Chen Adeng 陳阿登

During the Han era, one Gou Zhangren, from Guiji, was returning from Dongye, but night fell before he reached his gate. He saw the light of a fire by a small cottage at the roadside, so went to seek lodging. When he arrived, he found a young girl, who was not willing to stay the night alone with a man, so called to a girl from a neighbouring family to keep her company. That night they plucked the konghou harp together, and sang:

Kudzu grows on along the vine,

Slow along and slow back down the cord.

If you wish to learn my name,

Surname Chen, first name Adeng.

The next day he arrived outside the east wall, where a woman was selling food at a stall. He sat on the customer stool and told her what he had seen the previous night. The woman was shocked, and told him: “That was my daughter. She only died recently, and was buried outside the walls.”

From Lingguaiji.

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, 316.2504:

陳阿登

漢會稽句章人。至東野還。暮不及門。見路傍小屋然火。因投宿。至。有一少女。不欲與丈夫共宿。呼鄰家女自伴。夜共彈箜篌。歌曰。連綿葛上藤。一緩復一絙。汝欲知我姓。姓陳名阿登。明至東郭外。有賣食母在肆中。此人寄坐。因說昨所見。母驚曰。此是我女。近亡。葬於郭外爾。出靈怪集

The Jiankang Musician 建康樂人

In Jiankang there was a musician. One evening he went to the market, and saw two drivers, who told him: “Assistant Judge Lu summons you.” He departed following them, and came to a large residence, furnished with great magnificence. There were more than ten guests in all, generously provided with wine. They were only served drinks, however, without any food. Moreover, the wine did not reach the musician. When dawn came all dispersed. The musician was extremely tired, so lay down on a bed outside the gates. When he awoke, he was out in the countryside, next to a large tomb. He asked the villagers about it, and was told: “Legend has it that this is the tomb of Assistant Judge Lu. It is not clear what era he lived in.”

From Jishenlu.

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), viii, 353.2798:

建康樂人

建康有樂人。日晚如市。見二僕夫云。陸判官召。隨之而去。至大宅。陳設甚嚴。賓客十餘人。皆善酒。惟飲酒而不設食。酒亦不及樂人。向曙而散。樂人困甚。因臥門外牀上。既寤。乃在草間。旁有大塚。問其里人。云。相傳陸判官之塚。不知何時人也。出稽神錄

A Qingzhou Traveller 青州客

During the Later Liang (907-23 CE), a traveller from Qingzhou encountered a gale while crossing the sea. Blown to a very distant place, when he looked into the distance he could make out mountains and rivers and a walled city. A veteran sailor told him: “We have been seized by the wind. I have never been here before, but have heard that the realm of the spirits is in these parts. Could this be it?” After a little while, their boat reached land, so he climbed onto the shore and set off towards the settlement. The houses and residences, fields and plots showed no difference from those of the Middle Realm. Whenever he saw people he bowed to them, but none of those people seemed to notice him. When he reached the town walls, there was a custodian at the gates. When bowed to, he likewise failed to respond. He entered the town, and all of the buildings and people were very dark in colour. When he reached the royal palace, a great banquet was taking place, with several dozen of the monarch’s attendants waiting on the feast. Their robes, hats, utensils, musical instruments and furnishings were diverse, but all of Chinese styles. Ke therefore ascended the hall, and approached close to the king’s seat in order to catch a glimpse of him. Suddenly, however, the king fell ill. His retinue held him up and withdrew him from the room, urgently summoning a shaman to make an examination. When the shaman arrived, he declared: “Someone has arrived from a yang region. Their yang energy presses on the people, and this is the cause of the monarch’s illness. They came here inadvertently, without intending to haunt us. They should be sent away thankfully, with food, drink, carts and horses. This is appropriate.” They then supplied wine and a meal, laying out seats in another chamber. The shaman gathered the group of ministers, and all made prayers and offerings, and Ke ate accordingly. Shortly after, a coachman arrived driving horses. [2796] Ke then mounted a horse and returned, arriving at the shore and boarding the ship, the people of that realm never once having caught sight of him. They caught a favourable wind once more, and managed to return home. At that time He Dejian was military governor of Qingzhou, and was close to Weibo’s military governor Yang Shihou, so sent this Ke to serve Wei. He told Shihou his tale, and Fan Xuangu from Wei heard it in person and informed your servant.

From Jishenlu.

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), viii, 353.2795-96:

青州客

朱梁時。青州有賈客泛海遇風。飄至一處。遠望有山川城郭。海師曰。自頃遭風者。未嘗至此。吾聞鬼國在是。得非此耶。頃之。舟至岸。因登岸。向城而去。其廬舍田畝。不殊中國。見人皆揖之。而人皆不見已。至城。有守門者。揖之。亦不應。入城。屋室人物甚殷。遂至王宮。正值大宴。君臣侍宴者數十。其衣冠器用絲竹陳設之類。多類中國。客因升殿。俯逼王坐以窺之。俄而王有疾。左右扶還。亟召巫者視之。巫至。有陽地人至此。陽氣逼人。故王病。其人偶來爾。無心為祟。以飲食車馬謝遣之。可矣。即具酒食。設座於別室。巫及其羣臣。皆來祀祝。客據按而食。俄有僕夫馭馬而至。 [2796] 客亦乘馬而歸。至岸登舟。國人竟不見己。復遇便風得歸。時賀德儉為青州節度。與魏博節度楊師厚有親。因遣此客使魏。其為師厚言之。魏人范宣古。親聞其事。為余言。出稽神錄

You Shizi 游氏子

In the northern corner of Xudu’s western district there stood the residence of General Zhao. After the patriarch’s passing, his descendants had scattered. The place then became inauspicious, and nobody dared live there. A close friend of theirs then posted a notice on the village gates, reading: ‘If someone dares reside there, they may consider it a gift.’ At the beginning of the Qianfu era (874-80 CE), there came along one You Shizi, fierce and stubborn by nature, braver and quicker than most. On seeing the notice, he said: “Your humble servant is a brave warrior. Even if there are strange demons and weird spirits, I’ll certainly control them.” It was then the height of summer, and, when night fell, he took up his sword and entered. The house was deep and silent, and the entrance hall long and broad. You Shizi laid out his mat in the courtyard, arranged his summer robe and sat. When the end of the first watch had been sounded, all was silent, and there had been no alarms. You Shizi grew weary, so he used his sword as a pillow and lay down facing the hall.

Just as the half watch was about to sound, he suddenly heard a ga-ya sound as the rear gate opened. Candles were lit in even lines, and several dozen servants sprinkled water and swept the hall, opening the high windows, stretching out the scarlet curtains and embroidered drapes, laying out seating mats and precious objects. Strange and rare fragrances wafted among the eaves and pillars. You’s heart told him that these were only minor spirits, and he did not yet feel moved to use force against them. He waited to watch them through to the finish. After a short while, they took up musical instruments, and several dozen people dressed in red and purple ascended the stairs from the eastern wing. Several dozen singers and dancers emerged from behind the hall and entered through the front. Those in the purple robes remained [2786] in front, and people in red, green and white clothing formed a second layer. A further twenty or more people talked and laughed together happily, bowing to one another and sitting down. At this strings and pipes struck up together, glasses were raised and toasts shared as the dancers moved in unison.

You Shizi wanted to charge forward and seize their ringleader. He was about to get up when he felt something pressing down between his thighs. It was cold and it was heavy, and he simply could not rise. He wanted to shout out, but his mouth trembled, unable to make a sound, so he watched the happy celebrations continue on until a loud, loud drum sounded. At this the sitting mats dispersed, the lights and fires were all doused, and all was as still as it had first been. You Shizi was bathed in sweat, his heart racing, as he crawled prostrate to the exit. Only long after reaching the gate could he speak once more. In the end nobody dared to live in the house.

From Sanshui xiaodu.

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), viii, 352.2785-86

游氏子

許都城西之北陬。有趙將軍宅。主父既沒。子孫流移。其處遂凶。莫敢居者。親近乃牓於里門曰。有居得者。便相奉。乾符初。許有游氏子者。性剛悍。拳捷過人。見牓曰。僕猛士也。縱奇妖異鬼。必有以制之。時盛夏。既夕。携劍而入。室宇深邃。前庭廣袤。游氏子設簟庭中。絺綌而坐。一鼓盡。聞寂無驚。游氏子倦。乃枕劍面堂而臥。再鼓將半。忽聞軋然開後門聲。蠟炬齊列。有役夫數十。於堂中洒掃。闢前軒。張朱簾繡幕。陳筵席寶器。異香馥於簷楹。游子心謂此小魅耳。未欲迫之。將觀其終。少頃。執樂器。紆朱紫者數十輩。自東廂升階。歌舞妓數十輩自後堂出。入於前堂。紫衣者居 [2786] 前。朱綠衣白衣者次之。亦二十許人。言笑自若。揖讓而坐。於是絲竹合奏。飛觴舉白。歌舞間作。游氏子欲前突。擒其渠魁。將起。乃覺髀間為物所壓。冷且重。不能興。欲大叫。口哆而不能聲。但觀堂上歡洽。直至嚴鼓。席方散。燈火既滅。寂爾如初。游氏子駭汗心悸。匍伏而出。至里門。良久方能語。其宅後卒無敢居者。出三水小牘

Hu Daoqia 胡道洽

Hu Daoqia described himself as a man of Guangling. He enjoyed matters of music and the medical arts. His body had a foul smell, and he always used a famous fragrance to guard against it. His only fear was of vicious dogs, and he knew the date of his own death, warning his younger brother and his son: “When my breath stops bury me quickly. Do not allow dogs to see my corpse.” He died in Shanyang, but when burial preparations were complete, the coffin felt empty, and when it was opened to check, there was no sign of a body. People at the time all said he was a fox. From Yiyuan.

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), ix, 447.3656:

胡道洽

胡道洽。自云廣陵人。好音樂醫術之事。題有臊氣。恒以名香自防。唯忌猛犬。自審死日。戒弟子曰。氣絕便殯。勿令狗見我尸也。死于山陽。斂畢。覺棺空。即開看。不見尸體。時人咸謂狐也。出異苑

Li Yuangong 李元恭

*Translation revised with the generous help of Ofer Waldman – thanks Ofer!*

The Tang-era Vice-President of the Ministry of Personnel Li Yuangong[1] had a granddaughter, a Miss Cui, peaceful of countenance and extremely beautiful, fifteen or sixteen years old, who was suddenly afflicted by a demonic illness. When this had lasted for a long time, the fox manifested itself as a young man, calling himself ‘Gentleman Hu’; they repeatedly sought scholars of magic, but were unable to make it go away. Yuangong’s son possessed a broad education and great wisdom, and often asked: “Does Gentleman Hu also possess learning or not?” And so the fox engaged in discussions, missing not a single topic. He employed many questions to probe the fox, who tended to be closely acquainted with music. After a long time of this, he addressed Miss Cui, saying: “Nobody should remain without education.” He therefore brought an elderly man to teach Miss Cui Classics and History, and over three years she acquired a degree of expertise [204] in the cardinal principles of the various schools. He also brought a person to teach her calligraphy, and, after a single year, she came to be considered an expert calligrapher. He also said: “How can a married woman not have studied music? The konghou and pipa, though present in all music, are not so suitable as study of the qin.” He further summoned another person, saying that he was skilled at playing the qin, and stating that his surname was Hu, and that he was a scholar of Yangdi County in the Sui era. He taught her all the various tunes, preparing her fully in their subtleties, and she was quite unsurpassed on other famous songs. As to himself he claimed: “I am skilled at Guanglingsan,[2] which many encounters with Ji Zhong San[3] did not get him to teach it to other men.” He was also especially good at transmitting the wonders of Wuyeti.[4] Li later asked: “Why does Gentleman Hu not marry and return home?” The fox was extremely pleased, bowing again in thanks and saying: “I have long cherished this, too, but have not dared, purely due to being a pleb” That day, he bowed over and over to the family, leaping about in the utmost joy. Li asked: “Mr Hu wishes to return home with his wife; where is his residence?” The fox said: “Before the residence there are two large bamboos.” At that time the Li residence had a bamboo garden, and Li, going to search around there, found a small hole between two of the great trees; it turned out to be a fox’s lair, drawing water to fill it. At first they captured a badger, a raccoon dog, and several dozen small foxes. Eventually an elderly fox, wearing an unlined green robe, followed them out of the hole; it was the same robe he was always wearing. The family spoke joyfully: “Now Mr Hu has emerged!” They killed him, and the strange events stopped.
From Guangyiji 廣異記 (Extensive Records of the Strange)

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), ix, 449.3671-72:

李元恭
唐吏部侍郎李元恭。其外孫女崔氏。容色殊麗。年十五六。忽得魅疾。久之。狐遂見形為少年。自稱 [3672] 胡郎。累求術士不能去。元恭子博學多智。常問胡郎亦學否。狐乃談論。無所不至。多質疑于狐。頗狎樂。久之。謂崔氏曰。人生不可不學。乃引一老人授崔經史。前後三載。頗通諸家大義。又引一人。教之書。涉一載。又以工書著稱。又云。婦人何不會音聲。箜篌琵琶。此故凡樂。不如學琴。復引一人至。云善彈琴。言姓胡。是隋時陽翟縣博士。悉教諸曲。備盡其妙。及他名曲。不可勝紀。自云亦善廣陵散。比屢見嵇中散。不使授人。其于烏夜啼。尤善傳其妙。李後問。胡郎何以不迎婦歸家。狐甚喜。便拜謝云。亦久懷之。所不敢者。以人微故爾。是日遍拜家人。歡躍備至。李問胡郎欲迎女子。宅在何所。狐云。某舍門前有二大竹。時李氏家有竹園。李因尋行所。見二大竹間有一小孔。竟是狐窟。引水灌之。初得猯狢及他狐數十枚。最後有一老狐。衣綠衫。從孔中出。是其素所著衫也。家人喜云。胡郎出矣。殺之。其怪遂絕。出《廣異記》

The version found in Guangyiji is essentially identical; here is the Chinese text, from the combined volume Tang Lin 唐臨; Dai Fu 戴孚, Mingbaoji; Guangyiji 冥報記 / 廣異記 (Records of Netherworld Vengeance / Extensive Records of The Strange) (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1992), pp. 203-4:

李元恭

唐吏部侍郎李元恭,其外孫女崔氏,容色殊麗,年十五六,忽得魅疾。久之,狐遂見形為少年,自稱胡郎,累求術士不能去。元恭子博學多智,常問:「胡郎亦學否?」狐乃談論,無所不至,多質疑于狐,頗狎樂。久之,謂崔氏曰:「人生不可不學。」乃引一老人授崔經史,前後三載,頗通 [204] 諸家大義。又引一人教之書,涉一載,又以工書著稱。又云:「婦人何不會音聲,箜篌琵琶,此故凡樂,不如學琴。」復引一人至,云善彈琴,言姓胡,是隋時陽翟縣博士。悉教諸曲,備盡其妙,及他名曲,不可勝紀。自云:「亦善《廣陵散》,比屢見嵇中散,不使授人。」其于《烏夜啼》尤善,傳其妙。李後問:「胡郎何以不迎婦歸家?」狐甚喜,便拜謝云:「亦久懷之,所不敢者,以人微故爾。」是日,遍拜家人,歡躍備至。李問:「胡郎欲迎女子,宅在何所?」狐云:「某舍門前有二大竹。」時李氏家有竹園,李因尋行所,見二大竹間有一小孔,竟是狐窟,引水灌之。初得猯狢及他狐數十枚,最後有一老狐,衣綠衫,從孔中出,是其素所著衫也。家人喜云:「胡郎出矣!」殺之,其怪遂絕。

[1] On Li Yuangong 李元恭 (d. c. 702 CE), see CBDB Person ID 0195948.

[2] On this piece of music, see https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B9%BF%E9%99%B5%E6%95%A3.

[3] This refers to Ji Kang嵆康 courtesy name Shuye 叔夜 (223-62 CE), an acclaimed scholar and qin player. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ji_Kang.

[4] On this piece of music, see https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B9%8C%E5%A4%9C%E5%95%BC.

A Camphor Spirit Bewitches People 樟精惑人

In winter, the jiaxu year of the Xianchun era (1274), two men offered paper money at the third bridge in Hangzhou, inviting travelling entertainers to wait upon them, saying that it was for a Governor Zhang’s wedding, and also stipulating in advance that they must not play melodies in the Golden Goblet Palace mode. The entertainers asked: “In what place?” They said: “On the border of Wuxi County in Jiangyin.” The entertainers asked: “When does the even take place?” They said: “Tonight.” The entertainers said: “That is more than five hundred li away; it is already evening. How can we get there?” The reply came: “You all lie in the boat; we will push it along.” The group all followed this instruction, and the boat sped along as if it were flying. They passed through Chang’an, Chongde, Suxiu and Wujiang, and around the second watch (9-11pm), they went ashore at a large mansion. The entertainers struck up their music as arranged, and saw that the seated guests were all small and short, the lamps burning with green flames, and soon it became dim and dark. On reaching the fourth watch (1-3am), there was no food or drink; people became hungry and annoyed, so they played in the Golden Goblet Palace mode. The seated guests and wine servers became very alarmed, and some tried to stop them, but the musicians would not listen. Suddenly there was a gust of black wind, people and room all vanished, and instead they saw a great tree filling the starry heavens. Following the barking of a dog the musicians took refuge in a nearby house and asked the people about it. They replied: “There is a camphor tree spirit here that can delude people. You have been bewitched!” The next morning there was indeed a huge camphor there. The two men were therefore the two messengers of the temple close to the tree, and the rest were temple spirits.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.262 (Tale 475):

樟精惑人

咸淳甲戌冬,有二男子齎官會於杭州三橋,請路歧人祗應,云是張府姻事,先議定不許用黃鍾宮曲調。路歧人曰:「在何處?」曰:「在江陰無錫縣界。」 路歧人曰:「事在幾時?」曰:「在今夜。」路歧人曰:「此間相去五百餘里,又日暮,如何可到?」應曰:「汝等皆卧舟中,我自撐去。」衆從之,舟行如飛。經長安、崇德、蘇秀、吳江,約二更,上岸至一大府第,路歧人如約奏樂,見坐客行酒人皆短小,燈燭焰青,既而幽暗。至四更無飲饌,人飢且怒,因奏黃鍾宮。坐客與行酒人皆驚,亦有止之者。樂人不顧。須臾黑風一陣,人與屋俱亡,但見一大樹滿天星宿。因犬吠,投人家問之,人曰:「此間有樟樹精,能惑人,汝被惑矣!」 天明,果一大樟樹也。二男子乃樹近廟中二使,其餘皆其廟神也。

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 Spirit Rebukes A Musician 神譴樂人

The Dongyue Temple in Fenggao County was very austere, and observed an annual custom on the twenty-eighth day of the third month, where the townsfolk celebrated the birthday of the Yue Emperor. The old custom was to offer wine, and at the fourth cup to play the [225] tune ‘Ten Thousand Years of Joy’. In the Zhiyuan era (1264-94), the wuyin year (1278), the musician Wan Shou thought that, because that year’s harvest had failed, there would not be anyone to take charge of the affair, and also no offerings, so only played a popular tune in the mournful shang mode. Wan Shou later dreamed that he was escorted by yellow-robed clerks to a place below the hall of the True Lord Qingyuan at the Yue Temple, and the True Lord asked: “Yesterday, on the birthday of the Yue Emperor, wine was offered; why, on the fourth cup, did you just play some kind of popular ditty?” Wan Shou could not find a single word to respond. The True Lord spoke in judgement: “The sentence is: twenty canes across the back, three successive years of illness, banishment across the sea to be incarcerated in the demon cave.” The next day an abcess opened on his back, as big as a bowl in size. It persisted for three years, after which he died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.224-25 (Tale 400):

神譴樂人

奉高縣東嶽廟甚嚴,年例以三月二十八日,市民慶賀岳帝壽辰。舊例酌獻,第四盞例是樂 [225] 奏《萬年歡》。至元戊寅,樂人萬壽心思是年荒歉,既無人主事,又無祗待,遂只奏商調小曲。後萬壽夢被黃衣吏攝至岳廟清源真君殿下,真君問曰:「前日嶽帝生日酌獻,你如何第四盞只奏小曲?」萬壽竟無辭以應。真君判云: 「決脊杖二十,連病三年,押赴海外鬼洞收管。」次日果背發一疽,其大如碗,連綿三歲而死。

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).

Ghosts Play Music 鬼動絲竹

Zhao [?]Efu was Deputy Magistrate in Tanzhou, and had been in the post for two months. One evening, returning from a drinking engagement with colleagues, at midnight he heard the sound of strings and woodwind coming from the next wall; Zhao wondered at this, and questioned his retinue, who answered: “Next door is an old residence with courtyard and garden; whenever it is rainy and overcast music and drums start up together, but it is not music of this world.” Once, not long after, Chong, one of Zhao’s deputies, had died suddenly, and when they were about to collect his coffin Chong’s corpse suddenly leapt up and sat, [?]stiffening its feet[?], and sticking out its tongue three or four cun (roughly inches), it then bit down, and blood flowing freely, suddenly fell on its back and [?]expired[?]. Outside the hall the music sounded even more clear and resonant than before. It was then they realised that these were ghosts of those dying suddenly.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.238 (Tale 429):

鬼動絲竹

趙通判[王+葛]夫倅潭州,在任兩月。一夕,同僚會飲歸,夜半聞隔牆有管絃絲竹之聲,趙怪之,問左右,乃曰:「隔牆乃是舊宅院花園,凡遇陰雨,鼓樂交作,非陽世之音樂也。」曾不踰時,趙倅一寵暴亡,臨斂棺時,寵屍忽躍起而坐,札腳,吐舌長三四寸,咬血淋漓,須臾偃逝,庭外絲竹之音響亮非常比。時乃知皆此暴亡之鬼也。

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).

Squeezing the Souls of Dancers and Musicians 掩魂妓樂

In Nanhai Prefecture there was one surnamed Yang, who called himself a retired scholar, and once told people: “I have skill in magic.” The prefectural chief was keen on sorcery, and was delighted to hear of the retired scholar’s arrival. He never held a banquet or a tour without first summoning the gentleman. One day, because he had to wait on the prefectural chief, the latter was holding a feast in the prefectural hall, there was a great review of dancers and musicians, but the retired scholar was unable to take part. At that time a number of other guests were also unable to join the feast, so they spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman once claimed magical skill. Today the prefectural chief is holding a great feast and the gentleman is not invited; can a magical act move him?” The scholar laughed and said: “This is extremely easy. I can summon the prefectural chief for the gentleman to bring dancers and music and pour your drinks!” He therefore ordered the provision of wine, and had the various guests get into a circle and sit. After a little while, several dozen women emerged from an empty chamber in the western corridor, jewelled and clothed in lustre and brilliance. Each carried a musical instrument, and on his order they played and began to sing and dance. Some of the guests asked where they had come from, but they all just laughed without speaking. When midnight came, the gentleman addressed the dancers, saying: “You may return.” At this they all departed downwards through the empty room in the western corridor. The [86] guests looked at each other in astonished admiration, and suspected that they were some kind of spirits or goblins. Until the next day one after another passed around the rumour, saying that the prefectural chief held a feast last night, and all the musicians fell to the ground, their eyes blinking but unable to speak, as if they’d suffered strokes. A physician was hurriedly summoned to treat them, and said: “They are in good health, but their immortal souls are being squeezed; at midnight they will be able to rise, and will not require medicine.” Indeed, when midnight came, the musicians awoke as if from sleep, and all were able to rise and stand. When the prefectural chief questioned them, the musicians all said: “We suffered deceit and followed Scholar Yang’s respectful summons; why is he not at the Prefectural Chief’s banquet?” The throng of guests marvelled at this, and questioned Scholar Yang, but he just smiled and refused to answer. They then realized that the dancers’ souls had been squeezed by Scholar Yang.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.85-86 (Tale 148):

掩魂妓樂

南海郡有楊氏,以居士自號,嘗謂人曰:「我有奇術。」郡太守好奇術,聞居士來,甚喜。每宴遊未嘗不首召居士。一日因須侍太守,太守會宴於郡齋,大閱妓樂,而居士不得預。時有數客亦皆不得預宴,因謂居士曰:「先生嘗自負有奇術,今日太守大宴,先生不得預,設一術以動之乎?」居士笑曰:「甚易耳。君試觀之,我能為君召太守處妓樂至此佐酒乎!」因命具酒,使諸客環列而坐。少頃,俄有數十婦人自西廊空室而出,裝飾華煥,各攜樂器而至,乃命奏樂,且歌且舞。客或訊其所自,皆笑而不言。至夜分,居士謂諸妓曰:「可歸矣。」於是皆入西廊下空室中去。諸 [86] 客相顧駭歎,皆疑其鬼物妖惑。至明日鬨傳曰:太守昨夕宴會,諸妓樂並皆仆地,瞬目不能言,以為卒中,急召醫人診候,醫曰:「無恙,但為人掩魂,夜分各能起,不必服藥。」果至中宵,諸妓如睡之醒,皆能起立。太守質問,諸妓皆云:「適蒙楊居士召祗應,須(「須」,疑為「頃」之誤。)緣何卻在太守筵中?」衆客為怪,詰之楊居士,居士笑而不答,方知諸妓為楊居士掩魂矣。

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 parallel tale is found in the tenth-century collection Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Era of Great Harmony), and as usual this is substantially more detailed than our Huhai version:

Retired Scholar Yang 楊居士

In Hainan Prefecture there was a Scholar Yang. His given name has been forgotten. He referred to himself as Retired Scholar Yang, and often wandered around the various Nanhai prefectures, frequently lodging as a guest with other people, and it is not known where he stopped. He told people: “I have strange talents; you people are mediocre, and could never achieve such knowledge.” Afterwards he often visited the prefecture, meeting the prefectural chief, who was very inquisitive. On hearing that the scholar had arrived, he was delighted and rewarded him generously, ordering that he be brought drink. He never held a banquet without summoning the scholar, and the scholar became very conceited. One day, drunk, he offended the prefectural chief in a way the chief could not tolerate.

Later, there was a feast in the prefectural chamber, with a review of musicians and performers, but the scholar was not invited. There were several other guests who had not received summons from the prefectural chief, and they therefore spoke to the scholar: “The gentleman was once conceited about his hocus-pocus; your humble servant looked up to you for advice but you had no time for me. Meeting you one day like this is truly fortunate. Nonetheless, today we hear that the prefectural chief is holding a banquet in the prefectural chamber, but the gentleman has not been invited to join it. If the gentleman cannot change this through an act of magic, then he must not possess such strange arts.” The scholar laughed and said: “This is just the least of my skill. You gentlemen should watch me, and I will summon his dancers for you; we should bring out some drinks.” They all said they wished this to happen, so the scholar ordered that wine be brought and directed the guests to set out their mats in a circle and sit.

He next ordered a boy to close up a small chamber in the western wing. He left the door closed for a while before opening it, at which three or four beautiful people came down, decked out with a gorgeous magnificence, and came towards them bearing instruments. The scholar said: “How is your servant’s art now?” The guests all marveled at this and could not work out what was happening. He told them to sit down and indicated that the music be started. Some of the guests questioned him about his art, but he just smiled and would not answer. Eventually it grew dark and midnight came, at which the scholar told all the musicians: “You should now return.” At this they all rose and returned down through the empty western chamber. The guests looked at one another and exclaimed in admiration, but still suspected that it was a matter of demonic conjuring.

The next day, a clerk in the prefecture said: “The prefectural chief held a feast last night in the prefectural offices. [469] When the musicians were seated and arranged, they suddenly fell to the ground without explanation. In a moment, a violent storm arose, blowing away their instruments and disappearing. When midnight came, the players all awoke, and their instruments returned to their former places. When the prefectural chief questioned the musicians, they all said that it had gone dark and they had been unable to see anything. In the end they could not work out what had caused it, and the guests were all greatly shocked and therefore everyone talked about the matter. Someone told the prefectural chief, who gasped with astonishment and sent for him. He did not dare stay in the prefecture. This all took place at the beginning of the Kaicheng era (836-41 CE). This was taken from Xuanshi zhi 宣室志.[1]

楊居士

海南(明鈔本海南作南海。)郡有楊居士。亡其名。以居士自目。往往遊南海枝郡。常寄食於人。亦不知其所止。謂人曰。我有奇術。汝輩庸人。固不得而識矣。後常至郡。會太守好奇者。聞居士來。甚喜。且厚其禮。命飲之。每宴遊。未嘗不首召居士。居士亦以此自負。一日使酒忤太守。太守不能容。後又會宴於郡室。閱妓樂。而居士不得預。時有數客。亦不在太守召中。因謂居士曰。先生嘗自負有奇術。某向者仰望之不暇。一日遇先生於此。誠幸矣。雖然。今聞太守大宴客於郡齋。而先生不得預其間。即不能設一奇術以動之乎。必先生果無奇術耶。居士笑曰。此末術耳。君試觀我。我為君召其妓。可以佐酒。皆曰。願為之。居士因命具酒。使諸客環席而坐。又命小童閉西廡空室。久之乃啟之。有三四美人自廡下來。裝飾華煥。擕樂而至。居士曰。某之術何如。諸客人大異之。殆不可測。乃命列坐。奏樂且歌。客或訊其術。居士但笑而不答。時昏晦。至夜分。居士謂諸妓曰。可歸矣。于是皆起。入西廡下空室中。客相目駭歎。然尚疑其鬼物妖惑。明日。有郡中吏曰。太守昨夕宴郡閤。 [469] 妓樂列坐。無何皆仆地。瞬息暴風起。飄其樂器而去。迨至夜分。諸妓方寤。樂器亦歸于舊所。太守質問衆妓。皆云黑無所見。竟不窮其由。諸客皆大驚。因盡以事對。或告於太守。太守歎異。即謝而遣之。不敢留于郡中。時開成初也。出《宣室志》

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, 75.468-69

[1] This is a ten-juan collection by Zhang Du 張讀, who passed his civil service examination in 852 CE. See Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 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); Fletcher Coleman, ‘On the Role of Religion in Tang Tales: An Introduction to Zhang Du’s Xuanshi zhi’ (2013), Asian Languages & Civilizations Graduate Theses & Dissertations, 9 (https://scholar.colorado.edu/asia_gradetds/9, accessed 23/04/18).