A Spirit Uproots A Tree 鬼拔樹

Towards the end of the Xingding 興定 era (1217-1220 CE), a peasant from Caozhou 曹州 was walking along the road one day, when he was caught in a sudden shower. From the empty air a voice spoke: “Brave enough?” He then heard a loud laughing sound. The person went on a further half-li, and saw a large willow tree torn up by its roots and thrown several dozen paces. In the mud there was the print of a great thigh and buttocks, about as big as a grain container. That spirit must have pulled up a tree and then just fallen on its back and laughed!

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 2.26:

鬼拔樹

興定末,曹州一農民,一日行道中,忽驟雨。聞空中人語云:「敢否」?俄又聞大笑聲。此人行半里,見道左大柳樹拔根出,擲之十步外,泥中印大臀髀痕,如麥籠許,蓋神拔樹偃坐泥中破笑耳。

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)

A Temple Spirit Seizes A Fan 廟鬼奪人扇

Before Fan Zhi, Duke of Lu (911-964 CE), became influential, he was seated in a teahouse in Fengqiu, holding a fan on which was inscribed ‘The heat of summer drives out corrupt officials; a pure breeze brings back the departed.’ A strange and ugly figure suddenly appeared before him and bowed, saying: “How can the injustice of corrupt government end like the summer heat? Someday the gentleman will have to think deeply about this matter.” It then picked up the fan and departed. The gentleman was left sorrowful and unable to fathom the matter. Several days after, he passed a temple and saw a short spirit figure made of earth and wood – looking just like the strange and ugly person from the teahouse – holding his fan in its hands; the gentleman was astonished by this. Afterwards, on attaining a position of power, his first action was to consult on settling the [226] unified code of punishment.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.225-26 (Tale 402):

廟鬼奪人扇

范魯公質未顯時,坐封丘茶肆,手持扇,偶題「大暑去酷吏,清風來故人。」忽有一怪陋人前揖曰:「世之酷吏冤抑何止如大暑,公他日當深究此弊。」因攜其扇而去。公憫然莫測。後數日,過一廟,見一土木短鬼,狀貌酷類茶肆中者,扇亦在其手中,公心異焉。後致大用,首建議詳定 [226] 刑統。

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 Clay Mendicant Buys Chestnuts 泥行者買栗

The Sizhou Buddha of Longquan’s Wugou Hall was very powerful. Every day at dusk there was a mendicant who would take up the begging bowl and monk’s staff, walking and singing in the town, saying that the sects had become one text; nobody knew to which monastery he belonged. One night it happened that, at chestnut roasting store at the end of the Jichuan Bridge, a single lamp still burned, and the mendicant held up his bold and bought chestnuts. Following him on tiptoe, he was seen returning to the Buddhist temple, at which those people said: “The temple has only one monk; where did this mendicant come from?” The next day they went to look, and saw that there were several chestnuts in the alms bowl held by the carved wood mendicant, and then they understood. This secret being revealed, he never again went out.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.225 (Tale 401):

泥行者買栗

龍泉無垢院泗州佛甚靈,每黃昏時,有行者將鉢盂錫杖,行歌於市,曰家化一文,人莫知其為何寺之行者。忽一夜,濟川橋頭有炒栗鋪賣,孤燈猶存,行者持鉢買栗。躡其後追之,見歸無垢,其人曰:「院只一僧,安有此行者?」次早往觀,見木乂行者鉢盂中有栗數枚,方知之。此機一泄,不復出矣。

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 Demon Mud-Baby 泥孩兒怪

In Lin’an it was customary that people enjoy themselves on the lake, and many buy one another Pingjiang mud-babies, often giving them to neighbouring households and calling them Local Specialty Statues. A woman from a Yuanxi household, because she had received one of these yabei children, set it up a bed and hung a screen of coloured silk from a cross-beam, playing with and treasuring it tirelessly. One day, while having an afternoon nap, she suddenly heard a person chanting poetry: “Embroidered bedding gives long years of service, passed from hand to hand; fragrant bed-curtains may be handed on in quick succession.” When she awoke, she couldn’t see anyone. That night, waking a little in the small hours, she again heard someone chant the same couplet. Woken with a start, in the dim moonlight she saw a teenager stepping through the screen from the west, and leapt up in alarm. It advanced and comforted her: “Don’t be frightened; I live not far from here, you have yearned for a child for such a long time, your soul and spirit have brought you to this. Do not wait, open the gates and enter.” She rose and saw that the door was closed just as before. The woman realised that he was a spirit, but could not resist combining with him. At times when the night was dark and the moon bright, that youth would sometimes come and go, having left her a gold ring. The woman had secretly placed it in a box, and after several days realised that it was actually just dirt; she was greatly shocked. Suddenly she saw that the gold ring was missing from the yabei child’s left upper arm, and knew that it was a demon, so she smashed it and threw the fragments in the river; the demon then vanished.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.232 (Tale 419):

泥孩兒怪

臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,相尚多買平江泥孩兒,仍與鄰家,謂之土宜像。院西有一民家女,因得壓被孩兒,歸置於牀屏綵橋之上,玩弄愛惜無厭。一日午睡,忽聞有人歌詩云:「繡被長年勞轉展,香幃還許暫偎隨。」及覺,不見有人。是夕,中夜睡微醒,復聞有歌前詩句。驚覺,月影朦朧,見一少年侵步帳西,女子驚起。進而撫之曰:「毋恐,我所居去此不遠,慕子之久,神魂到此,不待啟關而入。」起視扃鑰如故。女知其神,不得已與之合焉。正當風清月白之時,此子時復而來,因遺金環。女密投箱篋中,數日見金環實土為之,女心大驚。忽見壓被孩兒左臂上金環不存,知此為怪,遂碎而投諸河,其怪遂絕。

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 closely comparable tale is found in Tian Rucheng 田汝成, Xihu Youlan Zhi Yu 西湖遊覽志餘 (A Continued Record of Sightseeing at West Lake), (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Chubanshe, 1980), 26.477-78:

宋時,臨安風俗,嬉遊湖上者,競買泥孩、鸎歌花、湖船回家,分送鄰里,名曰湖上土宜。象院西一民家女,買得一壓被孩兒,歸置屛橋之上,玩弄不厭。一日午睡,忽聞有歌詩者云:『繡被 [478] 長年勞展轉,香幃還許暫偎隨。』及覺,不見有人。是夜將半,復聞歌聲,時月影朦朧,見一少年,漸近帳前,女子驚起,少年進撫之曰:『毋恐,我所居,去此不遠,慕子姿色,神魂到此,人無知者。』女亦愛其丰采,遂與合焉。因遺女金環,女密置箱篋。明日,啓篋視環,乃土造者。女大驚,忽見壓被孩兒左臂失去金環,遂碎之,其怪乃絶。