A Pig’s Earring 猪耳鐶

The gentleman Jiang Songwei travelled from Shu via Xia, and on reaching the Yun’an Pass killed a pig as a temple sacrifice. When it came to washing the offering, he saw a single ring below one ear, inky coloured, clear and glistening; it must have formerly been a person and a thieving criminal.[1]

Hong Mai, Yi Jian Zhi, ii, 丙18.514

猪耳鐶

將仕郎宋衞自蜀道出峽,至雲安關,殺猪賽廟。洗牲時,見耳下一方鐶,墨色猶明潤,蓋必前身為人而犯盜者也。

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

[1] This refers to the practice of tattooing a ring behind the ear as punishment for convicted thieves or bandits. On this practice, see Songshi 宋史 201.5018; Carrie E. Reed, ‘Tattoo in Early China’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 120 (2000), 360-76: 365. (the article is available online here)

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Heavenly Wrath On Corrupt Officials 天譴墨吏

At the beginning of the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), the Director of Danyang, Wang Qiong, was summoned and dismissed in his third year. Qiong was extremely resentful, and took a great deal of money, visiting the Maoshan Daoist Ye Lingzhong, and seeking a memorial to the throne that would predict the future. Lingzhong was ninety years old, and, when forced to produce the petition, the paper floated up on incense smoke and disappeared into the mists. Soon after it fell back to the ground, with a note in red ink added to the end: “Accepting a hundred liang of gold, taking three years’ salary, murdering two people; these will be resolved after death.” One year later, Qiong died suddenly without illness.

上1.16 (Tale 85):

天譴墨吏

唐貞觀初,丹陽令王瓊,三年調集,遭黜。瓊甚憤惋,乃齎百千,詣茅山道士葉靈中,求章奏以問吉凶。靈中年九十,強為奏之,其章隨香烟飛上,縹渺不見。食頃復墮地,有朱書批其末,云:「受金百兩,折祿三年;枉殺二人,死後處斷。」一歲,瓊無疾暴卒。

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)

A version of the same tale, showing several variations, is found in the Taiping Guangji:

Ye Xuzhong 葉虛中

At the beginning of the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), the Director of Danyang, Wang Qiong, was summoned and dismissed in his third year. He was extremely resentful, and visited the Maoshan Daoist Ye Xuzhong, seeking a memorial to the throne that would predict the future. Xuzhong was over ninety years old, and, when forced to produce the petition, the paper floated up on incense smoke and disappeared into the mists. Soon after it fell back to the ground, with a note in red ink added to the end: “Accepting a hundred liang of gold, taking three years’ salary, murdering two people; these will be resolved after death.” One year later, Qiong did indeed meet a sudden end. From Duyizhi.

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, 73.456-57:

葉虛中

唐貞觀初。丹陽令王瓊。三年調集。皆黜落。甚憤惋。乃齋宿于茅山道士葉虛中。求奏章以問吉凶。虛中年九十餘。彊為奏之。其章隨香煙飛上。縹渺不見。食頃復墮地。有朱書批其末云。受金百兩。折 [457] 祿三年。枉殺二人。死後處分。後一歲。瓊果得暴疾終。出獨異志

Ban Meng 班孟

Ban Meng’s background is unknown; some say they were a woman. Able to travel by flying for days at a time, they could also sit and talk to people from the empty air. They were also able to enter the earth, at first disappearing from feet to chest, then entering fully, only leaving a kerchief behind, which after a long time would disappear entirely, too. Slicing the ground by pointing, a well could be constructed ready to be draw from. Blowing the roof-tiles from houses, tiles would be sent flying among people’s houses and homes. Mulberry shoots numbering in the thousands, Meng could combine them all into one, piled like a mountain and remaining like that for more than ten days; by blowing on them they could be returned to growing as before in their former places. They could moreover swallow a mouthful of ink, stretch out paper before them, chew and spit it out, the whole forming characters across the paper, each bearing full meaning. They took wine and cinnabar, but over four hundred years less and less, eventually entering Dazhishan.

From Shenxianzhuan.

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, 61.382

班孟

班孟者。不知何許人也。或云女子也。能飛行經日。又能坐空虛中與人語。又能入地中。初去時沒足至胸。漸入。但餘冠幘。良久而盡沒不見。以指刺地。即成井可吸。吹人屋上瓦。瓦飛入人家間。桑果數千株。孟皆拔聚之成一。積如山。如此十餘日。吹之各還其故處如常。又能含墨一口中。舒紙着前。嚼墨噴之。皆成文字。竟紙。各有意義。服酒丹。年四百歲更少。入大治山中。出神仙傳

Ascended Immortals Manifest Power 上真顯靈

The Imperial Academician Pan Zuhao (unidentified) lived in Yuzhang. He painted ink and wash images of ascended immortals, then made offerings that they might support him, and his prayers were always answered. One day, the painted image made a weeping sound, and then explained to Zuhao: “You will now die.” Before long he did indeed expire, aged 38 sui. On the day of his death, it also appeared to his son in a dream, saying: “Your father is dead; we ought to return to guard his coffin.” It seized his son Yida, and took him urgently to act as a pallbearer; on the day he departed from the hostel, a vermillion snake curled itself over the coffin. Pan had always served with great care, and this was certainly the response of the immortals. In a wuyin year there was an invasion, and his house was destroyed in the flames of war, leaving only the images in dignified array. His grandson Lin treasured them, handing them down to his fourth son Qingkeng to be remounted, and they were then lost.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.128 (Tale 222):

上真顯靈

太學生潘祖浩,居豫章。水墨畫上真像隨行供養,每禱必應。一日,畫像作哭聲,仍明告祖浩曰:「汝其死矣。」未幾果卒,纔三十八歲。死之日,又託夢其子曰:「汝父已死,我當護其柩歸。」逮其子翼大,亟往扶櫬,離齋舍日,赤蛇蟠其柩上。潘平日事之甚謹,固真聖報之也。戊寅年寇作,其家毀於兵火,儼然獨存。其孫霖寶之,續付青坑季生表背,遂為所失。

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).

Saving Flies Averts Death 救蠅免死

Long ago in the capital was a master winemaker; every day flies would fall into his water and wine and he used pieces of dry ash to save and revive them. After several years like this, those lives saved were extremely numerous. One day, his having been implicated in a crime, the presiding officials wished to execute him, and the office clerk took up his brush to write out the judgement, when a fly took hold of the brush head. He drove it away and dipped the brush again, but it happened once more. In the beginning they thought it a coincidence, but after the third and fourth time began to suspect that there might be some injustice, so questioned and investigated anew. They had not yet made their decision when an amnesty was suddenly announced, so he was pardoned and returned. That fly, the smallest of insects, has little knowledge or dedication, [119] but the creator of things employed it purely in order to reward the winemaker’s good heart.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118-19 (tale 206):

救蠅免死

昔日京師有一酒匠,每日於酒及水內浸死蠅,用乾灰救之即生,如此數年,所活者甚多。一日,偶被罪,當官欲行刑,府官執筆書判,有一蠅抱筆頭,逐去之,再點筆,復如是。初以為偶然,其至三四次,疑有冤抑,再閱審問,未決間,忽遇大赦,得免罪而還。夫蠅至微之蟲,何識而致, [119] 不過造物用之,以報酒匠之善心耳。

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).