Zhang Baocang Achieves Eminence Through Medicine 張寶藏因醫致貴

During the Tang Zhenguan era (627-49 CE), Zhang Baocang was returning to Yueyang after ending his duty as Chief Secretary to the Imperial Guard, when he encountered a youth hunting and eating fresh meat in the wilds. Leaning against a tree he let out a long sigh and said: “Zhang Baocang is aged seventy and has never once had meat and wine like this; what a shame!” By his side there was a monk, who pointed and said: “Within sixty days, you will ascend to the third official grade; how is this something to sigh over?” When he finished speaking, he vanished. Baocang marvelled at this, and immediately returned to the capital. At that time Taizong (r. 626-49 CE) was suffering terribly with dysentery, and a crowd of physicians had no effect, so a decree was promulgated asking whether anyone in the court or retinue had the ability to treat the illness, promising them a rich reward. Baocang had once suffered from the same disease, so prepared a memorial to the throne in answer to the decree, prescribing beans simmered in milk. The emperor took it, and recovered instantly. A decree was passed down to the minister of state appointing him to the fifth official grade. Wei Wei obstructed this, so for more than a month he did not advance any plans. The emperor’s illness recurred, and he asked his retinue: “I previously took beans simmered in milk and this was effective.” He again ordered them to bring him forward, and after a single sip was cured once more. The emperor asked: “I had ordered to award him advancement to grade five, but have not seen him accept the post; why is this?” Wei was afraid, and said: “At the time the decree was issued, it was not clear whether this would be a military or civil branch of the clerks.” The emperor grew angry: “For governing we require a chancellor; we might as well appoint him to the third grade. I am the Son of Heaven; how can this not be up to me?” He therefore said in a loud voice: “Granted civil office in the third grade!” He stood and was appointed Minister for Protocol, and that was exactly sixty days later.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.13 (Tale 74):

張寶藏因醫致貴

唐貞觀中,張寶藏為金吾長史嘗因下直歸櫟陽,路逢少年畋獵,割鮮野食。倚樹長歎曰:「張寶藏身年七十,未嘗得一食酒肉如此者,可悲哉!」傍有一僧,指曰:「六十日內,官登三品,何足歎也。」言訖不見。寶藏異之,即時還京。時太宗苦病痢疾,衆醫不效,即下詔問殿廷左右,有能治此疾者,當重賞之。寶藏曾困此疾,即具疏答詔,以乳煎蓽方進。上服之,立瘥。宣下宰臣:與五品官。魏微難之,逾月不進擬。上疾復作,問左右曰:「吾前服乳煎蓽茇有效。」復令進之,一啜又平復。上問曰:「嘗令與進方人五品官,不見除授,何也?」徵懼曰:「奉詔之際,未知文武二吏。」上怒曰:「治得宰相,不妨授三品;我天子也,豈不及汝邪?」乃厲聲曰:「與三品文官!」立授鴻臚卿,時正六十日矣。

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)

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Liu Bei 劉備

Liu Bei, former ruler of Shu, could see his own ears.[1]

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.6 (Tale 45):

蜀先主劉備,自見其耳。

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 Liu Bei 劉備 (161-223 CE), the famous ruler and character in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Bei.

Murong Chui 慕容垂

Tang Taizong (r. 626-49 CE) was campaigning in Liao and when he reached Dingzhou there was a spirit by the roadside, dressed in white robes and standing tall atop a tomb, its spirited demeanour especially distinctive. When Taizong sent people to question it, it replied: “Our long-ago defeated the lord’s long-ago; the lord’s present defeats our present. Glory and splendour differ in each age; what use is the bitterness of chasing and seeking them?” Its speech being complete, it vanished. On further questioning, the tomb turned out to be that of Murong Chui.[1]

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, 327.2601

慕容垂

唐太宗征遼,行至定州,路側有一鬼,衣黃衣,立高冢上,神彩特異。太宗遣使問之,答曰:「我昔勝君昔,君今勝我今。榮華各異代,何用苦追尋。」言訖不見,問之,乃慕容垂墓。(出《靈怪集》)

[1] Murong Chui 慕容垂 (326-96 CE), a controversial figure, famously both betrayed and betrayer in struggles for power. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murong_Chui.

Remarkable People, Remarkable Matters 異人異事

Yi Yin[1] had no father and was born in Kongsang. The wife of Yu[2] turned to stone, her stomach later slitting open to give birth to Qi.[3] Laojun (i.e., Laozi) had ears that were seven chi in length (about 2.1m); he spent eighty-one years in his mother’s womb, splitting open her left side to be born, and at birth the hair on his temples was pure white. King Yan of Xu[4] was without bones but possessed sagely virtue. Liu Yong[5] enjoyed eating people’s scabs. King Wen (of Zhou)[6] had four breasts. Gao Yao[7] had a bird’s beak. Yao’s[8] eyebrows were eight-coloured. Tang’s[9] (the Shang founder) arm had four elbow-joints. Yu’s ears had triple openings. Li Lou (aka Li Zhu) could distinguish Qiu from Bo from ten li away. Hong Yan, minister of Wei, opened his own belly to receive Duke Yi’s liver.[10] When King Mu of Zhou ascended as Son of Heaven, the traces of his chariot-wheels and horses spread across ‘all-under-heaven’ and in all he travelled one yi and one wan (100,100,000) li (c.33,033,000 miles).

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.1 (Tale 1):

異人異事

伊尹無父,生於空桑中。禹妻化為石,後剖腹而生啟。老君耳長七尺,在母腹中八十一年,剖左脇而生,及生,鬢髮皓白。徐偃王無骨而有聖德。劉邕好食人瘡痂。文王四乳。臯陶鳥喙。堯眉八彩。湯臂四肘。禹耳三漏。離婁察見秋亳於十里之外。衛臣弘演開己腹納懿公之肝。周穆貴為天子,車轍馬迹遍於天下,凡遊行一億一萬里。

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] Yi Yin 伊尹 (c.1600-1549 BCE) is famed as a minister under the Shang Dynasty. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yi_Yin.

[2] This is Yu the Great, legendary founder of the Xia夏. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yu_the_Great.

[3] This is Qi 啟, monarch over the Xia. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi_of_Xia.

[4] A king ruling around 944 BCE; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xu_(state).

[5] This is likely a figure of some note in the Three Kingdoms era. See https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8A%89%E9%82%95_(%E8%9C%80%E6%BC%A2).

[6] 1152-1056 BCE. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Wen_of_Zhou.

[7] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gao_Yao_(minister).

[8] Traditionally c. 2356-2255 BCE. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Yao.

[9] Traditionally r. 1675-46 BCE. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_of_Shang.

[10] Duke Yi died c. 660 BCE. See https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%A1%9B%E6%87%BF%E5%85%AC.

Immortal Lü’s Prophetic Poem 呂仙詩讖

During the Song Xuanhe era (1119-25), Huizong (r.1100-1126) provided meals for a thousand Daoists, only omitting a single name; when a Daoist suffering from leprosy requested a meal, the supervisor of the gate categorically refused this. At that time, Huizong was in conversation with the priest Lin Lingsu (1076-1120), when the Daoist suddenly appeared to his majesty, and he urgently sent people to deliver the meal. The Daoist scratched one of the hall pillars with something tucked in the sleeve of his robe and departed. Huizong saw and marveled at this, and rose to look, finding chalked writing that read:

Loud talk and empty words as if all alone,

Pity the wise monarch who cannot encounter truth.

If His Majesty asks his servant what is yet to come,

Pray attend to the springs of wu, wei, bing and ding.

It indeed turned out that in the bingwu and dingwei years of the Jingkang era (1126 and 1127), the two emperors suffered their northern troubles.[1]

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.130 (Tale 226):

呂仙詩讖

宋宣和間,徽宗齋設一千道人,只闕一名,適有一風癩道人求齋,監門官力拒之。其時,徽宗與道士林靈素在便殿談話,而道人忽在階下,急遣人送去赴齋。道人以布袍袖在殿柱上一抹而往,徽宗見而怪之,起身觀柱上,有粉筆書云:「高談闊論若無人,可惜明君不遇真。陛下問臣來日事,請看午未丙丁春。」果而靖康丙午丁未,二帝有北行之難。

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).

[1] This presumably refers to Huizong’s abdication in 1126 and the capture of Huizong and his son Qinzong by Jin forces in 1127.

A Brightly-Coloured Dragon Emblem 龍章五色

[3] The childhood name of Song Wudi, Liu Yu (356-422 CE) was Jinu. On the first evening after his birth, a splendid auspicious light penetrated the chamber. In his days of poverty and hardship, he arrived at the Zhulin Temple in Jingkou, lying down in the classroom, where there appeared the imperial dragon emblem in bright colours; the monks of the temple were astonished by it. Where the emperor halted and resided, people often saw a pair of small dragons, like the yi bird[1] in appearance. Later, when he attacked Dixinzhou, there was a huge serpent, several zhang (c.3.33m) in length, and the emperor shot and wounded it. The following day, on returning there, he suddenly heard a sound like a mortar and pestle, and the emperor went to observe this, seeing several youths all dressed in (servants’) dark robes, pounding medicine among the thick vegetation. The emperor questioned them, and a youth said: “Our king turned into a snake and went out, but was shot by Liu Jinu, so we are preparing medicine to help him.” The emperor said: “The king can then be immortal, why did he not kill?” The youth said: “The king Jinu cannot be killed. He is marked by the Heavenly Mandate; how can he be killed?” The emperor shouted at them, and all fled. He took all the medicine and returned, using it to treat wounds from metal, and none so treated did not recover. Now the Bencao calls this Liu Jinu, and this name is taken from Wudi.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.2-3 (Tale 2):

龍章五色

[3] 宋武帝劉裕,小字寄奴。始生之夕,祥光燦爛,洞燭一室。微時游京口竹林寺,臥於講堂上,有五色龍章,寺僧見而驚異之。帝所居止,常見有二小龍如附翼狀。後伐荻新洲,有大蛇長數丈,帝射傷之。明日復至,俄聞杵臼聲,帝往覘之,見數童子皆衣青衣,擣藥榛莽中。帝詢之,童子曰:「我王化為蛇而出,為劉寄奴所射,故為合藥傅之。」帝曰:「王果能神,何不殺之?」童子曰:「寄奴王者不死。天之所命,豈可殺也!」帝叱之,皆逸。盡收其藥而返,以傅金瘡,無不愈者。今《本草》稱劉寄奴,蓋以武帝而得名也。

[1] Here yi 翼 refers to a bird described in Shanhaijing, which, having a single wing, can only fly in pairs.

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).