Chen Ji 沈季

Chen Ji was from Wuxing. In the second year of the Wu Dynasty’s Tianji era (278 CE), he was serving as Prefectural Chief for Yuzhang. In broad daylight he saw a person standing atop the hall, wearing a yellow turban and a robe of raw silk. The stranger declared himself to be Adjunct General Ping Yuxu from Runan. He asked for his burial place to be moved, and then disappeared, gradually and unhurriedly, from sight. Ji searched for the grave, but did not know its location. He therefore performed a ‘beckoning the soul burial’[1] for him.

Yuzhangji.

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, 317.2511:

沈季

吳興沈季。吳天紀二年。為豫章太守。白日。於廳上見一人。著黃巾練衣。自稱汝南平與許子將。求改葬。悠然不見。季求其喪。不知所在。遂招魂葬之。豫章記

[1] This term zhao hun zang 招魂葬 refers to a situation in which, where there are no remains to inter, the burial of clothing or other items was felt likely to draw the ethereal hun 魂 soul to the grave.

Zhong Yao 鍾繇

Zhong Yao (151-230 CE) suddenly stopped attending the morning court, and his mood and character were quite different to what people had become used to. When a fellow official asked him why this was, he responded: “A woman often comes to me; she has a beauty that is not of the mortal world.” His colleague replied: “This must be a ghost. You should kill it; afterwards it will stay away from your home.” He asked: “How could I intend to slaughter something possessing such a form?” Yuanchang replied: “There is no such problem.” In the end he eagerly called her to him, but could not bear to carry out the plan, so only lightly wounded her. She left immediately, staunching the blood with fresh silk floss, which was scattered along her route. The following day, he sent people to follow these traces. They came to a great tomb. In a coffin lay a woman, her body appearing still to be alive. Wearing a white silk gown and a cinnabar-embroidered waistcoat, there was a wound on one of her thighs, and the waistcoat showed signs of her having wiped away blood. From then the visits ceased.

From Youminglu.

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, 317.2509:

鍾繇

鍾繇忽不復朝會。意性有異於常。寮友問其故。云。常有婦人來。美麗非凡間者。曰。必是鬼物。可殺之。後來止戶外。曰。何以有相殺意。元常曰。無此。慇懃呼入。意亦有不忍。乃微傷之。便出去。以新綿拭血。竟路。明日。使人尋跡。至一大冢。棺中一婦人。形體如生。白練衫。丹繡裲襠。傷一髀。以裲襠中綿拭血。自此便絕。出幽明錄

Zong Dai 宗岱

*uncertain translation*

When Zong Dai served as Governor of Qingzhou, he banned offerings to unorthodox deities. Adhering with great energy to the no-spirit theory, he was quite unable to compromise. From Xianhua, Linzhou, there came a scholar in a hemp headdress, who prepared his visiting card and called on Dai, talking with him for a very long time. Dai refused to change his position, either falling into denial or failing to be reasonable. The scholar repeatedly explained his principles, and eventually reached the no-spirit theory, making things difficult for Dai, but Dai did not desire to compromise. The scholar thus shook out his robes and rose, saying: “The gentleman has cut off my type from their offerings for over twenty years. The gentleman has a black ox and a bearded servant; they have not yet encumbered one another, but now the servant has rebelled and the ox is dead. On an auspicious day they will neutralise one another.” After speaking, the scholar disappeared. The following day Dai passed away.

From Zayu.

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, 317.2508:

宗岱

宗岱為青州刺史。禁淫祀。著無鬼論。甚精。無能屈者。鄰州咸化之。後有一書生。葛巾。修刺詣岱。與之談甚久。岱理未屈。辭或未暢。書生輒為申之。次及無鬼論。便苦難岱。岱理欲屈。書生乃振衣而起曰。君絕我輩血食二十餘年。君有青牛髯奴。未得相困耳。今奴已叛。牛已死。令日得相制矣。言絕。遂失書生。明日而岱亡。出雜語

Wu Xiang 吳祥

The Han-era clerk of Zhuji County, Wu Xiang, feared exhaustion in official service. He thus fled to hide in a remote mountain area. On his journey he came across a stream. It was getting close to dusk, but he saw a young girl, extremely beautiful and wearing multi-coloured garments. She said: “I live alone, without village or district, with only an old woman, only a dozen or so steps from here.” When Xiang heard this he was very pleased, so set off following her. They had travelled a li or more when they reached her home. Her family were extremely poor, but prepared food for Xiang. He finished by the first watch (7-9pm), at which he heard an old woman call out: “Sister Zhang?” The girl answered: “Yes?” Xiang asked who it had been, and she replied: “A lonely old woman back along the road.” The two slept together until dawn, and Xiang set off at the cock’s crow. The two had fallen in love, and the young woman gave him a purple scarf. Xiang bound it as a kerchief and set off back to the place of their meeting the previous day. When he came to cross the stream, however, the water was rushing violently, and too deep to wade. He thus returned to the girl’s home, but found nothing as it had been the previous night, with only a tomb remaining.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 317.2505:

吳祥

漢諸暨縣吏吳祥者。憚役委頓。將投竄深山。行至一溪。日欲暮。見年少女子。彩衣甚美。云。我一身獨居。又無鄉里。唯有一孤嫗。相去十餘步耳。祥聞甚悅。便即隨去。行一里餘。即至女家。家甚貧陋。為祥設食。至一更竟。聞一嫗喚云。張姑子。女應曰。諾。祥問是誰。答云。向所道孤嫗也。二人共寢至曉。雞鳴祥去。二情相戀。女以紫巾贈祥。祥以布手巾報。行至昨夜所遇處。過溪。其夜水暴溢。深不可涉。乃回向女家。都不見昨處。但有一冢耳。出法苑珠林

Zhou Shi 周式

Zhou Shi lived in Xiapei under the Han. He once travelled to Donghai, and along the way he encountered a clerk, carrying a book, who asked for a lift on his carriage. After they had travelled a little over ten li, he spoke to Shi: “I have to pay a quick visit. I will leave my book in the gentleman’s care. See that you do not open it.” When he had departed, Shi stealthily opened and examined the book. It recorded all of the people’s deaths, and Shi’s name was right there in the lower column. Before long the clerk returned, and Shi was still looking at the book. The clerk addressed him angrily: “This is why I told you! Why would you suddenly start to look at it?” Shi kowtowed until blood flowed from his head. After some time of this the clerk told him: “I am grateful that the gentleman brought me so far, but this book cannot be altered. The gentleman will depart today. Go home. Do not leave your door for three years, and you will be reprieved. Do not speak of having seen my book.” Shi returned home and did not leave.

More than two years passed. His family all thought this very strange. When a neighbour passed away, his father became very angry, and ordered him to go to mourn, leaving Shi unable to refuse. When he passed through the gate, he immediately encountered the clerk, who told him: “I ordered you not to leave for three years, but today you emerge from your gate. What option do I have? I tried to prevent you looking, and arranged a continuous punishment, but now I see you, and have no choice. In three days’ time, we will come for you.” Shi returned weeping, and recounted the whole matter. His father still did not believe him, but his mother watched over him, weeping day and night. When high noon arrived on the third day, they did indeed take him, and he died immediately.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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:

周式

漢下邳周式。嘗至東海。道逢一吏。持一卷書。求寄載。行十餘里。謂式曰。吾暫有所過。留書寄君船中。慎勿發之。去後。式盜發視書。皆諸死人錄。下條有式名。須臾吏還。式猶視書。吏怒曰。故以相告。何忽視之。式扣頭流血。良久曰。感卿遠相載。此書不可除。卿今日已去。還家。三年勿出門。可得度也。勿道見吾書。式還不出。已二年餘。家皆怪之。鄰人卒亡。父怒。使往弔之。式不得止。適出門。便見此吏。吏曰。吾令汝三年勿出。而今出門。知復奈何。吾求不見。連相為得鞭杖。今已見汝。無可奈何。後三日日中。當相取也。式還涕泣。具道如此。父故不信。母晝夜與相守涕泣。至三日日中時。見來取。便死。出法苑珠林

Chen Fan 陳蕃

During Chen Fan’s humble years, he once lodged at the household of a Huang Shen.[1] Shen’s wife gave birth during the night, but Fan was not aware of this. During the third watch (11pm to 1am), there was a knock on the door. After a long time, this was answered, and he heard the person enter and say: “There is someone within the gates; I must not step forward.” They were then told: “You can go by the back gate.” Presently he heard the stranger return, and that person, having entered, being questioned by them: “Is there a son? What is his name? What age will he reach?” The one who had come and returned said: “It is a son, named Anu. He will live to fifteen.” They questioned him again: “After that point how will he be killed?” He replied: “He will fall to the ground and die during the construction of a house.” Fan heard this but did not believe it. Fifteen years later he was serving as prefectural chief for Yuzhang, and sent a messenger to ask at the house after the child Anu. He reported: “He was helping the master to build a house when the ridgepole fell. He subsequently died.” From Youminglu.

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, 316.2502:

陳蕃

陳蕃微時。嘗行宿主人黃申家。申婦夜產。蕃不知。夜三更。有扣門者。久許。聞裏有人應云。門裏有人。不可前。相告云。從後門往。俄聞往者還。門內者問之。見何兒。名何。當幾歲。還者云。是男。名阿奴。當十五歲。又問曰。後當若為死。答曰。為人作屋。落地死。蕃聞而不信。後十五年。為豫章太守。遣吏征問。昔兒阿奴所在。家云。助東家作屋。墮楝亡沒。出幽明錄

This tale is also transmitted in the anonymous early to mid-fourteenth-century collection 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), with substantial variations in detail:

Life And Death Predestined 生死前定

When Chen Zhongju was poor and humble, he stayed in the household of a Huang Shen in Jiujiang. One night, when Shen’s wife gave birth, someone knocked at the door, and, when questioned, they replied: “Within the gates is a person of eminence; I must not step forward, but should follow the back gate in going.” Presently he heard the stranger return, and the people inside asked: “Did she have a boy or a girl?” The stranger replied: “She had a boy, named Anu, who on reaching fifteen sui will fall to the ground and die during the construction of a house.” Zhongju made a mental note of this. Fifteen years later he was serving as prefectural chief for Yuzhang, and sent a messenger to ask at the house after the child Anu. He reported: “He was helping the master to build a house when the ridgepole fell and he was killed.” Zhongju did indeed subsequently achieve great eminence.

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), 前1.41 (Tale 74):

生死前定

陳仲舉微時,宿九江黃申家。申婦夜產,有扣門者,聞應云:「門裏有貴人,不可前,宜從後門往。」俄聞往者還,門內者問云:「生男或女?」答曰:「生男,名阿奴,當十五歲為人作屋落地死。」仲舉默記之。後十五年為豫章太守,遣吏問昔兒阿奴所在家,云:「助東家作屋墮棟而死。」仲舉後果大貴。

[1] This refers to the Eastern Han official Chen Fan 陳蕃 (d. 168 CE), courtesy name Zhongju 仲舉, who rose to serve as Grand Mentor (taifu 太傅), but died in prison during factional struggles at the court. See his lengthy biography at Houhanshu 66.2159-71.

Wei Guan 衛瓘

The family of Wei Guan[1] were cooking when the rice fell to the floor, each grain transforming into a snail, extending a foot and departing. Before long they were executed by Empress Jia.[2]

From Wuxingji.

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, 359.2846:

衛瓘

衛瓘家人炊。飯墮地。悉化為螺。出足而行。尋為賈后所誅。出五行記

[1] Wei Guan 衛瓘 (220-91 CE), courtesy name Boyu 伯玉, from Anyi 安邑, in Hedong 河東, was a prominent official under the Jin, serving prominently as Grand Protector 太保 but was killed with much of his household after falling foul of the Dowager Empress Jia and a powerful court faction. For his biography, see Fang Xuanling 房玄齡, et al., Jinshu 晉書 (The Book of Jin), (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 36.1055-61.

[2] On Empress Jia (i.e., Jia Nanfeng 賈南風, 256-300 CE), widely blamed for interference in Jin-era politics, see Fang Xuanling 房玄齡, et al., Jinshu 晉書 (The Book of Jin), (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 31.963-66.

Zhang Yi 張遺

The Prefectural Chief of Guiyang Zhang Yi[1] was from Jiangxia. His courtesy name was Shugao, and he resided in Yanling. Amid his fields there was a great tree, more than ten spans around, that shaded six mu (around 40 acres). Its branches and leaves were luxuriant, and no millet would grow beneath them. He sent a passing traveller to fell it, but after several swings of the axe the tree began to bleed profusely. The traveller was terrified, and returned to tell Shugao. Shugao told him, furiously: “Old trees sweat; what’s so strange about that?” He therefore went in person and hacked at it. A large amount of blood poured out. Shugao hacked at it again, and again, and opened up a hollow space within. A white-haired old man, four or five chi tall (1.3-1.6m), emerged suddenly and stepped towards Shugao. Shugao greeted him with a swing of his blade, and killed him. Four or five old men emerged in the same way, falling to the ground in fear and shock. Shugao carried on as before, quite unruffled. The various people looked on at these beings. Like people but not human, like beasts but not animals, could they be what is known as wood or stone devils, or Kui sprites? In the year he felled the tree, Shu- [2841] -gao was appointed Censor to the Ministry of Works and Governor of Yanzhou.

From Fayuanzhulin. [2]

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, 359.2840-41:

張遺〈搜神記遺作遼。〉

桂陽太守江夏張遺。字叔高。居𨻳〈居上原有隱字。據明鈔本刪。𨻳字原闕。據法苑珠林三一補。〉陵。田中有大樹。十圍餘。蓋六畝。枝葉扶疏。蟠地不生谷草。遣客斫之。斧數下。樹大血出。客驚怖。歸白叔高。叔高怒曰。老樹汗出。此等何怪。因自斫之。血大流出。叔高更斫之。又有一空處。白頭老翁長四五尺。突出趁〈趁原作稱。據法苑珠林三一改。〉叔高。叔高以刀迎斫。殺之。四五老翁並出。左右皆驚怖伏地。叔高神慮恬然如舊。諸人徐視之。似人非人。似獸非獸。此所謂木石之怪。夔魍魎者乎。其伐樹年中。叔 [2841] 高辟司空御史兗州刺史。出法苑珠林。法苑珠林四二作出搜神記

[1] An editor’s note here states that the story is titled (and the character likewise named) Zhang Liao 張遼 in the Soushenji 搜神記.

[2] An editor’s note here states that the Fayuanzhulin reports that the story is taken from the Soushenji 搜神記.

Tan Sheng 談生

At the age of forty Tan Sheng was without a wife. He often became aroused through study and reading. Suddenly one midnight a young woman appeared to him, aged fifteen or sixteen and peerless under heaven in her appearance, dress and posture. She came to Sheng so they could be husband and wife, but told him: “I am not like other people. Never let firelight shine upon me. Only after three years have passed may I be illuminated.” They then lived as man and wife. She’d bore a son, who was already two years old, when, unable to bear it any longer, Sheng waited until she was asleep then stealthily illuminated and examined her. Above her waist was living flesh, just like any human being, but below her waist were just dry bones. His wife awoke, and told him: “The gentleman has betrayed me. I had almost returned to life – why could you not bear to wait just one more year before examining me?” Sheng parted from her with thanks, weeping, as they could no longer be together.

She said: “Although my parting from the gentleman is entirely correct, I am still concerned for our child. You are poor and unable to support yourselves, so follow me a moment and I will leave you something of value. Sheng followed her as she entered a splendid hall, its rooms and furnishings all quite extraordinary. Indicating a pearl-stitched gown, she handed it to him and said: “You can support yourself with this.” She then tore away the front of the gown, left it with him and departed. Sheng subsequently took the robe to the market, where it was purchased by the household of the Suiyang Prince, earning him a thousand ten-thousand strings of cash.

The prince recognised the robe, however, and said: “This is my daughter’s gown. It must have been taken from her tomb.” He thus seized and beat Sheng, who told him the full truth, but the prince still did not believe him. They therefore went to view the tomb, and found the grave undisturbed, just like [2502] before. When they opened it, beneath the coffin lid they found the same gown. They called his child, and indeed he resembled the princess. The prince then believed the story, and summoned Tan Sheng, granting him the gown and installing him as princely consort. Their son was appointed Chancellor.[1]

From Lieyizhuan

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, 316.2501-2:

談生

談生者。年四十。無婦。常感激讀書。忽〈書忽原作詩經。據明鈔本改。〉夜半有女子。可年十五六。姿顏服飾。天下無雙。來就生為夫婦。乃〈乃原作之。據明鈔本改。〉言。我與人不同。勿以火照我也。三年之後。方可照。為夫妻。生一兒。已二歲。不能忍。夜伺其寢後。盜照視之。其腰上已生肉如人。腰下但有枯骨。婦覺。遂言曰。君負我。我垂生矣。何不能忍一歲而竟相照也。生辭謝。涕泣不可復止。云。與君雖大義永離。然顧念我兒。若貧不能自偕活者。暫隨我去。方遺君物。生隨之去。入華堂。室宇器物不凡。以一珠袍與之曰。可以自給。裂取生衣裾。留之而去。後生持袍詣市。睢陽王家買之。得錢千萬。王識之曰。是我女袍。此必發墓。乃取拷之。生具以實對。王猶不信。乃視女冢。冢完如 [2502] 故。發視之。果棺蓋下得衣裾。呼其兒。正類王女。王乃信之。即召談生。復賜遺衣。以為主壻。表其兒以為侍中。出列異傳

[1] With thanks to Ofer Waldman for greatly improving this translation!

Gongsun Da 公孫達

During the Ganlu era,[1] Gongsun Da of Renchen died in office at Chen Prefecture. When they were about to prepare him for burial, his sons, together with the prefectural clerks, numbering several dozen people, were approaching the funeral scene when his five-year-old son began to speak in tongues, sounding just like his father. He scolded the people gathered for only weeping, and then called out to all his sons as a further warning. His sons and the rest were unable to control their grief, so he comforted and encouraged them:

The fortune of the four seasons,

Still has beginning and end.

Human life may be cut short,

Who can avoid this fate?

If the tongue makes a thousand words,

All should accord with the hidden meaning.

His sons questioned him again: “Nothing is known of any who have died. The intelligence of Your Excellency is a unique exception. Are there deities and spirits?” He replied: “The matter of spirits and deities is beyond your knowledge.” He then requested paper and brush, and he wrote. Having filled the page with meaningful poetry, he tossed it to the ground and died.

From Lieyizhuan.

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, 316.2499:

公孫達

任城公孫達。甘露中。陳郡卒官。將斂。兒及郡吏數十人臨喪。達五歲兒。忽作靈語。音聲如父。呵衆人哭止。因呼諸子。以次教誡。兒等悲哀不能自勝。及慰勉之曰。四時之運。猶有始終。人修短殊。誰不致此。語千餘言。皆合文章。兒又問曰。人亡皆無所知。唯大人聰明殊特。有神靈耶。答曰。鬼神之事。非爾所知也。因索紙筆作書。辭義滿紙。投地遂絕。出列異傳

[1] The Ganlu 甘露 era could refer to either 53-50 BCE, 254-59 CE, 265-66 CE, or 359-64 CE.