Punishing A Python Through The Law 法誅蟒精

The Qiongzhou Daoist Zhang Biyun (lit. ‘Jade Cloud Zhang’) performed the Thunder Rites. He was famous across Sichuan, supernatural beings resenting and fearing him. At that time the ‘Disciple of Heshan’ Wei Wenweng (Wei Liaoweng 魏了翁?[1]) was governing Xuzhou, and his wife fell ill, the sickness persisting for a long time without recovery, so he dispatched a runner with a letter describing it, sending it to Biyun. Biyun thus wrote out two talismans and gave them to the runner, praying and saying: “Burn these within the hall, and through this a thing within your kitchen will be cremated.” The runner returned and reported to Wenweng, burning it as instructed. Several days later, they found the chambers filled with a foul smell, and suddenly noticed beneath a shelf [164] a giant python, five or six zhang in length (c.17-20m), and already quite dead. His household then understood that this was a python demon, and his wife’s illness was then cured.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.163-64 (Tale 284):

法誅蟒精

邛州道士張碧雲,行雷法,四川有名,鬼神望而畏之。時魏鶴山弟文翁知敘州,內人得病,纏緜不愈,差二承局持書與狀,去投碧雲。碧雲即書二符與承局,祝云:「堂內焚化,以一就竈中焚化。」承局歸告文翁,如其言焚之。數日後,但聞滿屋臭穢,忽於閣(「閣」原作「闔」,據明刻本改。)板 [164] 下見一巨蟒,長五六丈,已死。其家方知為祟者蟒也,夫人之病遂安。

[1] On Wei Liaoweng 魏了翁, see http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History/Song/personsweiliaoweng.html

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).

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The Celestial Master Executes A Turtle 天師斬黿

In the wuxu year of the Dade era (1298), there was an ancient dyke at the southern fringe of the various prefectures’ salt production offices. The dyke was thirty li from the sea, but the ground extending from it was very alkaline and the swell of the tide eroded the dyke every year, flooding the salt-works. The power of the sea encroached upon the prefectural capital, and when news of this reached the government office, they built up the dyke across more than two hundred zhang (660m), but within three days it had collapsed again. Everyone said that water demons had caused the damage, and that this was not something people could repair. The provincial council informed the Department of State Affairs, who respectfully received the letter and courteously invited the thirty-eighth Celestial Master to hurry and visit Hangzhou. At that time the provincial officials combined to make five days of offerings, day and night, beginning from the first day of the fifth month (10 June, 1298). When these offerings were finished, the Celestial Master sent a Master of the Law on board a boat, to throw an iron tally into the river. Initially the iron tally bounced and leapt among the waves, but after a moment it sank, wind, thunder, lightning and fog circling and winding around it. The following day they looked at the river and saw the sand rising through the day, and the dyke returned to its previous form, rising out of the river’s centre. In a depression on the sand there was a strange thing, killed by a lightning strike upon it, and more than two zhang (6.6m) across, shaped like a soft-shelled turtle, but bearing a shell. The provincial office sent a memorial to the court upon hearing of it, and they received lofty and generous commendation and reward.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.163 (Tale 283):

天師斬黿

大德戊戌年,鹽官州州南瀕古塘,塘距海三十里,地橫亙皆斥鹵,比年潮汐衝齧,鹽場陷焉。海勢侵逼州治,州以事聞於省府,復加修築塘岸二百餘丈,不三日復圮,皆謂水怪為害,非人力能復。省咨都省聞奏,欽奉玉音,禮請卅八代天師馳驛詣杭州。時合省官僚,以五月朔就佑聖觀建醮五晝夜。醮畢,天師遣法師乘船,投鐵符于江。初則鐵符跳躍浪中,食頃方沉,風雷電霧旋繚(「繚」,明刻本作「遶」。)于中。明日視之,沙漲日增,堤岸復舊,江心突起。沙湫中有異物,為雷殛死于上,廣二丈長許,狀如黿,有殼。省府聞奏于朝,崇(「崇」,明刻本作「榮」。)錫旌賞。

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).

An Earthworm Demon 蚯蚓為妖

Qian Zizhao of Pengze County in Jiangzhou had a daughter who was still unmarried when she reached ‘the hairpin’ (i.e., the age of fifteen). Her parents came to realise that she was pregnant, and questioned her about it. She said: “Every night a beautiful youth comes out of the Heavenly Well and sleeps with me; this has been going on for half a year.” Her father and mother suspected that she might have been seduced by a demon, so gave her a length of fine thread on a needle, and instructed her to wait until she went out, and then to secretly attach it to her robe, so they could track where she had gone. The next morning they walked around and made an inspection, finding a two-cun length of thread trapped against one of the bricks in the well (a cun is about 2.5cm). Digging out a stone slab, below it they found a white earthworm, more than two chi in length (a chi is about 33 cm). When they killed it, it made a chirruping sound.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.260 (Tale 472):

為妖

江州彭澤縣潛子昭,有女及笄未婚,父母覺而有娠,詰之。乃曰:「每夜有美少年從天井中出,與同寢,今已半年矣。」父母疑為祟所惑,乃以[*糸末*]線穿針授女,令俟其去,則密縫其衣,視之何去。次早巡視,天井中磚縫外尚留線二寸許,掘開石板,下得白蚯蚓一條,長二尺許,殺之,作聲唧唧。

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).

The Great Serpent Of Chengdu 成都長蛇

In the Xianchun era, on the sixth day of the fourth month in the yichou year (23 April, 1265), the clerk Xia Yingchen of the Tanzhou government office made a report in an imperial bulletin, and one section within it read:

In Shenwenjiang County, Chengdu Prefecture, there was a mottled yellow snake, more than a hundred zhang (a zhang is about 3.3m) in length, a spirit radiance extending more than three hundred paces around, its mouth spitting out a fragrance of pepper and plum flowers, its vapour scorching more than twenty li; those people and animals killed by it are innumerable. On the third day of the seventh month last year (27 July, 1264), this prefecture gathered more than two thousand five hundred soldiers to apprehend it, but the serpent used its tail to turn and sweep the troops away. More than five hundred were drowned, and the rest all fled in terror. The emperor decreed that the Daoist Masters of Shu use their powers to deal with the matter; they have just slain it, and its bones are like mountains.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.259 (Tale 470):

成都長蛇

咸淳乙丑四月六日,潭州書局夏應辰錄邸報從遞來,內一項云:「成都府申溫江縣有黃花斑蛇一條,長百餘丈,神光照三百餘步,口吐椒梅花香,薰灼二十餘里,殺人畜無數。去年七月三日,本府差甲士二千五百餘人收捕,蛇用尾掉卷軍士,溺死者五百餘人,餘皆驚遁。上旨命天師蜀中有法之士治之,方戮死,骨如山。」

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).

Human Face, Pig Body 人面豬形

[257] In the Zhiyuan era, the gengchen year (1280), a sow in the household of Yang Liusi, to the east of Longquan County in Chuzhou, gave birth to a litter of seven. One of them had a pig’s body and a human face, eyes like those of a phoenix, a long and curved lower jaw, its mouth and nose leaving it unable to suckle milk. This form was terrifying, so after a day it was shot dead.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.256-57 (Tale 465):

人面豬形

[257] 至元庚辰,處州龍泉縣東楊六四家豬母生七子,其一豬身人面,眼相如鳳,下頷長而彎腫,其口鼻不能食乳,怪狀可畏,踰日而斃。

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 Sow Bears A Baby 豬母生孩

The Li family of Yanluo had nothing else but the raising of sows, which they did every few years, making a reasonable profit, and used this in order to arrange their marriages. One year it happened that their sow gave birth to two piglets, one of which was pig-shaped but had human feet, so people thought it a marvel. They kept it for a day, but then a religious came and said “This is not auspicious.” They then killed it. The sow died, too, and their household went into decline. People of Jiangmin specialize in raising pigs on polished rice; they are wasters of the five grains, and this should be taken as a warning.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.256 (Tale 464):

豬母生孩

嚴㴖季家無以給,每畜豬母,數年以來,獲利不少,至於娶妻由是乎辦。忽一年,豬生兩子,一子豬形人腳,人以為異。留一日,忽道人來曰:「此不祥也。」遂斃之。豬母亦死,其家衰替。江閩人家專以白米飼豬,耗散五穀者,亦可以為戒。

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 Mother Dog Bears A Baby 狗母生孩

At the beginning of the second month in the renwu year (the nineteenth year of the sixty-year cycle), Chen Zhai, of Gaoquan Village in Pucheng County, had a female dog that gave birth to a puppy. ‘Googoo’ filled the house, just like the cries of a newborn baby. Early the next morning when it was examined, its bizarre form was detestable, so they then shot and killed it. How could this not be a human body born by a strange error?

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.256 (Tale 463):

狗母生孩

浦城縣高泉里陳宅,壬午二月初間,有狗母獨產一狗兒,通家呱呱,似初生牙兒啼聲。詰朝視之,怪狀可惡,隨即斃之。豈非人身誤墮胎耶?

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).