Liu Juan 劉雋

At the beginning of the Yuanjia era (424-53 CE), the Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary Liu Juan, whose home was in Danyang, once encountered a sudden shower of rain.[1] Before his gate he saw three small boys, all perhaps six or seven sui (five to six years old), joking around together, their faces not, however, getting damp. Presently, he saw them tussle over a large gourd pot. Juan took up a pebble and threw, hitting the pot squarely. The boys suddenly vanished, so Juan took up the pot and hung it by his office. The following day, a woman entered his gate, picked up the pot, and started to weep. When Juan asked her why, she replied: “This belonged to my son. I don’t know how it got here.” Juan told her what had happened, and the woman took the pot and buried it before her son’s grave. After a day had passed, another small boy arrived carrying it before the gate. Lifting the pot, he smiled at Juan and said: “My pot has been returned to me!” As soon it had finished speaking it disappeared.

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, 324.2571:

劉雋

元嘉初。散騎常侍劉雋。家在丹陽。後嘗遇驟雨。見門前有三小兒。皆可六七歲。相率狡獪。面並不沾濡。俄見共爭一匏壺子。雋引彈彈之。正中壺。霍然不見。雋得壺。因掛閣邊。明日。有一婦人入門。執壺而泣。雋問之。對曰。此是吾兒物。不知何由在此。雋具語所以。婦持壺埋兒墓前。間一日。又見向小兒持來門側。舉之。笑語雋曰。阿儂已復得壺矣。言終而隱。出幽明錄


[1] On the rank of Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary (sanjichangshi 散騎常侍), see Hucker, Dictionary, p. 395.

Zhu Huichi 竺惠熾

[2569] The śramaṇa Buddhist monk Zhu Huichi, who lived in the Siceng Monastery in Jiangling, died in the second year of the Yongchu era (421 CE). Seven days later, the disciples all gathered and stepped outside the monastery, leaving behind only one monk, Ming Dao, who had previously fallen ill. Suddenly Ming saw Huichi, who told him: “Previously, in life, I was unable to abstain from meat-eating. Now I am fallen to the starving dog hell, to make me understand the consequences.”

From Yiyuan.

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, 324.2568-69:

竺惠熾

[2569] 沙門竺惠熾。住江陵四層佛寺。以永初二年卒。葬後。弟子七日會。舉寺悉出。唯僧明道先患病。獨停。忽見惠熾。謂明曰。我生不能斷肉。今落餓狗地獄。令知有報。出異苑

Dai Chengbo 戴承伯

During the Yuanhui era (473-77 CE), Dai Chengbo of the [Liu] Song bought into the Pipa Temple under the jurisdiction of Xingzhou. His inscribed tablet erroneously claimed an empty plot to the east as his residence. At nightfall he suddenly heard the sound of angry cursing and, getting up to look, saw a person of remarkably odd shape. When Chengbo questioned him, he replied: “My surname is Xi, and I’m the one who originally dwelled here. How can the gentleman wrest it away from me?” Chengbo said: “Dai Jin sold the land; I do not deserve blame.” The spirit replied: “Benefitting self, harming others; what has this to do with Jin? If you do not leave quickly, I will have to inform the Magistrates.” On finishing speaking, it vanished. Chengbo was stubborn by nature, and refused to move for it. Within ten days, he had succumbed to a sudden illness and died.

From Zhugongjiushi.

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, 323.2566:

戴承伯 宋戴承伯。元徽中。買荊州治下枇杷寺。其額乃悞東空地為宅。日暮。忽聞恚罵之聲。起視。有人形狀可怪。承伯問之。答曰。我姓龔。本居此宅。君為何強奪。承伯曰。戴瑾賣地。不應見咎。鬼曰。利身妨物。何預瑾乎。不速去。當令君知。言訖而沒。承伯性剛。不為之動。旬日。暴疾卒。出渚宮舊事

Zhu Tai 朱泰

Zhu Tai’s home was in Jiangling. During the [Liu] Song Yuanhui era (473-77 CE), he fell ill and died, but before he could be buried he manifested and took visible form. Returning to sit beside his corpse, he comforted his mother, and the gathered throng all saw him. Indicating the items laid out to accompany him to the grave, a matter in which he followed a frugal ideal, he asked his mother: “Our family is relatively poor, and now Tai has died, and can no longer offer support. How can so much be expended on a burial?”

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, 323.2565:

朱泰

朱泰家在江陵。宋元徽中。病亡未殯。忽形見。還坐尸側。慰勉其母。衆皆見之。指揮送終之具。務從儉約。謂母曰。家比貧。泰又亡歿。永違侍養。殯殮何可廣費。出述異記

Wang Hu 王胡

Wang Hu lived under [Liu] Song rule (420-79 CE), and was from Chang’an. His paternal uncle had been dead some years when, in the twenty-third year of the Yuanjia era (446 CE), he suddenly reappeared and returned to the family home. He demanded Hu improve his conduct, in which there were defects, family affairs having been neglected. He punished Hu with five strokes of the cane. Passersby people in the neighbourhood heard both their conversation and the noise of the beating. They could also see the welts left by the cane, but could not see the manifestation, which appeared only to Hu himself. His uncle told Hu: “I did not deserve death. The tomb passage waits for my number to appear on the register of spirits. Today there will be a great gathering of officials and troops, and I fear that the village may come to harm, so I do not set out.” Hu could also make out a crowd of spirits in noise and disorder beyond the village boundary.

Presently his uncle said goodbye and departed, telling him: “I will come on the seventh day of the seventh month. This will be short visit, and I wish to take you along the roads of the nether world, to make you understand the consequences of virtue and of evil. There is no need to be extravagant in laying out offerings; tea and cakes will suffice.”

When the day came, he did indeed return. He told Hu’s family: “I’m now taking Hu to see the sights. When the trip is complete he will return. There is no reason for alarm.” Hu then felt tired and laid on his bed, then became quite still, as if he were quite dead. His uncle then took Hu deep into the mountain ranges, where they observed the various spirits and demons. Finally, they reached the highest peaks, and the various spirits spoke to Hu, and also laid out food. The produce and flavours were not so different from those in the world of the living, but the ginger was especially fresh and delicious. Hu yearned for this, and was about to return when those around him laughed and told him: “You should stay and eat this. You won’t get far anyway.”

Hu saw a further place, a vast and beautiful building, with gorgeous canopies and elegant bamboo mats. There were [2565] two young monks living in it, and when Hu arrived they laid out a great spread of fruit, betel nuts and other produce. Hu spent a long time travelling, and saw all the conequences of virtue and vice, both sweet and bitter. He then said his farewells to return, and his uncle told him: “You now understand the need to cultivate virtue. When you return home seek the white-foot āranya temple; these people are ascetics of the highest order, and you should afford them respect as your teachers.” These priests of Chang’an had white feet, and so were known to people at that time as the white-foot āranya.[1] They were shown great respect by Wei Lu, with Prince Lu revering them as his teachers.[2]

Hu followed these instructions, travelling to study at Gaoshan with a young monk. Amid the crowds, however, he suddenly caught sight of those two monks. Hu was greatly shocked, and went to speak to them, asking when they had arrived. The two monks replied: “We poor clerics belong to this very temple. We are not aware of any prior acquaintance with the gentleman.” Hu again described their meeting in the high mountains, but the assembled monks told him: “The gentleman is simply mistaken. How could that have taken place?” When the next day dawned, however, the two monks had departed without saying farewell. Hu thus informed the gathered Buddhist monks about the whole matter, and his meeting with the two monks on Gaoshan. The crowd were all astonished, and sent people to seek the pair of monks, but their location remains unknown.

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, 323.2564-65:

王胡

宋王胡者。長安人也。叔死數載。元嘉二十三年。忽形見還家。責胡以修謹有缺。家事不理。罰胡五杖。傍人及鄰里。並聞其語及杖聲。又見杖瘢。而不見其形。唯胡獨得親接。叔謂胡曰。吾不應死。神道須吾筭諸鬼錄。今大從吏兵。恐驚損鄉里。故不將進耳。胡亦大見衆鬼紛鬧于村外。俄而辭去曰。吾來年七月七日。當復暫還。欲將汝行。遊歷幽途。使知罪福之報也。不須費設。若意不已。止可茶食耳。至期果還。語胡家人云。吾今將胡遊觀。觀畢當還。不足憂也。胡即頓臥牀上。泯然如盡。叔於是將胡遍觀群山。備觀鬼怪。末至嵩高山。諸鬼道胡。並有饌設。其品味不異世中。唯姜甚脆美。胡懷之將還。左右人笑云。止可此食。不得將遠也。胡又見一處。屋宇華曠。帳筵精美。有 [2565] 二少僧居焉。胡造之。二僧為設雜果梹榔等。胡遊歷久之。備見罪福苦樂之報。及辭歸。叔謂曰。汝即已知善之當修。返家尋白足阿練。此人戒行精高。可師事也。長安道人足白。故時人謂為白足阿練也。甚為魏虜所敬。虜王事為師。胡即奉此訓。遂與嵩山上年少僧者遊學。衆中忽見二僧。胡大驚。與敘乖闊。問何時來此。二僧云。貧道本住此寺。往日不意與君相識。胡復說嵩高之遇。衆僧云。君謬耳。豈有此耶。至明日。二僧不辭而去。胡乃具告諸沙門。敘說往日嵩山所見。衆咸驚怪。即追求二僧。不知所在。


[1] Sanskrit Āranya (hermitage, monastery) is transliterated in Chinese here as Alian 阿練, and elsewhere as Lanre/lanruo 蘭若 or Elianre/Alianruo 阿練若.

[2] This Wei Lu 魏虜 is not yet identified. Needs more work!

Shen Jizhi 沈寂之

Shen Jizhi was from Wuxing. During the Yuanjia era (424-53 CE), a spirit spoke and laughed at him suddenly out of the empty air, then continued to manifest, sometimes singing and sometimes weeping, and become especially exuberant at nighttime. Jizhi had a hearse, and the spirit pulled its traces alongside him and damaged it. Jizhi also had a great knife, which it hid in a deep pot. There was a large mirror, and that too was picked up and placed in a vessel.

From Yiyuan.

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, 323.2564:

沈寂之

吳興沈寂之。以元嘉中。忽有鬼于空中語笑。或歌或哭。至夜偏盛。寂之有靈車。鬼共牽走。車為壞。寂之有長刀。乃以置甕中。有大鏡。亦攝以納器中。出異苑

Xu Daorao 徐道饒

In the tenth year of the Yuanjia era (433 CE), Xu Daorao suddenly saw a spirit, which told him it was one of his ancestors. At that time it was winter, and the weather was fine and clear. He had previously gathered rice and placed it beneath the roof, and the spirit told him: “You should lay out your rice to dry tomorrow.” Even though the skies were full of rain, and it had not yet cleared up, Rao followed this advice, and the spirit also assisted with the hand-cart.[1] Later on, there was indeed continuous heavy rain. When it was visible to people, the spirit resembled a rhesus monkey. Rao requested talismans from a priest and suspended them at doors and windows. The spirit then gave a great laugh, and said: “You want to stop me with that? I can come and go via the dog flap!” Despite having said this, it no longer entered the house. After several days had passed, it sighed and said: “Your uncle Xu Bao is coming; I should not be seen by him.” The next day he did indeed arrive, and from then the strange events ceased.

From Yiyuan.

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, 323.2562-63:

Xu Daorao 徐道饒

[2563] 徐道饒。以元嘉十年。忽見一鬼。自言是其先人。于時冬日。天氣清朗。先積稻屋下。云。汝明日可曝穀。天方大雨。未有晴時。饒從其教。鬼亦助輦。後果霖雨。時有見者。形如獼猴。饒就道士請符。懸著窗戶。鬼便大笑。欲以此斷我。我自能從狗竇中入。雖則此語。而不復進。經數日。歎云。徐叔寶來。吾不宜見之。后日果至。於是遂絕。出異苑

[1] This translation was revised with generous help from Ofer Waldman. Thanks Ofer!

Xie Lingyun 謝靈運

In the fifth year Yuanjia (428 CE), Xie Lingyun[1] suddenly saw Xie Hui (390-426 CE).[2] Carrying his head in his hands, he came and sat by Lingyun’s bed, blood flowing and splashing around him and onto the marten-fur robe he was wearing, even flowing to fill a small casket. When Lingyun went to Linchuan Prefecture, huge worms suddenly appeared in his rice. Soon after he was executed.

From Yiyuan.

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, 323.2562:

謝靈運

謝靈運以元嘉五年。忽見謝晦。手提其頭。來坐別牀。血流淋落。不可忍視。又所服貂裘。血淹滿篋。及為臨川郡。飯中欻有大蟲。遂被誅。出異苑


[1] Xie Lingyun 謝靈運 (385-433 CE), a highly regarded poet, was executed after becoming enmeshed in intrigues at the Liu Song court. His biography is found at Songshu, 617.1743-79.

[2] This is Xie Hui 謝晦 (courtesy name Xuanming 宣明, 390-426 CE), a senior general and highly regarded strategist implicated in revolt and rebellion against the Liu Song and eventually defeated and executed in 426 CE. His biography is found at Songshu, 414.1347-61. This tale is clearly an omen of doom.

Xie Hui 謝晦

When Xie Hui[1] (390-426 CE) was in Xingzhou, a bright red spirit, three chi tall (about one metre) appeared by the corner of a wall and approached him. In its hand it held a copper tray, and this was full of blood. When Hui got hold of this, it turned out to be a paper tray. In an instant, the spirit disappeared.

From Yiyuan.

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, 323.2561-62:

謝晦

[2562] 謝晦在荊州。壁角間有一赤鬼。長可三尺。來至其前。手擎銅盤。滿中是血。晦得乃紙盤。須臾而沒。出異苑


[1] This is Xie Hui 謝晦 (courtesy name Xuanming 宣明, 390-426 CE), a senior general and highly regarded strategist implicated in revolt and rebellion against the Liu Song and eventually defeated and executed in 426 CE. His biography is found at Songshu, 414.1347-61. This tale is clearly an omen of doom.

A Secretary 給使

Quite recently someone took on a junior secretary. Over a long period the secretary repeatedly sought to return home, but without success. Some time later, this same clerk was sleeping beneath a south-facing window, when his employer noticed a woman in the doorway. Aged fifty or sixty, she was large and plump, and walked with some difficulty. As the clerk was sleeping, his covers had slipped off, and when the woman reached his bedside, she picked up the blanket and covered him again. She turned and went out through the door, but when the clerk turned on his side the cover slipped again, and the woman again put it back as it had been. The employer thought this very strange, and asked his clerk the following day why he had been so keen to return home. The clerk told him: “My mother is ill.” He asked again about her appearance and age, and all were just as he had seen, the only difference being that he said she was thin. Questioned again about her trouble, he replied: “A swelling sickness.” At this he gave the clerk leave to return. He set off, but on reaching home he was told that his mother had already been buried. It turned out that the fat shape he witnessed was a result of the swelling illness.

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, 323.2561:

給使

近世有人得一小給使。頻求還家未遂。後日久。此吏在南窗下眠。此人見門中有一婦人。年五六十。肥大。行步艱難。吏眠失覆。婦人至牀邊。取被以覆之。回復出門去。吏轉側衣落。婦人復如初。此人心怪。明問吏。以何事求歸。吏云。母病。次問狀貌及年。皆為所見。唯云形瘦不同。又問母何患。答云。病腫。而即與吏假。使出。便得家信云。母喪。追什所見之肥。乃是其腫狀也。出幽明錄