

From Huayangguozhi.

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, 359.2839:

武都女

武都有一丈夫。化為女子。美而豔。蓋女〈明鈔本女作山〉精也。蜀王納為妃。不習水土。欲去。主留之。乃為東平之歌以樂之。無幾物故。王哀之。乃遣五丁之武都。擔土為妃作塚。蓋地數畝。高七丈。上有石鏡。今成都北角〈角原作商。據明鈔本改。〉武擔是也。出華陽國志

[1] The character used here is jing 精, which carries a wide range of meanings, including ‘spirit’, ‘goblin’ and ‘demon’. Possibly overstating a distinction between gui 鬼 and jing, I had originally opted for ’demon’ here, but reconsidered this after the ever-helpful Ofer Waldman suggested that ‘spirit’ was less likely to be confused with the yao 妖 ‘demon’ of the chapter heading. After consulting Schafer’s translation of the Taiping guangji table of contents, I have decided (with reservations) to follow his ‘elemental’ reading for jing 精, in order to avoid involving a connotation of evil to the character. See Edward Schafer, ‘The Table of Contents of the “T’ai p’ing kuang chi”,’ CLEAR 2 (1980), 258-63 (262).

Zhang Yuan 張瑗

The Jiangnan eunuch Zhang Yuan was crossing the New Bridge at Jiankang when he suddenly saw a beautiful woman hurrying along with her robe gaping open. Tuan was extremely surprised and regarded her closely, but the woman then turned her head, transformed into a whirlwind and attacked Yuan. Yuan’s horse was knocked over, injuring his face. He returned a little over a month later. At first his horse reared, and then it lifted a hoof and had to return lame. From then on whenever he crossed that bridge his horse would always limp and lift a hoof. In the end there were no other strange events.

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, 353.2799:

張瑗

江南內臣張瑗日暮過建康新橋。忽見一美人。袒衣猖獗而走。瑗甚訝。諦視之。婦人忽爾廻頭。化為旋風撲瑗。瑗馬倒傷面。月餘乃復。初馬既起。乃提一足。跛行而歸。自是每過此橋。馬輒提一足而行。竟無他怪。出稽神錄

Zhang Fei’s Temple Attendant 張飛廟祝

A little over ten li outside the walls of Zizhou lies a temple to Zhang Fei (d. 221 CE). Within it a clay idol stands guard. One night it stirred the emotions of a temple attendant’s wife and, after a year had passed, she bore a daughter, her hair like vermillion and her eyebrows, eyes, hands and feet all just like those of the idol in shape. When she reached adulthood, all of the people feared her. Every official posted to Zizhou would always visit the temple and call her out to see her, some of these leaving gifts of money and silks. She remains there even today.

From Yerenxianhua.

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, 353.2798:

張飛廟祝

梓州去城十餘里。有張飛廟。廟中有土偶。為衛士。一夕感廟祝之妻。經年。遂生一女。其髮如朱。眉目手足。皆如土偶之狀。至於長大。人皆畏之。凡蒞職梓州者。謁廟。則呼出驗之。或遺之錢帛。至今猶存。出野人閒話

Shao Yuanxiu 邵元休

During the Tianfu era (901-4), the Han Councillor to the Bureau of the Left Shao Yuanxiu, who was not yet twenty years old, lived in a government residence in Yanzhou. In the house there was only a midwife and a maidservant. At the southernmost end of the wing running west from the hall was a study. When night fell the whole household extinguished the lamps and slept soundly. The lamp in the study was also extinguished, and Shao rested his head on a volume and dozed, but heard, coming from the west of the hall, soft light sounds, like a woman’s footsteps. They ascended the hall stairs, and arrived first at the eastern wing, where the rooms of the female servants lay. Pausing whenever they passed a door, he then heard them continue and reach the south wing. There stood an unbolted door to the chamber, and it pulled open the door and entered. Next he heard a great crash, as if of porcelain thrown to shatter on the floor. Xi then entered the study. Outside the window the moon showed new and thin. He saw something. It seemed extremely large, he could not discern its face, but it was six or seven chi in height (i.e., two metres or more), seeming to have its head swathed in deep black silk, and it stood below the door. Shao, unafraid, rebuked it in a stern voice, and shouted at it several times. It did not make the slightest attempt to respond, but departed, moving like the wind. Shao wanted to pick up his pillow and strike it, but it was already gone. He heard it again, moving to the west of the hall, but the sounds then ceased. When dawn broke, he made a careful examination of the objects inside the southern room, finding, laid on the tea couch, white porcelain that had been smashed against the ground. When he subsequently questioned people about the matter he was told: “A military commissioner frequently stays at this residence. When his daughter died, he used the western hall as a chapel of rest for a time, and she still visits her servants.” There was a near neighbour who had known the girl, and said: “She was very tall in stature; that must have been her mortal soul.”

From Yutang xianhua.

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, 353.2794:

邵元休

漢左司員外郎邵元休。當天復年中。尚未冠。居兗州廨宅。宅內惟乳母婢僕。堂之西序。最南是書齋。時夜向分。舉家滅燭熟寐。書齋內燈亦滅。邵枕書假寐。聞堂之西。窸窣若婦人履聲。經于堂階。先至東序。皆女僕之寢室也。每至一房門。即住少時。遂聞至南廊。有閣子門。不扃鍵。乃推門而入。即聞轟然。若撲破磁器聲。遂西入書齋。窓外微月。見一物。形狀極偉。不辨其面目。長六七尺。如以青黑帛懞首而入。立于門扉之下。邵不懼。厲聲叱之。仍間數聲。都不酬答。遂却出。其勢如風。邵欲捫枕擊之。則已去矣。又聞行往堂西。其聲遂絕。遲明。驗其南房內。則茶牀之上。一白磁器。已墜地破矣。後問人云。常有兵馬留後居是宅。女卒。權於堂西作殯宮。仍訪左右。有近鄰識其女者。云。體貌頗長。蓋其魄也。出玉堂閒話