A Copper Coffin Descends From Heaven 天降銅棺

Zou Su, the Wine Supervisor for Zhengzou, was just and impartial in office, and respected by people for that. In Zhengzhou one day, as the sun reached noon, wind and hail descended from the heavens, mist and cloud arose from all four sides around the north gate, and a black miasma spun out of it and arose vertically, meeting the heavens without dissipating. A lidless copper coffin descended from the sky, and music came loud and clear out of the empty air. At that time all of Zhengzhou’s junior clerks below the rank of prefect, generals and officers, scholars and commoners, monks and Daoists all changed their clothes and tried to get into the coffin. It being narrow outside and wide within, however, none were able to enter. Winding his wine supervisor’s kerchief as he arrived, Su was asked by the crowd to enter the coffin, and he had not the slightest difficulty. A moment later, a copper lid descended, circled by multi-coloured clouds, and it was all then lifted among the beautiful sound of immortals and the voices of cranes, amid auspicious clouds of heavenly fragrance, and, in a cloud of enduring mist, the coffin gradually turned to the north and departed. He now serves as the judge over longevity in the distant north.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.150 (Tale 263):

天降銅棺

鄭州監酒鄒宿,為官公正無私,人所推敬。一日,鄭州日方午,天降風雹,煙雲四起於北門,黑霧盤旋直上,衝天不散,降下無蓋銅棺一具,但聞空中音樂嘹喨。時鄭州自守倅以下官吏、將校、士庶、僧道,盡易衣服,欲入銅棺。而外狹內寬,皆莫能入。續監酒巾裹而來,衆請之入棺,亦無少(「少」,明刻本作「所」。)礙。少焉,復降銅蓋,綵雲繚繞,擎舉而上,仙韶鶴唳,瑞氣天香,靄靄不散,其棺冉冉向北而去。今為北極司壽限判官。

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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An Immortal Treats Reversed Hands 仙醫反掌

In the market of Huofu, in Wanzai County, there was a beggar surnamed Guo, whose left hand and both feet were all twisted upwards. This only allowed him to scrape along the ground leaning on a staff held in his right hand, so people called him ‘Scrape Guo’. His mother was elderly and suffered from arthritis; his younger brother suffered in the same way. Scrape went out to beg on the first and fifteenth day of each month. The people of the market all felt sympathy for him and treated him generously, so he was able to support both mother and brother, gathering a month’s worth of provisions, and he went on like this for eighteen years without resentment. In the winter of the second year Yuanzhen (1296), he encountered a Daoist who, seeing his extreme poverty, and his voluntary support for mother and younger brother, he then took five balls of medicine and gave them to Scrape, saying: “If you take my medicine, your long-standing trouble will immediately be resolved.” Scrape took them as instructed, and his hand and feet were then as normal. Not having expected such healing of his illness, he no longer had a reason for his begging, and people were no longer generous to him. Just as he found himself in dire need, he again encountered the same Daoist. Scrape thanked him, and entreated him, saying: “When I received the kind grant of medicine, I happened to forget that my mother is ill; not having shared it with her, my mother now remains [146] ill.” The Daoist gave him five more medicine balls; his mother took two balls, and it was as if her illness had vanished. He still had three balls, and this came to the attention of a wealthy person living near the village who suffered from the same condition. The rich person spoke to Scrape: “It is said you have three pellets of a wonder drug; I will buy these from you for one ingot’s worth of paper money.” Scrape replied that he did not want to accept money, but did want to relieve his condition, and, if he could supply the needs of their three mouths for life, he would happily give him the medicine. Afterwards, when the effect had been demonstrated, the wealthy person kept his word and supported them.

It can only be that Scrape Guo’s single-minded filial piety led him to encounter this immortal and benefit from boundless good fortune. Why, if a beggar can devote himself in this way, others should certainly examine their own conduct.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.145-46 (Tale 255):

仙醫反掌

萬載縣獲賦市,有丐者姓郭,左手及兩足皆反掌於上,止得右手拄地擦行,人遂名以「郭擦」。母老病風,弟病亦然。擦每月朔望出丐,一市人皆憐而惠之,遂得養母及弟,僅得一月之食,如此者十八年無怨。元貞二年冬,遇一道人,見其貧苦,又甘心養母與弟,遂與藥五丸與擦,云:「汝服吾藥,宿疾頓可。」擦如教服之,手足隨即如常。不料疾愈,無可託辭以丐,而人亦無惠之者。方窘急間,又遇元道人。擦謝之,且祈之云:「向蒙惠藥,偶忘母疾,未曾分與,今母尚 [146] 病。」道人再以五丸與之,其母服兩丸,其疾如失。尚餘三丸,適為里近富人所知,其病亦同,富人與擦云:「聞汝有妙藥三丸,以鈔一錠與汝回贖。」擦應言不願受鈔,願病安,三口乞終身供給,遂以藥授之。後果效,富人守信供給之,得非郭擦一念孝悌,獲遇神仙以受無窮之福。吁!丐者而處心如此,人亦可以自反矣。

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 Wineseller Encounters An Immortal 賣酒遇仙

In the Song Jingding era, the renxu year (1262), within the borders of Jingjiang fu one Lin Yilang opened up a wineshop, the flavour of his wine being rather good. One day, a frail and emaciated Daoist came, saying: “This poor cleric wishes to buy wine from the gentleman on credit; one thousand per day, paying back the money within a year; how about it?” Lin said: “More than a thousand would also be permissible; longer than a year would also be permissible, just as long as the Master receives a drink.” He gave the cleric several cups of wine to drink before he left. The next day he came again, and, provided with a thousand’s worth of wine, the Daoist drank it all. Lin said to his wife and son: “This Daoist is unusual; he never [139] speaks at all.” From then he came and drank, the same for six days, then took out a lump of silver from his robe and entrusted it to Lin. Lin said: “The deal is for a year, and it has not even been ten days, so why now? I certainly do not dare to accept this.” The Daoist was pleased, drinking again, and then saying: “It is said that your residence contains unburied dead; this poor cleric is skilled at geomancy, and above your residence is a certain place in Wulito where you should bury it quickly, and subsequently attain wealth and prosperity.” Lin said: “How dare one expect such things? Have some wine.” After repeated urging he finally complied. When the burial was complete, the Daoist requested wine before the tomb, and poured several horn cups over it, chanting:

Finally drunk once after fifty days,

Villagers’ homebrew outshines heavenly ambrosia.

Holding out his hand he summoned a crane, climbing aboard it and departing, not returning despite the family all beseeching him. After three years, the Lin family became greatly wealthy, and the son went straight, by means of the grain for posts exchange, into office; this is truly proof of the cleric’s skill.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.138-39 (Tale 244):

賣酒遇仙

宋景定壬戌,靜江府境內有林一郎者,開酒肆,味頗佳。一日,有癯瘠道人來,曰:「貧道欲與公賒酒,一日一千,限一年方還錢,可乎?」林曰:「一千以上亦可,一年以外亦可,只要先生飲得。」即與飲數杯而往。次日來,供以酒一千,道人飲盡。林與妻子曰:「此道人不凡,決不可出 [139] 言語。」自此來飲,凡六日,懷中出銀一塊權寄。林曰:「一年之約,未得十日,何故?決不敢(「敢」,明刻本、明抄本作「收」。)受。」道人喜,又飲,卻云:「聞宅上有喪未葬,貧道善風水,宅上自有地在五里頭某處,急宜葬,則立致富貴。」林曰:「安敢望此!且飲酒。」再三再四方從。葬畢,道人在墳前索酒,連沃數觥,朗吟曰:「五十日來方一醉,人間村酒勝天漿。」引手招一鶴,跨之而去,一家懇求不返。後三年,林家大發財,直(「直」,明抄本作「產」。)子納粟補官,果符其術。

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).

Two Immortals Hidden In Bamboo 二仙隱竹

It was winter, on the second day of the eleventh month of the second year of the Zhiping era (2 December, 1065), when Huang Tingjian (1045-1105)[1] wrote Meiting Ji as a monk of the Jing Hall. Reading ‘Youguai Lu’, we find:

The clerk Lu Yanchang had a great bamboo that towered into the clouds; it was probably three chi (about 1m) in circumference. When he cut it open, he found within it two elderly immortals facing one another, who said: “After a life of deep roots and unswerving uprightness, it is a pity when the owner chops it down.” After speaking, they mounted the clouds and departed. Tingjian remarked: “This is exactly like the business of the ancients and the immortals in the tangerine garden.”[2]

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.132 (Tale 231):

二仙隱竹

黃庭堅,治平二年冬十一月初二日為鏡堂僧作《梅亭記》。閱《幽怪錄》云:鄜延長吏有大竹淩雲,可三尺圍,伐剖之,見內有二仙翁相對,云:「平生深根勁節,惜為主人所伐。」言畢,乘雲而去。庭堅曰:「此與昔人橘園叟之事無異。」

[1] On Huang Tingjian, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huang_Tingjian

[2] This refers to tale 230, ‘Four Immortals Play Chess’ 四仙弈棋, found here: https://huhaixinwen.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/four-immortals-play-chess-%E5%9B%9B%E4%BB%99%E5%BC%88%E6%A3%8B/

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).

Immortal Lü Brings Enlightenment 呂仙教化

During the Song Jingding era (1260-64), the family of Qian Yan, guard commander for Shaowu, had a shop selling incense and spirit money, and often gave alms to mendicant monks, always contributing one copper dangsanqian (‘worth three’) coin, and never skimping, showing weariness or forgetting. One day, as they rose at dawn to open the shop, there was a religious holding a palm-leaf fan who came to the gate to receive alms. He happened to meet Yan’s wife, who, being angry owing to an unrelated matter, and showing this in words and expression, threw two dangsanqian coins onto the fan, from which they then fell on the floor. The religious trampled them underfoot, without even a turn of the head, and departed as if floating on air. When Yan himself emerged to pick up the coins, they were bonded to the cobblestone, and even using all his strength he was quite unable to shift them. The onlookers were shocked and marveled at this, and hurried to find the religious, who had vanished without a trace. When they scooped out the cobble using a pickaxe, a poem was found inscribed on the back:

The Master’s great vow spans the cosmos,

Until today it has encountered no boundary.

Intending with special purpose to return once more,

Pity the lady Yan whose character hampers immortals.

The cobblestone is now in the city god’s temple and can be inspected.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.129 (Tale 224):

呂仙教化

宋景定年間,邵武軍衛(「衛」,明抄本作「衙」。)前殷家香紙店,常供雲水道人,每緣(「緣」明刻本、明抄本作「員」。)奉銅當三錢一个,未嘗少倦忽。一日,早起開店,有道人持椶扇,登門結緣,適逢殷家婦人以他事遷怒,形於辭色,連以兩枚當三錢擲在椶扇中,遂流於地。道人以足踐之,更不回顧,飄然而去。殷自出拾起元錢,則固結於磚上,用力亦不能動矣。觀者駭異,急尋訪道人,已杳然不見。復將鋤頭連磚穵出,見磚背有詩曰:「先生大願度三千,直到如今不得緣。得得此來還有意,可憐殷氏骨難仙。」今此石砌在城隍廟中,可考。

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).

Apes Invite A Physician 猿請醫士

A physician of Shangzhou had taken up his case and was offering treatment on the road. One day, as dusk turned to night, he was seized by several people and taken away so fast they almost flew. The physician yelled out for help, but the villagers who gathered could not wrest him away. His captors having stopped in a narrow defile among crags, the physician touched them and found they were all covered in fur. After several more li, they reached a stone chamber, where he saw an elderly ape laid out on a stone bed and attended by numerous women, all of whom were quite beautiful in appearance. One of the women spoke to the physician: “The general suffers stomach pains.” The physician diagnosed dyspepsia, so gave him a dose of food-dispersing medicine to take. The elderly ape was then able to rise to a sitting position, and instructed the woman to give him a kerchief, and ordered several people to escort him back.

On reaching his home he looked inside the kerchief, and its contents were all silver and gold. The next day he took these to sell, but someone recognised them as their family property, and wanted to go straight to the authorities. The physician told them of their origin, returning all of the property, and the matter was then resolved. It happened that another night several people again requested that he go with them, and then he saw the old ape wore an ashamed expression. The woman gave him another kerchief, saying that these objects had been obtained rather further away, and he could sell them without hindrance. The physician returned with these, and subsequently became very wealthy.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.254 (Tale 458):

猿請醫士

商州醫者負篋行醫,一日昏黑,為數人擒去如飛。醫者大呼求援,鄉人羣聚而不可奪。所擒之人,懸崖絕險,醫者捫其身皆毛。行數里到石室中,見一老猿卧於石榻之上,侍立數婦人,皆有姿色。一婦人謂醫曰:「將軍腹痛。」醫者覺其傷食,遂以消食藥一服與之以服。老猿即能起坐,且囑婦人以一帕與之,令數人送其回歸。抵家視之,盡黃白也。次日持賣,有人認為其家之物,欲置之官,醫者直述其由,盡以其物還之,其事方釋。忽一夕,數人又來請其去,見老猿有愧色,其婦人又與一帕,且謂得之頗遠,賣之無妨。醫者持歸,遂至大富。

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).