Han Gan Paints Horses 韓幹畫馬

Han Gan[1] of the Tang was skilled at painting horses. While he was leading a quiet life at home, a person suddenly appeared, arriving wearing a black hat and red robe. Gan asked him: “What brings you here?” He replied: “I am an agent of the nether world. I heard that the gentleman is skilled at painting horses, and hoped to be granted one.” Gan erected a painting and burned it. Several days later he went out, and somebody bowed to him in thanks, saying: “Having benefited from the gentleman’s kindness, I have been spared the pain of trudging through hill and water, and you will also receive a reward for this service.” The following day, somebody brought a hundred bolts of white silk, not knowing where it had come from; Gan accepted and used it.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.19 (Tale 98):

韓幹畫馬

唐韓幹善畫馬,閑居之際,忽有一人,玄冠朱衣而至。幹問曰:「何緣及此?」對曰:「我鬼使也。聞君善畫良馬,願賜一匹。」幹立畫焚之。數日因出,有人揖而謝曰:「蒙君惠駿足,免為山水跋涉之苦,亦有以酬效。」明日,有人送素縑百匹,不知其來,幹收而用之。

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] On Han Gan韓幹 (c. 706-783), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Gan.

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Painting Connecting To Spirits 繪畫通神

Zhang Sengyou of the Liang was skilled at drawing, and served as prefectural chief of Wuxing. Whenever Emperor Wu (464-549 CE) thought of one of his vassal princes, he would order Sengyou to go and draw their portrait, which was like a double of the subject’s face. Once, while in the Tianhuang Monastery in Jiangling, he painted the Buddha, Confucius and the Ten Sages, and the emperor asked: “Why draw these in a Buddhist temple?” He replied: “Some day this will benefit them.” Later, when Zhou burned out the Buddhists, in order to construct a Confucian hall, this alone was saved from the flames. Moreover, when he painted four dragons at the Jiangling Anle Monastery, he did not dot their eyes. People questioned this, and he replied: “If dotted they will fly off.” The crowd thought he was joking, and insisted he dot them. In an instant they heard a thunderclap, and two dragons climbed the clouds and soared upwards; only the two without the eye-dots remained behind. This is painting that connects to spirits.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.14 (Tale 76):

繪畫通神

梁張僧繇善畫,為吴興太守。武帝每思諸王在外藩者,即令僧繇乘傳往寫其貌,如對其面。嘗於江陵天皇寺畫佛并仲尼及十哲,帝曰:「釋門之內畫此,何也?」對曰:「異日賴之。」至後周焚滅佛教,以此殿有儒聖,獨不焚之。又於金陵安樂寺畫四龍,不點睛。人問之,答曰:「點則飛去。」衆人以為虛誕,固請點之。頃刻雷霆,二龍乘雲騰上;其二不點者猶在。畫之通神若此。

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)

 

Ascended Immortals Manifest Power 上真顯靈

The Imperial Academician Pan Zuhao (unidentified) lived in Yuzhang. He painted ink and wash images of ascended immortals, then made offerings that they might support him, and his prayers were always answered. One day, the painted image made a weeping sound, and then explained to Zuhao: “You will now die.” Before long he did indeed expire, aged 38 sui. On the day of his death, it also appeared to his son in a dream, saying: “Your father is dead; we ought to return to guard his coffin.” It seized his son Yida, and took him urgently to act as a pallbearer; on the day he departed from the hostel, a vermillion snake curled itself over the coffin. Pan had always served with great care, and this was certainly the response of the immortals. In a wuyin year there was an invasion, and his house was destroyed in the flames of war, leaving only the images in dignified array. His grandson Lin treasured them, handing them down to his fourth son Qingkeng to be remounted, and they were then lost.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.128 (Tale 222):

上真顯靈

太學生潘祖浩,居豫章。水墨畫上真像隨行供養,每禱必應。一日,畫像作哭聲,仍明告祖浩曰:「汝其死矣。」未幾果卒,纔三十八歲。死之日,又託夢其子曰:「汝父已死,我當護其柩歸。」逮其子翼大,亟往扶櫬,離齋舍日,赤蛇蟠其柩上。潘平日事之甚謹,固真聖報之也。戊寅年寇作,其家毀於兵火,儼然獨存。其孫霖寶之,續付青坑季生表背,遂為所失。

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 Pair of Dragons Reveal Themselves 雙龍現形

Liu Dongwei was skilled at painting dragons, and one day a husband and wife came to his gate and said: “Dragons are male and female, and their forms differ. The males have horns that are wavelike and concave, their eyes deep and noses slit, their fins pointed and scales thick, strong above and weaker below, and their tails glow with bright flame. The females’ horns are extravagant, wavelike and even, their eyes shallow and their noses straight; their fins rounded and their scales thin, their tails are strong and thick.” Wei said: “How do you know this?” The people said: “We are ourselves dragons.” They transformed into a pair of dragons and flew away.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.265 (Tale 480):

現形

劉洞微善畫龍,一日有夫婦造其門曰:「龍有雌雄,其壯不同,雄者角浪凹,目深鼻豁,鬐尖鱗密,上壯下殺,尾火燁燁。雌者角靡浪平,目淺鼻直,鬐圓鱗薄,尾壯於腹。」微曰:「何以知之?」其人曰:「吾身即龍。」化為雙龍飛去。

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).

General Zhou Sells Horses 周將軍賣馬

General Zhou was a deity assigned to the Lingshun Temple. The Song court once sold a hundred horses with saddle and bridle in Jiangbei, but the asking price was too high. The buyer asked: “What special qualities do these horses have to make them so expensive?” The reply came: “Our horses can walk on water.” On testing this it turned out to be true. They negotiated a price, and the next day returned with several hundred riders. The northern army rode the horses to cross the river, but a black wind arose on all sides, the riders all fell into the water, and saw that the stream was covered with painted paper horses. Suddenly the banners of General Zhou materialized among the clouds. The Song military commissioner reported the matter to the court, who declared him Marquis of the Righteous Response, [215] with the name ‘Might of Raising Great Wind and Horses’, referring to this incident.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.214-15 (Tale 380):

周將軍賣馬

周將軍乃靈順廟部神。宋朝嘗以馬百匹連鞍轡售於江北,索價太高。買者曰:「馬有何奇而價如許?」曰:「吾馬能行水上。」試之果然。議價定,明日再以數百騎來,北軍騎之渡江,俄頃黑風四起,人皆墜水,但見蔽江紙馬而已。忽現周將軍旗於雲間。宋趙製置奏聞於朝,封翊應侯, [215] 誥詞云「大起風馬之威」,指此也。

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).

Lady Chong Fu the Divine Warrior 崇福夫人神兵

In Guangzhou City, in Nanwu Village, there is a temple to Boundless Lady Chong Fu, jade tiled and vermillion ridged, grand and majestic in form. When the southern ships came and went, none failed to appeal to the spirits there. Painted, dressed and coiffured likenesses of the lady in the temple’s rear hall, with luan-bird mirrors, phoenix hairpins, dragon shawls, elephant combs, bed canopies, robes, gold and silver dishes, remarkable treasures in pearl and jade, piled to every side and all presented as tribute by seagoing merchants, each placed in storage and preserved. All maritime traders were able to come to the temple to pray and practice divination, and those permitted to borrow or lend money freely encountered wind and waves without harm, their profits knowing no limits. The temple possessed two storehouses, for receipt and disbursement. When ships faced dangerous winds and called on the spirit from afar, if a wheel of fire curled around the vessel, it could face the danger without needing to worry. Those who passed the temple in prayer continued without exception in respect and veneration.

During the Song era, powerful bandits caused disturbances around Dayi Peak, and had not been captured for a long time. The pursuing general entered the temple to pray, but, as the matter was urgent, had no time to report in full, so wrote out two sentences, throwing the paper into the canopy and leaving. (There were no means available to press the evil influence out of the borders; all of Ping’s subordinates suggested great stratagems.) This general led his troops forward, lodging below Dayi Peak, and at night dreamed of a person like the present deity Zhifu, holding a white banner, on which was inscribed: ‘Leader of 300,000 Nether-World Troops, Devoted to the Realm Following the Gentleman’s Example’. The next day, the general led his forces in a rapid assault, and just as the armies clashed, clouds and mist suddenly arose on all sides. A banner emerged faintly from among it, bearing the six characters ‘Boundless Lady Dedicated to the Realm’. When the bandits saw this, they fled in panic and fear, and were all surrounded and apprehended. During the Zhiyuan era (1264-94) he submitted to the Great Yuan, repeatedly showing loyalty to the realm and protecting the populace. The court issued him ever more orders, and even today the temple receives many offerings of joss and incense.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.213 (Tale 378):

崇福夫人神兵

廣州城南五里,有崇福無極夫人廟,碧瓦朱甍,廟貌雄壯,南船往來,無不乞靈於此。廟之後宮繪畫夫人梳裝之像,如鸞鏡、鳳釵、龍巾、象櫛、牀帳、衣服、金銀器皿、珠玉異寶,堆積滿前,皆海商所獻,各有庫藏收掌。凡販海之人,能就廟祈筊,許以錢本借貸者,縱遇風濤而不害,獲利亦不貲。廟有出納二庫掌之。船有遇風險者,遙呼告神,若有火輪到船旋繞,縱險亦不必憂。凡過廟禱祈者,無不各生敬心。宋朝大姨山有強盗擾攘,久而未獲。捕將入禱,事急不暇禱告,乃書二句投於帷幄之中而去。(壓境妖氛無計掃,全憑帷幄授鴻籌。)其將引兵前往,宿於大姨山之下,夜夢一人如今之直符,手持一白旗,上題曰:「總領陰(「陰」原作「一」,據明刻本改。)兵三十萬,一心報國效公忠。」明日,其將引兵亟攻,兵刃既接,忽見雲霧四起,隱隱有旗出於中,(「中」原作「巾」,據明刻本改。)上有「無極夫人報國」六字,賊見之,驚懼奔潰,悉為掩捕。至元歸附大元,屢嘗忠國護民,朝廷累加宣命,至今香火尤甚。

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).

Deceit and Cheating Reap Retribution 欺誑獲報

In the government offices of Taiqing in Bozhou there was a Daoist, whose bearing and appearance was greatly lauded. He always carried a small oven, cooking up pills below the hall of Laozi to sell. When a multitude had gathered, he would always point to the image of Laozi and boast: “I am now his master.” The gathering were somewhat dazzled by him, and all without exception wanted more of his medicines. One day he had just pointed to the image when flames suddenly emerged from the oven, flying into his body. Before long the fire had caught him up completely, and the five bodily components were all burnt. The crowd soaked him with water, but the more they poured the more he burned; he leapt up with a cry, unable to bear his suffering. After a long time, he lay prostrate before the Laozi image, as if awaiting his punishment; when he was spotted he was already dead.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.95 (Tale 162):

欺誑獲報

亳州太清官有一道人,氣貌甚揚,每攜一小鑪、於老君殿下煆藥而賣。衆方集,必指老君像大言曰:「我乃彼之師也。」衆頗惑之,莫不皆欲多得其藥。一日方指像大言,忽火自鑪出,飛入其身,須臾焰發,五體俱燒。衆皆以水沃之,愈沃愈熾,號呼跳躍,不勝其苦。良久,面老君像俯伏如待罪狀,視之則已死矣。

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.