Li Dairen 李戴仁

On riverbanks there are many chan gui, who call out people’s names. Those who reply will surely drown, their dead souls then enticing others in. Li Dairen was once mooring his boat at Qupu in Zhijiang County, the moonlight clear and bright, when he suddenly saw an old woman and a young boy emerge from the water’s surface and look around. Unable to speak, he whispered: “They are humans!” Surprised, they ran across the surface of the water as if travelling on dry ground, climbed the bank and departed.

The governor of Dangyang Su Rui resided in Jiangling. Once, when returning home at night, he saw a beautiful woman with unbound hair. Her clothes were extremely fine, but appeared to be very wet. Rui spoke in jest: “You’re not a chan gui, are you?” The woman replied furiously: “You call me a ghost?!” She then began to run after him, so Rui fled, only stopping when he bumped into a watch patrol. He then saw the woman return down the street from whence she had come.

From Beimeng suoyan.

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, 352.2788:

李戴仁

江河邊多倀鬼。往往呼人姓名。應之者必溺。乃死魂者誘之也。李戴仁嘗維舟於枝江縣曲浦中。月色皎然。忽見一嫗一男子。出水面四顧。失聲云。此有生人。遽馳水面。若履平地。登岸而去。當陽令蘇汭居江陵。嘗夜歸。月明中。見一美人被髮。所著裾裾。殆似水濕。汭戲云。非江倀耶。婦人怒曰。喚我作鬼。奔而逐之。汭走。遇更巡方止。見婦却返所來之路。出北夢瑣言

The Monk Da An 大安和尚

During the reign of Tang Zetian (i.e., Wu Zetian, r. 690-705 CE), there was a woman who called herself Saint Bodhisattva. Wherever a person’s mind went, this woman would always know. The Empress Dowager summoned her to court, and everything she said before and after were verified, so she was served with great respect in the palace. After several months, she came to be called the True Bodhisattva. After that the monk Da An entered the palace. The Empress Dowager asked him whether or not he had met the female Bodhisattva. An replied: “Where is the Bodhisattva? I would like to see her.” It was decreed that they should meet. The monk took on a lofty and distant demeanour. After a long pause, Dan An asked: “If you have skill in mental contemplation, try and see. Where is my mind?” The answer came: “The master’s mind is among the bells by the nine rings at the top of the pagoda.” After a little while, he asked again. She said: “Listening to the Dharma in the Tushita Maitreya Temple.” When he asked for a third time, he was beyond thinking or not-thinking. All were as she said. The Empress Dowager was delighted. Da An therefore placed his mind among the land of the four Arhat saints, and so she was not able to find it. Da An scolded the woman: “My mind was placed in the place of the Arhats, and you were no longer able to find it. If you were among the Bodhisattvas, how could this be the case?” The woman said she submitted, but then transformed into a female fox, descended the stairs and departed; nobody knows where she went.

From Guangyiji.

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), ix, 447.3660:

大安和尚

唐則天在位,有女人自稱聖菩薩。人心所在,女必知之。太后召入宮,前後所言皆驗,宮中敬事之。數月,謂為真菩薩。其後大安和尚入宮,太后問見女菩薩未?安曰:「菩薩何在?願一見之。」敕令與之相見。和尚風神邈然。久之,大安曰:「汝善觀心,試觀我心安在?」答曰:「師心在塔頭相輪邊鈴中。」尋復問之。曰:「在兜率天彌勒宮中聽法。」第三問之,在非非想天。「皆如其言。太后忻悅。大安因且置心於四果阿羅漢地,則不能知。大安呵曰:「我心始置阿羅漢之地,汝已不知。若置于菩薩諸佛之地,何由可料!」女詞屈,變作牝狐,下階而走,不知所適。出廣異記

*Translation edited after feedback from Ofer Waldman – thanks Ofer!*

Zhang Jian 張簡

Teaching Assistant to the Tang Imperial Academy Zhang Jian was from Koushi in Henan. He once gave a lecture at a provincial school on ‘Selected Literature’. A fox sprite took on Jian’s form, delivered a lecture on a book, and then departed. When Jian arrived soon after, his pupils were bewildered and asked him about it. Jian was surprised and said: “The former must have been a fox sprite.” He cancelled the lecture and returned to his rooms. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The food I have just cooked is cold; why has elder brother come so late?” Jian seated himself but after waiting for a long time his food still didn’t arrive. He reproached his sister, but she said: “I didn’t see you arrive in the first place; it must have been that fox sprite. If we see it again, kill it!” He came back the next day. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The demon has just gone behind the rooms.” Jian took up a cudgel. He saw his real younger sister emerging from the toilet, and attacked her. His sister screamed “It’s me!” Jian did not believe her, and he beat her to death. When he went to ask the silk-winder, she immediately turned into a fox and departed.

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658:

張簡

唐國子監助教張簡,河南緱氏人也。曾為鄉學講《文選》。有野狐假簡形,講一紙書而去。須臾簡至,弟子怪問之。簡異曰:「前來者必野狐也。」講罷歸舍,見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「適煮菜冷,兄來何遲?」簡坐,久待不至,乃責其妹。妹曰:「元不見兄來,此必是野狐也。更見即殺之!」明日又來。見妹坐絡絲,謂簡曰:「鬼魅適向舍後。」簡遂持棒。見真妹從廁上出來,遂擊之。妹號叫曰:「是兒。」簡不信,因擊殺之。問絡絲者,化為野狐而走。出朝野僉載

Fox Deities 狐神

Since the early Tang, many among the common folk have served fox spirits, making offerings inside their homes to request benevolence. Their food and drink is the same as that of humans. Those who served them did not share a single master. At the time there was an adage that said: ‘No successful village lacks a fox demon.’

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658:

狐神

唐初已來,百姓多事狐神。房中祭祀以乞恩。食飲與人同之。事者非一主。當時有諺曰:「無狐魅,不成村。」出朝野僉載

Hu Daoqia 胡道洽

Hu Daoqia described himself as a man of Guangling. He enjoyed matters of music and the medical arts. His body had a foul smell, and he always used a famous fragrance to guard against it. His only fear was of vicious dogs, and he knew the date of his own death, warning his younger brother and his son: “When my breath stops bury me quickly. Do not allow dogs to see my corpse.” He died in Shanyang, but when burial preparations were complete, the coffin felt empty, and when it was opened to check, there was no sign of a body. People at the time all said he was a fox. 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), ix, 447.3656:

胡道洽

胡道洽。自云廣陵人。好音樂醫術之事。題有臊氣。恒以名香自防。唯忌猛犬。自審死日。戒弟子曰。氣絕便殯。勿令狗見我尸也。死于山陽。斂畢。覺棺空。即開看。不見尸體。時人咸謂狐也。出異苑

On Foxes 說狐

When foxes reach fifty years of age, they can transform into adult women. At a hundred years they can be beautiful girls, and perform sorcery. Some become husbands and enjoy carnal relations with women. They have awareness of matters extending up to a thousand li away. They are skilled at wielding noxious influence and charms, and can perplex and mislead people, stealing away their wisdom. At a thousand years they can receive the direct blessings of heaven, as a divine fox.

From Xuanzhongji.

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), ix, 447.3652:

說狐

狐五十歲。能變化為婦人。百歲為美女。為神巫。或為丈夫與女人交接。能知千里外事。善蠱魅。使人迷惑失智。千歲即與天通。為天狐。

出玄中記

The Henggong Fish 橫公魚

In the northern wastes there is a Lake Shi, a thousand li on each side. The banks are over five zhang high (one zhang is c. 3.3m), and it is permanently frozen, thawing only for forty or fifty days in summer. There lives the Henggong Fish, seven to eight chi in length (more than 2 metres), shaped like a carp and red. In daytime they stay in the water, but at night take human form. Stabbing will not pierce them, boiling will not kill them. Only a fire of two dark plum branches will finish them off. Eating them will halt illness caused by malign influence.

From Shenyilu.

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), x, 464.3822:

北方荒中有石湖。方千里。岸深五丈餘。恒氷。唯夏至左右五六十日解耳。有橫公魚。長七八尺。形如鯉而赤。晝在水中。夜化為人。刺之不入。煮之不死。以烏梅二枚煮之則死。食之可止邪病。出神異錄