Envy Harms Pregnancies 妒害胎孕

Wu Jieran came from Huangxi. His wife was fiercely jealous, and had had no children. His four concubines all became pregnant, and his wife, envious, dosed them with poison, leaving them infertile. The four concubines having married, their wombs were afflicted by the poison, and all were left without children. One evening, Wu saw a deity in his dream, who said: “Your wife has excessive envy in her heart. She has now harmed four concubines and left them childless. You have a son, and he too will therefore have a shortened life, and will preside over a lineage without descendants.” Afterwards Jieran did indeed have a son, but died that very day. The Wu lineage was then severed, alas.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 164):

妒害胎孕

吳介然,黃溪人。妻妒悍,無子。有四妾皆孕,妻妒忌,投毒藥之,率皆不育。其四妾適人,胎宮為藥毒,亦皆無子。一夕,吳夢一神人曰:「爾妻妒心太過,今誤四妾無子。爾有一子,亦因而促壽,將亦主絕嗣。」後介然有一子,果天喪,吳家亦為之絕,哀哉!

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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Instigating Lawsuits 教唆詞訟

The father of Wen Guangzan, from youth to old age, was tangled in successive lawsuits every single year. When he asked Master Tan Xiangshan about karmic causes, he replied: “Your father was a writer of suits and complaints in a previous life; this is the retribution ordered for him.” Guangzan implored him for salvation with a prayer session. The Master instructed him to make shackles by sticking paper to lengths of bamboo and ordered him to first imprison himself, and after three days express his repentance. Should those among the present generation who instigate lawsuits be forgiven so simply? This should be taken as a warning, and they should wake up to this truth.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.103 (Tale 177):

教唆詞訟

文光讚父,自少至老,每歲獄訟連緜。以宿因問曇相禪師,曰:「汝父前生本寫詞狀人,故令反受其報。」光讚懇求禳度。師教以紙黏竹簟為桎梏,令先自囚,三日後為懺悔。今之世有教唆興訟者,寧免乎此?姑錄為戒,宜猛省焉。

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).

Seizing A Graveyard 占人陰地

In the yimao year of the Song Baoyou era (1255), in Ezhou there was a powerful family that seized someone else’s graveyard for their burial. When the day dawned to carry the coffin, they first ordered an agent to take a group of people ahead to the destination and sort out the lunch. They had just arrived when the agent was struck by lightning, and they buried his body before the new grave, with only his two feet exposed. The powerful family’s coffin was also split apart by a lightning strike when halfway there, and the body could not but be exposed. Some said that the agent must have made the suggestion, and therefore was punished first.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.102 (Tale 176):

占人陰地

宋寶祐乙卯,鄂州有勢家,強占他人陰地為墳。及舉柩之旦,先令牙人帶一行人,先往地頭營辦午食,才到,其牙人忽為雷所擊,仍倒埋其尸於新墳之前,止露兩足。勢家之柩,中途亦為雷劈開,未免暴露。或者謂此牙郎建其議,故先受其禍耳。

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 Magic Monk Boils The Seas 幻僧煮海

Heavenly Master Ye, whose taboo name was Fashan, was descended from a family dedicated to Daoism, all of whom practiced secret arts of hidden merit and helping people, subduing demons by summoning practices to save people and things. Initially the master lived for several years to the east of Mount Tiantai, below Siming, but it happened that on the first day of the fifth moon an elderly man came to him, weeping and wailing and asking for relief from an illness. The master received and questioned him, and he said: “Your humble visitor is the dragon of the eastern sea; the Heavenly Emperor decreed that the holder of the treasure of the eight seas should change their role every thousand years, and those without fault would rise up to the level of immortals. Your humble servant was already 970 years old, and only the tiniest step from success. There was a Brahman who, flaunting his magical skills, lived atop a mountain peak amid the sea, and made incantations without pause whether day or night, amassing over thirty years. As his power neared completion, the seawater turned into clouds, rising to cover half the heavens, and by the fifth day of the fifth moon, the ocean was almost used up! Gathering the treasure of the heavenly garrisons of the sea, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that the spiritual beings must be taken by the magic monk, and so to this day we beg that you come to our rescue with the imperial seal.” When the master flew to rescue them with the imperial order, the waters of the eastern sea were as they had been, and the northern monk was left ashamed of his inferiority and gasping in admiration; he plunged into the ocean and died. The next day the imperial carriage came with rare treasures in recompense, but the master declined these and would not accept anything. Moreover, he said that, among the woods and the wilds, in those places of contemplation and discipline, it was not only such precious treasures that were not thought valuable, but other things also were not to be taken. He therefore addressed the dragon: “On top of this stone cliff, so far from water, I would request only a clear spring of water as a kindness.” That night he heard the sound of wind and rain. When dawn came, running around the four sides of the mountain chamber there grew up a stone channel, with spring water cascading along it, unending even in winter; this is now known as the Heavenly Master Channel.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.90 (Tale 154):

幻僧煮海

葉天師諱法善,家世好修道,皆以陰功密行及劾召之術救物濟人。初師居四明之下天台之東數年,忽於五月一日,有老叟詣問,號泣求救,謂其有疾也。師引而問之,曰:「某東海龍也,大帝有敕,主八海之寶,一千年一更其任,無過者起證仙品。某已九百七十年,微績垂成。有婆羅門逞其幻法,住於海峰,晝夜禁咒,積三十年,其法將成,海水如雲,起在半天,五月五日,海將竭矣!統天鎮海之寶,上帝制靈之物,必為幻僧取,至日乞以丹符相救。」至期,師敕符飛往救,東海水仍舊,胡僧愧歎,赴海而死。明日龍輦寶貨珍奇來謝報,師卻之不受,且曰:林野之中,棲神之所,非惟珠璣寶貨不以為意,而他物皆一無所取。因謂龍曰:「此崖石之上,去水且遠,但致一清泉即為惠也。」是夕聞風雨之聲。及明,繞山齋四面,成一道石渠,泉水流注,經冬不竭,是今謂之天師渠。

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 ‘Horse-Headed Maiden’ 馬頭娘子

Long ago in Shu lived the Can Cong Emperor. Also, in the time of the Gao Xin Emperor, there lived a Lady Can; her family name is not known. When her father was robbed by some people, leaving only the horse on which she rode, she felt for her father and his inability to find food. Her mother therefore made an oath before the multitude: “If someone returns her father, they will be married to this girl.” The horse, hearing this speech, leapt up in alarm and shook itself with great haste, snapping its hobble and setting off. After several days the father was then able to ride back on the horse. From then on the horse neighed and neighed and would not accept the bit. The girl’s mother told her father about her oath, and he said: “Oaths to people are not promises to horses. How can a person be married to a different species? Having been able to solve our difficulties, its merit is indeed great, but the words of this oath cannot be put into practice.” The horse then bolted. The father grew angry and wanted to kill it, and when it ran further away, he shot it dead, drying its skin in the courtyard. The skin then kicked itself upright, wrapping up the girl and flying away. For ten nights the skin perched up a mulberry tree, and the girl transformed into a silkworm, eating mulberry leaves, making silk cocoons for human clothes and bedding. One day, the silkworm girl climbed the clouds and rose the horse, addressing her parents: “The Most High, because I did not neglect righteousness in either body or soul, has appointed me immortal attendant to the Nine Palaces. There is no return, but I will always cherish your memory.” It is customary in Shu that all Daoist temples sculpt a female figure draped in a horse skin, calling it the ‘Horse-head Maiden’, as a way of making offerings for silk production.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.76 (Tale 133):

馬頭娘子

蜀之先有蠶叢帝。又高辛時蜀有蠶女,不知姓氏,父為人所掠,惟所乘馬在。女念父不食。其母因誓於衆曰:「有得父還者,以此女嫁之。」馬聞其言,驚躍振迅,絕其物絆而去,數日父乃乘馬而歸。自此馬嘶鳴不肯齕。母以誓衆之言告父,父曰:「誓於人不誓於馬,安有人而偶非類乎?能脫我之難,功亦大矣!【所誓之言,不可行也。】(上八字據元刻本補。)」馬跑,父怒欲殺之,馬愈跑,父射殺之,曝其皮於庭。皮蹶然而起,卷女飛去。旬日皮寢棲於桑上,女化為蠶,食桑葉,吐絲成繭,以衣被於人間。一日,蠶女乘雲駕此馬,謂父母曰:「太上以我身心不忘義,授以九宮(「宮」原作「公」,據元刻本改。)仙嬪矣,無復憶念也。」蜀之風俗,宮觀諸處塑女像披馬皮,謂之「馬頭娘」,以祈蠶焉。

 

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).

This tale again involves the line between human and animal natures. The somewhat incoherent state of the Huhai telling, especially when compared to the Soushenji version, is notable. So is the Huhai version’s shift of responsibility and sympathy between parents (including the addition of the mother) and daughter. The more coherent, much earlier version in the Soushenji (abbreviated slightly- the last section of cross-references to horses and silk is omitted):

Gan Bao, Kenneth J. DeWoskin and J.L. Crump, Jr. (trans), In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 165-66:

Horse into Silkworm (14,350)

There is an old story which tells that in ancient times a man went on a long journey leaving no one at home save his daughter and a stallion which she had reared herself. Living in straitened circumstances and in a secluded place, she missed her father so much that she said to the stallion in jest: “If you find my father and bring him back for me, I’ll marry you!”

Immediately on hearing these words, that horse broke its tether and galloped off to where her father was. When the latter saw the horse, he was surprised and pleased and took him by the halter to mount him. The horse kept gazing back in the direction from whence he had come, whinnying in distress.

“Nothing has happened to this horse to make him behave so strangely. I wonder if things are not well at home?”

With that he mounted in haste and rode back. He began to take special care of the horse, which had shown such intelligence; he offered it extra fodder, which the horse refused to eat. However, every time the stallion saw the man’s daughter moving about, it would become excited and animated and rear and paw the earth. This happened many times and made the man so curious that he questioned his daughter in secret. She told him what she had said to the horse, adding, “This must be the reason.”

“Never speak of it again,” cried he, “for it will bring shame upon our family!” And you had best not go on and out as you were wont to do.” So saying, he secretly took his crossbow, slew the beast, skinned it, and hung the hide in his courtyard.

When he went a-journeying again, his daughter and a neighbor girl were playing with the hide. The daughter kicked it, crying, “You were nothing but a beast of burden, yet you thought to wed a human! You brought this death upon yourself, so you should feel no resentment!”

As she spoke, the hide rose up, wrapped itself around the daughter and galloped off. The neighbor girl was so frightened she could not lift a hand to help her friend, but fled and told the girl’s father. He returned to seek traces of the pair, but they had already disappeared.

[166]

After several days the girl and the horsehide were found bound together among the limbs of a tree where they had become a silkworm spinning itself a cocoon. This cocoon was large in diameter and length– very different from the ordinary kind. The women of the neighborhood gathered this kind of chrysalis and reared the worms to gain many times the profit they turned before.

Because of this story, people named the tree on which the girl and the horsehide were found, the sang tree [mulberry] because sang means lost. Everyone now cultivates this kind of tree, and the silkworm of today is descended from that first ancient cocoon.

Gan Bao 干寶, Soushenji 搜神記 (In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979), 14.172-73 (350):

舊說,太古之時,有大人遠征,家無餘人,唯有一女。牡馬一匹,女親養之。窮居幽處,思念其父,乃戲馬曰:「爾能為我迎得父還,吾將嫁汝。」馬既承此言,乃絕韁而去,徑至父所。父見馬驚喜,因取而乘之。馬望所自來,悲鳴不已。父曰:「此馬無事如此,我家得無有姑乎?」亟乘以歸。為畜生有非常之情,故厚加芻養。馬不肯食。每見女出入,輒喜怒奮擊。如此非一。父怪之,密以問女。女具以告父,必為是姑。父曰:「勿言,恐辱家門。且莫出入。」於是伏弩射殺之,暴皮于庭。父行,女與鄰女於皮所戲,以足蹙之曰:「汝是畜 [173] 生,而欲取人為婦耶?招此屠剥,如何自苦?」言未及竟,馬皮蹷然而起,卷女以行。隣女忙怕,不敢救之。走告其父。父還,求索,已出失之。後經數日,得於大樹枝間,女及馬皮,盡化為蠶,而績於樹上。其蠒綸理厚大,異於常蠶。鄰婦取而養之,其收數倍。因名其樹曰「桑」。桑者,喪也。由斯百姓競種之,今世所養是也。言桑蠶者,是古蠶之餘類也。

Another version of the story can also be found here: https://widowcranky.com/2017/11/19/chinese-unicorn-artist-unknown/, described as ‘the silkworm girl’. The tale is analysed in detail in Miller, Alan L., ‘The Woman Who Married a Horse: Five Ways of Looking at a Chinese Folktale’, Asian Folklore Studies, 54 (1995): 275-305 (available via JSTOR here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1178945).

Slaughtered Geese Present a Case for Redress 殺鵝訴冤

During the Zhenghe era (1111-18), the Superintendant Yang Tongzhi was inspecting Wuzhou when a Buddhist priest came to call on him, saying: “It is said that Wei Shu of Qiantang is coming; could this be for a letter of recommendation?” Yang said: “Indeed, [100] I was just about to recommend him.” The priest said: “That would be fruitless. He is the subject of a complaint made by 500 geese to the authorities of the nether world, and is not long for this life.” Yang did not believe that this could be true. The following day, he sent someone with the letter of recommendation, but when they arrived, Wei had already passed away. Later, on a visit to the city, he asked Wei’s clerk about the cause of death, and was told: “He died after an illness.” He asked: “Did he ever slaughter geese?” The reply came: “He didn’t usually kill geese, but once received an order from Zhu, the Chancellor of Pingjiang, entrusting him to make goose with salted fish, so slaughtered 500 of them.”

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.99-100 (tale 170):

殺鵝訴冤

政和中,提舉楊通之按行婺州,一道人來謁,曰:「聞錢塘尉書至,豈求舉狀乎?」楊曰:「然, [100] 方欲薦之。」道人曰:「無益也。渠有五百鵝,見於陰府訴冤,非久於世者。」楊不以為然。明日,遣人送舉狀,及至,尉已殂矣。後到邑呼尉吏問死狀,曰「已病死」。曰:「嘗殺鵝乎?」答曰:「平日不殺,但前日被平江朱承宣委牒,委造鵝鮓,遂殺五百隻。」

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 Ghostly Hand Through the Window 鬼手入窗

As a youth, Liang, Duke Ma, the Junior Guardian[1] was once reading a book beneath a lamp and close to a window, when suddenly a great hand like a door leaf pushed through the lattice into the window. The next night it came again, but the gentleman moistened his writing brush in orpiment water, and wrote his signature in large script. From outside the window came a loud call: “Wash it off for me quickly, then you won’t come to harm.” The gentleman paid no attention but went to bed. Before long it had become very angry, seeking with ever more urgency to wash it away, but the gentleman paid no attention. Just before dawn, it made plaintive wails and was quite unable to withdraw its hand, saying: “The gentleman will be a great noble, I was just testing the gentleman; how can the gentleman bear my extremity? Can the gentleman alone be unaware of the affair of Wen Jiao and the rhino horn?”[2] The gentleman then came to a sudden realisation, washing away his signature with water, and the hand then shrank and withdrew; he looked but there was nothing to see.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.237 (Tale 427):

鬼手入窗

馬少保公亮少時,臨窗燭下閱書,忽有大手如扇,自櫺窗穿入。次夜又至,公以筆濡雌黃水,大書花押,窗外大呼:「速為我滌去,不然禍及於汝。」公不聽而寢。有頃怒甚,求為滌去愈急,公不之顧。將曉,哀鳴而手不能縮耳,曰:「公將大貴,姑以試公,公何忍致我極地耶!公獨不見溫嶠然犀事乎!」公大悟,以水滌去花押,手方縮去,視之亦無所見。

[1] The biography of Ma Liang 馬亮, courtesy name Shuming 叔明, is found at Songshi 298.9915-17. The Huhai account is considerably abbreviated compared to a previous (Song-era) telling. Compare Zhang Shizheng 張師正, Kuoyizhi 括異志 (Inclusive Reports on Strange Matters) (Project Gutenberg version):

Junior Guardian Ma 馬少保

The Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent Duke Ma Liang himself related that in his youth he studied at a Buddhist monastery outside the walls of Luzhou. One night, when reading beneath a lamp close to a window, there was a huge hand like a door leaf that extended before him, as if on a great rope. The gentleman did not look at it, but continued to peruse his books as before. The same happened night after night. The gentleman thus told people, and a Daoist priest said: “I have often heard that spirirs fear red orpiment; you should try to get rid of it with that.” He thus ground red orpiment and soaked it in water, then secretly placed it close by on a table. That evening, when the huge hand arrived again, the gentleman used a brush moistened in red orpiment and wrote on it the single large character cao (‘grass’). When he had finished writing, a great yell came from outside the window: “Wash it off quickly, if not, misfortune will reach you!” The gentleman carried on as before, not listening, and then, leaving the lamp, went to bed. Before long it became extremely angry, and demanded all the more urgently that it be washed off; the gentleman did not respond. As dawn arrived, its cries became ever more plaintive, but it could not withdraw, so spoke again: “The gentleman will be greatly distinguished; I won’t scare other people; I only wanted to joke, but offended the gentleman; how can you stand to see me so extremely terrified? I have certainly caused offence, but, if the conditions of the nether world are revealed to the world through the gentleman’s action that will not be to the gentleman’s profit. Is the gentleman alone unaware of Wen Jiao’s burning the rhino horn to light cow island?” The gentleman, coming to a sudden realisation, then washed off the ‘grass’ character with water, and warned the creature not to return and bother people in future; the monster yielded gratefully and departed. The Jinshi scholar Wei Tai reported that Duke Ma had often spoken of this to his grandfather.

馬少保

太子少保馬公亮自言:少肄業於廬州城外佛寺,一夕,臨窗燭下閱書,有大手如扇自窗伸於公前,若有所索。公不為視,閱書如故,如是比夜而至。公因語人,有道士云:「素聞鬼畏雄黃,可試以辟之。」公乃研雄黃漬水,密置案上。是夕大手又至,公遽以筆濡雄黃,大書一「草」字。書畢,聞窗外大呼曰:「速為我滌去。不然,禍及與汝!」公雅不為聽,停燭而寢。有頃,怒甚,而索滌愈急,公不應。逮曉,更哀鳴而不能縮,且曰:「公將大貴,我且不為他怪,徒以相?而犯公,何忍遽致我於極地耶?我固得罪,而幽冥之狀由公以彰暴於世,亦非公之利也。公獨不見溫嶠犀照牛渚之事乎?」公大悟,即以水滌去「草」字,且戒他日勿復擾人,怪遜謝而去。進士魏泰言馬公嘗說於其祖云。

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27092/27092-0.txt (accessed 21/01/18)

[2] This refers to the account in the Jinshu 晉書 biography for Wen Jiao 溫嶠 (288-329 CE, courtesy name Taizhen 泰真), which relates his death to his exposure of water spirits by illuminating them with a burning rhino horn, and a subsequent warning about such behaviour in a dream. The biography is found at Jinshu 67.1785-96, and the incident at 67.1795.

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).