A Disobedient Horse in Jizhou 濟州逆馬

At the beginning of the Zhenghe era (1111-18), a horse belonging to a villager in Jizhou gave birth to a foal. After seven days, it was just as big as its mother. On its forehead was a single eye, with two eyeballs; its nose had a snout like that of a dragon. Around its snout and on its hooves were markings like those of a tiger. In colour it was bright red, and from both of its forelegs arose fleshy flames. One evening, it ate its own mother, leaving not the slightest trace of skin or bone, and escaped into the fields. The populace feared that it might cause trouble, so gathered several dozen people to pursue and kill it. A painter living nearby painted it to show people. This beast can indeed be numbered among the ungrateful children!

Hong Mai 洪邁, He Zhuo 何卓 (ed.), Yi Jian Zhi 夷堅志 (Record of Yi Jian) 4 volumes (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), iv, 丁, 7.592:

濟州逆馬

政和初,濟州村民家馬生駒,七日,大與母等,額上一目,中有二晴,鼻吻如龍,吻邊與蹄上斑文如虎,色正赤,兩膊皆起肉焰。一夕,食其母,皮骨無遺,逸出田間。民慮其為患,集數十人追殺之。近邸畫工圖其形以示人,蓋獸中梟獍也。

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Wu Yinzhi’s Integrity 吴隱之廉潔

Wu Yinzhi[1] served as Governor of Guangzhou. In ancient times there was a spring, and people who drank from it became corrupt and wanton; Yinzhi poured it, drank it, paid out double his land tax, and composed a poem:

The ancients said of this water,

That one sip addicted to riches.

If Yi and Qi[2] were to try it,

Their loyalties would never have changed

Moreover, he dwelt in mourning for his mother, showed exceptional etiquette and suffered poverty in his household, and having no choice but to wait until midnight, often hearing a pair of cranes calling in shock at midnight, Yinzhi would always rise and weep, never missing a single time.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.18 (Tale 91):

吴隱之廉潔

吴隱之為廣州刺史。舊有貪泉,人飲之則貪黷,隱之酌而飲之,兼賦詩曰:「古人云此水,一歃懐千金。試使夷齊飲,終當不易心。」又居母喪,過禮,家貧,無以候宵分,常有雙鶴至夜半驚唳,隱之起哭,不失其時。

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)

[1] On Wu Yinzhi 吴隱之, courtesy name Chumo 處默 (d.c. 413 CE), see https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%90%B4%E9%9A%90%E4%B9%8B.

[2] This refers to Bo Yi 伯夷 and Shu Qi 叔齊, famed for their selfless morality. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyi_and_Shuqi; http://chinaheritage.net/reader/reading/loyalty/sima-qian-%E5%8F%B8%E9%A6%AC%E9%81%B7-a-biography-of-boyi-and-shuqi-%E4%BC%AF%E5%A4%B7%E5%88%97%E5%82%B3/

A Dog-Headed Bride 狗頭新婦

When Jia Dan[1] was serving as commander of Huazhou, in Suanzao County there was a common woman who served a lady but showed her no respect. Because the lady was extremely old, and could see through neither of her eyes, when it came to her breakfast, the woman placed dog dung among the food and gave it to the lady. The lady having eaten this, her qi became abnormal. Her son having returned from travelling to distant parts, the lady asked her son: “What is this stuff? That woman gave it to me to eat.” Her son raised his face to heaven and gave a great howl. After a little while, [5] a lightning bolt came down, and it was as if someone had severed her head and replaced it with that of a dog. Jia ordered she be led into the county, and reported as one lacking filial respect. People at the time called her the ‘dog-headed bride’.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.4-5 (Tale 31):

狗頭新婦

賈耽為滑州節度,酸棗縣有俚婦事姑不敬,故年甚老,無雙目,旦食,婦以食裏納犬糞授姑。故食之,覺有異氣。其子出遠還,故問其子:「此何物?向者婦與吾食。」其子仰天大哭。有頃, [5] 雷電發,若有人截婦首,以犬續之。耽令牽行於境內,以告不孝者。時人謂之「狗頭新婦」。

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)

[1] Jia Dan 賈耽, courtesy name Dunshi 敦詩, 730-805 CE, a geographer and prime minister under the Tang. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jia_Dan.

An Immortal Treats Reversed Hands 仙醫反掌

In the market of Huofu, in Wanzai County, there was a beggar surnamed Guo, whose left hand and both feet were all twisted upwards. This only allowed him to scrape along the ground leaning on a staff held in his right hand, so people called him ‘Scrape Guo’. His mother was elderly and suffered from arthritis; his younger brother suffered in the same way. Scrape went out to beg on the first and fifteenth day of each month. The people of the market all felt sympathy for him and treated him generously, so he was able to support both mother and brother, gathering a month’s worth of provisions, and he went on like this for eighteen years without resentment. In the winter of the second year Yuanzhen (1296), he encountered a Daoist who, seeing his extreme poverty, and his voluntary support for mother and younger brother, he then took five balls of medicine and gave them to Scrape, saying: “If you take my medicine, your long-standing trouble will immediately be resolved.” Scrape took them as instructed, and his hand and feet were then as normal. Not having expected such healing of his illness, he no longer had a reason for his begging, and people were no longer generous to him. Just as he found himself in dire need, he again encountered the same Daoist. Scrape thanked him, and entreated him, saying: “When I received the kind grant of medicine, I happened to forget that my mother is ill; not having shared it with her, my mother now remains [146] ill.” The Daoist gave him five more medicine balls; his mother took two balls, and it was as if her illness had vanished. He still had three balls, and this came to the attention of a wealthy person living near the village who suffered from the same condition. The rich person spoke to Scrape: “It is said you have three pellets of a wonder drug; I will buy these from you for one ingot’s worth of paper money.” Scrape replied that he did not want to accept money, but did want to relieve his condition, and, if he could supply the needs of their three mouths for life, he would happily give him the medicine. Afterwards, when the effect had been demonstrated, the wealthy person kept his word and supported them.

It can only be that Scrape Guo’s single-minded filial piety led him to encounter this immortal and benefit from boundless good fortune. Why, if a beggar can devote himself in this way, others should certainly examine their own conduct.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.145-46 (Tale 255):

仙醫反掌

萬載縣獲賦市,有丐者姓郭,左手及兩足皆反掌於上,止得右手拄地擦行,人遂名以「郭擦」。母老病風,弟病亦然。擦每月朔望出丐,一市人皆憐而惠之,遂得養母及弟,僅得一月之食,如此者十八年無怨。元貞二年冬,遇一道人,見其貧苦,又甘心養母與弟,遂與藥五丸與擦,云:「汝服吾藥,宿疾頓可。」擦如教服之,手足隨即如常。不料疾愈,無可託辭以丐,而人亦無惠之者。方窘急間,又遇元道人。擦謝之,且祈之云:「向蒙惠藥,偶忘母疾,未曾分與,今母尚 [146] 病。」道人再以五丸與之,其母服兩丸,其疾如失。尚餘三丸,適為里近富人所知,其病亦同,富人與擦云:「聞汝有妙藥三丸,以鈔一錠與汝回贖。」擦應言不願受鈔,願病安,三口乞終身供給,遂以藥授之。後果效,富人守信供給之,得非郭擦一念孝悌,獲遇神仙以受無窮之福。吁!丐者而處心如此,人亦可以自反矣。

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 Frog Becomes A Spirit 蝦蟆為精

Wei Heshan was receiving guests, and was with a Mr Shi in the official hostel. After three rounds of toasts, Heshan went in. Then two servant girls emerged, each holding a candle, and said: “The Grand Councillor invites Professor [261] Shi.” Mr Shi went in after them, and the other guests all marvelled at this. Shortly after, Heshan emerged and asked: “Where did Mr Shi go?” The crowd said: “He followed two maids sent to invite him in.” Heshan was alarmed, and asked: “Where are they?” He then ordered his retinue to go and search everywhere. They suddenly heard a human voice coming from the pond, and hurriedly kindled a fire to illuminate it. They found Mr Shi, jumping into the water and already half submerged. The gathered people helped him up and used the cooking fire to warm and revive him. When they asked him why, he said: “Following the two maids’ invitation I arrived below a great building, and entering the central hall found a person dressed in green robes seated in the middle, who indicated a young woman and said: ‘It is ordered that you take her to wife; the rites will be completed this night.’ The gathering then swarmed around us as we entered the bedchamber. Your servant said: ‘My elderly mother still lives; she has not been consulted. Not right! Not right!’ I had no idea that we were in the water.” The next day, Heshan ordered people to drain the pond and inside it they found a frog as big as a grain scoop, with only four or five small frogs. Some suspected that this was a frog spirit.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.260-61 (Tale 473):

蝦蟆為精

魏鶴山會客,館中史先生與焉。酒三行,鶴山入內,忽有兩丫鬟秉二燭出,云:「參政請史教 [261] 授。」史君相隨而入,諸客怪之。少頃,鶴山出問:「史先生安往?」衆曰:「適先生令二婢請入內矣。」鶴山驚曰:「安有此?」於是令左右遍去搜尋,忽聞塘中人聲,急舉火照之,則史先生已半身投水矣。衆扶掖上,用火炙蘇,問其故,則曰:「適二丫鬟請到一大屋下,入中堂,有一人身綠衣坐於中,指一小女云: 『令與汝為妻,今夕成禮。』衆遂簇擁入房。某曰:『有老母在,未曾報覆,不可!不可!』不知身在水中。」次日,鶴山令人幹塘,內有蝦蟆一隻,大如斗,小蝦蟆四五而已。或者疑其為蝦蟆精也。

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).

 

A Household God Brings Property 家神送物

The family of Zhang Shuiyuan, of Yongfeng Stone Well in Xinzhou, served their household god with great reverence. The [lacuna] household god was an ancestor. The [lacuna] household had very little property, and later, due to the exhaustion of their property, the family prayed from dawn to dusk, hoping for assistance from the nether world. One day, when dusk was approaching, an old woman was seen walking straight in, carrying a bamboo box which she placed on a table in the ancestral hall. The family rushed out to meet her, but she was nowhere to be seen. When they looked at the portrait of a female ancestor in the ancestral hall, however, there was a close resemblance; the family were astonished and confused, and hesitated to look at the box. After a night had passed they finally opened and examined it, and all the contents were items of silver and gold. The Zhangs sold this and managed their property, and from this initial wealth became an important lineage. The old woman was their ancestress.

Among these ancestral spirits there are none who do not watch over their descendants from the nether world, cherishing people who live in ignorance, instead revering and praying to lascivious demons from dawn to dusk, calling them deities and divinities. When other people pray for their ancestors, this can be called auspicious and prosperous. If one pays no heed to one’s ancestors, failing to observe the seasonal offerings, not revering the tombs, even when there are descendants, how does this differ to the extinction of a lineage? If people can shift their reverence from lascivious demons to respectful service of their ancestors, it would not only be the Zhangs who receive protection and reward, and the deities of heaven and earth too would extend their generosity and protection.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.219 (Tale 389):

家神送物

信州永豐石井張稅院者,家事家神甚謹。[ ]家神者,祖先也。[ ]薄有貲產,後因破蕩,家人朝夕禱之,以冀陰相。一日將暮,忽見一嫗攜一小竹合子直入,置家堂中几案上,急出迎之,亦不見矣。但瞻家堂中所畫先世祖婆者如之,家人疑異,留不啟視。經宿啟視,皆黃白之物。張鬻之治產,(「產」,明刻本作 「生」。)因此貲產甲於〔一〕(據明刻本補。)族。蓋嫗者,祖婆也。夫祖宗英靈毋有不陰相子孫,惜人未之知,但朝夕奉祀淫鬼,指為神明。為他人祀祖宗,謂可徼福,反以本生祖宗置之度外,歲時不祭,墳墓不登,雖有子孫,絕嗣何異?儻能移祀淫鬼之心敬事祖宗,非惟如張氏之獲報,而天地神明亦加垂佑焉。

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).

Envy Drowns Sons and Grandsons 妒溺子孫

Li Zhengzou had a daughter-in-law from the Zhao family, who was extremely fierce. She had a son, but on reaching the age of seven he lacked intelligence and Li was extremely disappointed. His son had four concubines, all of whom became pregnant, and the old man said: “Even if I have ten grandchildren, educate them, do not drown them.” When Zhao heard this she became extremely resentful. Waiting until the old man and her husband left, Zhao called for the concubines and rebuked them, asking who had made them pregnant. The concubines said: “The old master.” Zhao said: “If you say that the master got you pregnant, you will be given a heavy flogging and married out to live among the distant wastes, going without money or clothing. If you say that it was a servant, you will then be spared a beating, you will be married out in a good place, and receive generous gifts.” The concubines were afraid and falsely identified this and that person among the servants. When the old man returned with her husbands, Zhao went straight up and reported this. The old man was unable to investigate, so took them at their word and dismissed them. The four servants were all reprimanded, and he urged the concubines to marry and give birth after, and then not to rear those children. The concubines followed these words, and drowned them. Not many years later, Li died early, and his grandsons also died young. When the lady Zhao died she went without inner and outer coffins, and was almost exposed in the grave. The Li household was affected by the lady Zhao’s jealousy to the point of childlessness, alas! An intelligent woman would never act in such a manner.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.101 (Tale 173):

妒溺子孫

李正奏子婦趙氏,極悍。得一子,至七歲不慧,李甚不滿。子有四妾皆孕,翁曰:「若有十孫,育之不溺。(「溺」原作「潛」據元刻本改。)」趙聞之憤甚。伺翁與夫俱出,趙呼妾責之,問其所孕。妾曰:「主人翁也。」趙曰:「爾謂主孕,必痛撻汝,遠嫁荒惡,行無資裝。若指為僕所有,仍免痛撻,汝(「汝」,元刻本作「且」。)適好處,厚有所贈。」妾懼而妄指為僕某人、某人所有。及翁與夫歸,趙直以告。翁不能察,遂信其說,屏之。四僕俱斥,且囑其妾,嫁後有子,毋育此子。妾從其言,溺之。不數年,李先亡,孫亦早喪,趙氏死無棺槨,幾至暴露。李氏一門,為趙氏妒孕而致絕嗣,哀哉!有識之婦,幸毋倣此可也。

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).