King Qian Manifests In A Dream 錢王現夢

Song Gaozong (r. 1127-62) was the ninth son of Huizong (r. 1100-26). While his mother, the Empress Wei, was pregnant, Huizong dreamed that the King of Wuyue Qian Chu came to call on him.[1] On waking, he marvelled at this. It was the second year Daguan (1108 CE). At Gaozong’s birth, a red light filled the palace chamber. In the second year Xuanhe (1120), he was given the title Prince of Kang. At the turn of the Jingkang era (1126-27), the prince was often sent to the Jin as a hostage and spent time among their troops. When the Jin Crown Prince and the Prince of Kang traded bowshots, the latter hit all three volleys, smashing their arrowheads and leaving them hanging together in bundles. The Jin prince was terrified, believing that he was a deity, and thinking silently to himself: “The Song crown prince has grown up [7] deep within the palace, accustomed to wealth and station, so horse riding cannot be his strong point. Now, such expert archery must mean that the southern court have selected a skilled warrior from amongst their clan to take the prince’s place as a hostage; he must be an impostor. Keeping him is of no benefit; he should be returned. Exchanging him and having the true crown prince come as a hostage would be better.” In this way Gaozong won his release.

Changing his clothes he ran helter-skelter down a side road, and when the strength in his legs eventually gave way to exhaustion, he took a nap between the steps of the Cuifujun Temple. In his dream he heard a spirit telling him “The Jin have sent soldiers here; you must leave quickly.” The Prince of Kang looked all around, unsure what to do, and the spirit spoke again: “There is a horse prepared and waiting at the gate; leave quickly, great prince; you must not be caught.” The Prince of Kang awoke from his dream to find a horse already by his side. Leaping atop his mount, the prince galloped away to the south, covering seven hundred li in a single day. When he came to cross the (Yellow) River, his horse would not advance, and when he looked down he realised that it was made of mud. He then understood how the spirits had helped him. Seeking a crossing, he arrived, extremely hungry and thirsty, at a small village, and received food from a very old woman. She invited him inside, and then went back out in front of the house. Just then a number of mounted soldiers arrived in pursuit, and asked her: “There is an official, dressed like us; has he passed this way or not?” The elderly woman considered these words awhile, thinking about the manner of the man she’d just fed, and replied: “It has been several days since he passed through.” His pursuers beat their riding crops against their saddles, exclaiming: “Alas! Alas!” They then turned back, giving up the chase.

When the old woman went back to him, she said: “I see that the official is no vagabond; could it be that you are a person of the imperial palace? Just now some pursuit riders came asking questions, but I have hoodwinked them and they turned back.” The Prince of Kang replied: “I am fleeing to the south, and have arrived here famished and thirsty. I am indebted to you, but faced with these questions in truth I dare not answer, but wish to keep my secret.” The old woman said: “May the Great Prince please be at ease.” After a little while, she prepared a meal and brought it, also taking out several hundred liang of silver and presenting it to him, explaining: “My son was Li Rushui, and he died as their captive. I wish the great prince to devote this to the service of the realm.” The Prince of Kang was therefore able to flee to Xiangzhou and issue a proclamation recruiting troops to rescue the princes.

He then ascended the Flying Immortal Pavilion within the prefectural garden, took up bow and arrow and, looking at its inscribed board, prayed: “If I hit that tablet, I will ‘pay heed to news from the capital’” (i.e., play a role in governing the realm). He fired three times and did indeed hit three times, and those around him were deeply moved and congratulated one another. He also spoke to the commanding officer: “In the night I dreamed that an emperor removed his imperial robes and gave them to me. I removed my former robes and dressed myself in his gifts; what omen does this carry?” After a little while, the city gates were sealed as the official attendant Qin Zaiji had arrived with an imperial decree hidden within a wax medicine ball. This ordered him to serve as commander-in-chief, and to issue forth with an army. Just as the prince set out from Xiangzhou, an envoy galloped up to report that the Yellow River had not fully frozen over. The multitude all turned pale. The prince prayed to the spirits of heaven and earth and to the rivers. When they arrived at the Zihedu crossing, the river had become solid ice, so they went straight over. At that time, Huizong and Qinzong (r. 1125-27) had already departed on their ‘northern hunt’, and an imperial rescript from Huizong was presented, which read: “It would be better to ascend the throne than come to rescue your [8] father and mother.” Moreover, there was a decree from the Yuanyou Empress addressed to the Prince of Kang, which said, in outline: “Only when the House of Han had suffered ten generations of hardship did the prosperity of Guangwu arise; the lord having been presented with nine sons, only Chong’er (Duke Wen of Jin, 697–628 BCE) remained.[2] This can only be heaven’s will; how could it possibly be by human design?” The Prince of Kang bowed and accepted this, ascending the throne in Nanjing.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.6-8 (Tale 8)

錢王現夢

宋高宗,徽宗第九子也。母韋后在娠時,徽宗夜夢吳越王錢俶來謁,覺而異之,時大觀二年也。高宗生於宮中,紅光滿室。宣和二年,封康王。靖康之變,康王常質金人軍中,金國太子與康王同出射,連發三矢皆中,破其筈,纍纍懸於其上。金太子驚以為神,默計之曰:「宋太子生長 [7] 深宮,狃於富貴,鞍馬非其所長。今善射如此,意南朝揀選宗室中之長於武藝者冒名為質,必非真也。留之無益,不如遣還,換真太子來質乃善。」高宗由是得逸。遂易服間道奔竄,足力疲睏,乃假寐於崔府君廟階砌間,夢神人報曰:「金人追兵至,必速去之。」康王徬徨四顧,神曰:「已備馬門首伺侯矣,大王急行,毋為所及也。」康王驚夢,則馬已在其側矣。王踴躍上馬,疾馳而南,一日行七百里,渡河而馬不前,下視之,則泥馬也,始悟為神物之助。暨河渡,至一村莊,飢渴甚,謁飯於一老嫗。嫗延入莊內坐,復出莊前,則有數騎追至,問:「有一官人,狀貌若是,曾從此過否?」嫗思其言狀貌類謁飯者,乃答之:「已過數日矣。」追騎以鞭敲鞍曰:「可惜!可惜!」遂返而不追。嫗歸,語曰:「吾觀官人非客旅也,得非宮中人乎?適有追騎來問,吾已紿之而還矣。」康王曰:「吾奔逃至南,飢渴至此,既承見問,敢不實對,願密之。」嫗曰:「請大王安心。」少頃,辦飯進,因出銀數百兩以獻曰:「吾兒李若水也,已死於虜矣。國家大事,願大王勉之。」康王由此奔相州,揭榜召兵勤王。因登郡圃飛仙亭,視其牌額,持弓矢而祝曰:「若中此牌,則必聞京師音耗。」果三發三中,左右動色相賀。又語幕府曰: 「夜來夢皇帝脫所御袍賜吾,吾解舊衣而服(「服」原作「復」,據元刻本改。)所賜,此何祥也?」頃時京師闔門祗候秦仔齎蠟詔來,命為大元帥,速頒兵入衛。時王發兵相州,使臣馳報黃河未凍,衆失色,王禱天地河神。行至子河渡,而河冰凍已合,遂渡河。時徽宗、欽宗已北狩矣,有使臣曹勛自河北竄歸,進徽宗御札曰:「便可即真,來救 [8] 父母。」又奉元祐皇后手詔迎康王,其略曰:「漢家之厄十世,宜光武之中興;獻公之子九人,惟重耳之尚在。茲乃天意,夫豈人謀!」康王拜受,遂即位於南京。

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)

[1] This is Qian Chu 錢俶 (929-88, r. 947-78, courtesy name Wende 文德, known as Qian Hongchu 錢弘俶 until 960), the last king of Wuyue, who surrendered his kingdom to the Song. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Chu.

[2] This seems to refer to the famous and unexpected ascendance of Duke Wen in 636 BCE after a period of turbulence. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Wen_of_Jin.

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Ma Daoyou 馬道猷

Under the Southern Qi (479-502 CE) Ma Daoyou served as Director of the Department of State Affairs. In the first year Yongming (483), seated in the palace he suddenly saw spirits filling the space before him; the people around him saw nothing. Soon after, two spirits entered his ears, pulling out his ethereal soul, which fell onto his shoes. He pointed at it to show people, saying, “Gentlemen, do you see this?” None of those around him could see anything, so they asked him what his ethereal soul looked like. Daoyou said: “The ethereal soul looks exactly like a toad.” He said: “There can be no way to survive. The spirits are now in the ears. Look at how they swell up.” The following day he died. Taken from Shuyiji.

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, 327.2992

馬道猷

南齊馬道猷為尚書令史。永明元年。坐省中。忽見鬼滿前。而傍人不見。須臾兩鬼入其耳中。推出魂。魂落屐上。指以示人。諸君見否。傍人並不見。問魂形狀云何。道猷曰。魂正似蝦蟇。云。必無活理。鬼今猶在耳中。視其耳皆腫。明日便死。出述異記

A Girl With Two Heads And Four Arms 兩頭四臂女

During Emperor Ling’s reign (168-89 CE), a girl was born in Luoyang with two heads and four arms.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.7 (Tale 52):

兩頭四臂女

靈帝時,洛陽女子生時兩頭四臂。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) 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)

Yan Gen’s Concubine 嚴根妾

During the reign of Zhang Gui (254-314 CE) of the Former Liang, a concubine belonging to Yan Gen, Governor of Fuhan, gave birth. In the same night she bore a daughter, a dragon and a falcon.[1]

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 22 (上1.3)

嚴根妾

前梁張軌時,枹罕令嚴根妾產,同夕產一女、一龍、一鷙。

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories) 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)

[1] The Jinshu 晉書 (Book of the Jin) mentions this same incident, dating it to the fifth month of the fifth year Yongjia (3 June to 2 July, 311 CE; under the Western Jin), and reporting a response, linking such anomalous births to military chaos. See Jinshu 29.909:

五年五月,枹罕令嚴根妓產一龍,一女,一鵝。京房易傳曰:「人生他物,非人所見者,皆為天下大兵。」是時,帝承惠皇之後,四海沸騰,尋而陷於平陽,為逆胡所害,此其徵也。

A Strange Serpent Spits Light 異蛇吐光

In Huizhou, among the peaks facing the river old serpent lived in secret; it was several zhang in length (a zhang is c.3.3m), and none knew its age. Whenever the year of the Song court’s civil examination arrived, it spat out a thing emitting a strange light. When this was a single glowing ball, one person would pass the examinations; if there were two then two would pass. The scholars of Hui would make a special trip and spend the night at a riverside building, to check the number of snake lights, to verify their exam success in the coming year.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.258 (Tale 468):

異蛇吐光

惠州對江山中,有老蛇隱於其間,其長數丈,莫知年數。宋朝科舉年則夜吐異光。若光一團,則主一人登科;若光二團,則二人登科。惠之士人專以夜宿於江樓,望蛇光之有無,以為次年科舉之驗也。

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 Brightly-Coloured Dragon Emblem 龍章五色

[3] The childhood name of Song Wudi, Liu Yu (356-422 CE) was Jinu. On the first evening after his birth, a splendid auspicious light penetrated the chamber. In his days of poverty and hardship, he arrived at the Zhulin Temple in Jingkou, lying down in the classroom, where there appeared the imperial dragon emblem in bright colours; the monks of the temple were astonished by it. Where the emperor halted and resided, people often saw a pair of small dragons, like the yi bird[1] in appearance. Later, when he attacked Dixinzhou, there was a huge serpent, several zhang (c.3.33m) in length, and the emperor shot and wounded it. The following day, on returning there, he suddenly heard a sound like a mortar and pestle, and the emperor went to observe this, seeing several youths all dressed in (servants’) dark robes, pounding medicine among the thick vegetation. The emperor questioned them, and a youth said: “Our king turned into a snake and went out, but was shot by Liu Jinu, so we are preparing medicine to help him.” The emperor said: “The king can then be immortal, why did he not kill?” The youth said: “The king Jinu cannot be killed. He is marked by the Heavenly Mandate; how can he be killed?” The emperor shouted at them, and all fled. He took all the medicine and returned, using it to treat wounds from metal, and none so treated did not recover. Now the Bencao calls this Liu Jinu, and this name is taken from Wudi.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.2-3 (Tale 2):

龍章五色

[3] 宋武帝劉裕,小字寄奴。始生之夕,祥光燦爛,洞燭一室。微時游京口竹林寺,臥於講堂上,有五色龍章,寺僧見而驚異之。帝所居止,常見有二小龍如附翼狀。後伐荻新洲,有大蛇長數丈,帝射傷之。明日復至,俄聞杵臼聲,帝往覘之,見數童子皆衣青衣,擣藥榛莽中。帝詢之,童子曰:「我王化為蛇而出,為劉寄奴所射,故為合藥傅之。」帝曰:「王果能神,何不殺之?」童子曰:「寄奴王者不死。天之所命,豈可殺也!」帝叱之,皆逸。盡收其藥而返,以傅金瘡,無不愈者。今《本草》稱劉寄奴,蓋以武帝而得名也。

[1] Here yi 翼 refers to a bird described in Shanhaijing, which, having a single wing, can only fly in pairs.

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 Kaifeng Water Monster 開封水怪

Under the Song, during the Xuanhe era (1119-25), when someone arose from their bed in front of a tea shop and wiped down the couch, they noticed something crouching beside them like a dog; looking again in the bright light of dawn, it turned out to be a dragon. The person cried out loudly and fell to the ground. A short distance from the tea shop stood a workshop for military equipment. A group of soldiers from the workshop took away the dragon and ate it, but didn’t dare to report the matter. People in the capital all drew pictures to transmit and appreciate the sight; its body was only six or seven chi in length (about 2m), as [74] they have been painted for generations: the dragon’s scales being grey-black, its head like that of a donkey, its cheeks like those of a fish, the colour of its head a true green, with a horned brow, a very long back, splitting into two segments at the end; its voice was like that of a cow. A night later, at the fifth watch (about 4am), a red cloud came from the northwest and covered dozens of circuits, reaching towards heaven, crossing into the Purple Palace and the Great Bear; looking up, the stars all seemed to be separated by red gauze. When the sun rose it split with a tearing noise, which later became very great. This happened over several following evenings, the noise growing, its shaking lasting a long time and becoming extremely strong, with red clouds spreading from the northwest for tens of thousands of circuits, two clouds of black and white passing from the northwest to the northeast, the noise continuing without end, finally stopping at dawn. Several days later, water flooded into the capital, rising to more than ten zhang (33m). Diviners said that in bingwu the omens matched those of the fall of the Northern Qi (550-77), and later the nature of this matter became extremely clear.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.73-74 (Tale 129):

開封水怪

宋宣和間,開封縣前茶肆人晨起拭牀榻,睹若有大犬蹲其旁,質明視之,龍也。其人驚呼仆地。茶肆適與軍器作坊近,為作坊兵衆取而食之,不敢以聞。都人皆圖畫傳玩,身僅六七尺,若 [74] 世所繪,龍鱗蒼黑,驢首而兩頰如魚,頭色正綠,頂有角,坐極長,其際始分兩䏢,有聲如牛。越一夕五鼓,西北有赤氣數十道近天,犯紫宮北斗,仰視星皆若隔絳紗。方起時折裂一聲,然後大發。後數夕又作,聲益大,震且久,其發尤甚,而赤氣自西北數十萬道,中有黑白二氣自西北而由東北,其聲不絕,迨曉乃止。後數日,水犯都城,高十餘丈。占者謂丙午及北齊末占同,後事驗亦甚明也。

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).

An account of the same events is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. Dating it to the second year Xuanhe (1120), this places the incident within a series of disastrous portents, their meaning relating to the palace. The Xuanhe yishi version also, disappointingly, omits the discussion of painting traditions.

William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), pp. 41-42:

That summer, in the fifth month, a creature somewhat like a dragon appeared in front of a teashop in Kaifeng County. It was about six or seven feet long with blue black scales. It had a head like a donkey, but with fish-cheeks and a horn on top of its skull. It bellowed like an ox. As it happened, the shopkeeper was making up the beds that morning when he noticed something the size of a large dog beside him. When he looked closely, it was this dragon. He was so surprised he keeled over in fright. The teashop was situated very close to an arms manufactory, and when the wor­kers in the mill found out about the dragon they killed and ate it.

That night in the fifth watch, several score columns of crimson vapor rose to the sky in the northwest. When one looked up at the North Star, it was as if it were veiled in scarlet gauze. In the midst of it all were alternate streams of black and white vapor, from which emanated crackling sounds like thunder from time to time. Soon rain began to fall in torrents. The level of the river rose more than ten yards, seeping through the city walls and breaking down the dike on the Bian River. Although all the laborers available within the city were marshalled to help in the crisis, carrying straw and sandbags to stem the tide, they were unable to hold it back. Finally, Huizong called upon the executive of the Ministry of Revenue, Tang Lu, to take charge of the operations. In the morning, Lu went out on the river in a small dinghy to see what the flood was like so that it might be controlled. The emperor watched him from atop, a tower. When he [42] discovered it was Lu himself out on the waters, he wept. Several days later the waters leveled off and Lu went to see the emperor, who praised him highly. ‘The temples of Our ancestors are secure, thanks to your work,’ he said.

Lu responded, ‘Water is an element of the Yin class. Yin influences are ascendant and pervade even to the inner reaches of the city and palace. I pray Your Majesty will communicate directly with his ministers, sequester himself from feminine wiles and small-minded people, and heed well this warning from Heaven to make ready for the tribes.’ Huizong commended this memorial and accepted it.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period of the Great Song: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), pp. 29-30:

夏,五月,有物若龍,長六七尺,蒼鱗黑色,驢首,兩頰如魚,頭色綠,頂有角,其聲如牛,見於開封縣茶肆前。時茶肆人早起拂拭床榻,見有物若大犬蹲其傍,熟視之,乃是龍也。其人吃驚,臥倒在地。茶肆與軍器作坊相近,遂被作坊軍人得知,殺龍而食之。是夕五鼓,西北有赤氣數十道衝天,仰視北斗星若隔絳紗,其中有間以白黑二炁,及時有折烈聲震如雷。未幾,霪雨大作,水高十餘丈,犯都城,已破汴堤,諸內侍役夫,擔草運土障之,不能禦。徽宗詔戶部侍郎唐恪治之。即日,恪乘小舟覽水之勢,而求所以導之。上登樓遙見,問之,乃恪也,為之出涕。數日,水平,恪入對,上勞之曰:「宗廟社稷獲安,卿之功也!」唐恪因回奏:「水乃陰類。陰炁之盛,以致犯城闕。願陛下垂意於馭臣,遠女寵,去小人,備夷狄,以益謹天戒。」徽 [30] 宗嘉納之。