Tigers Thank A Midwife 虎謝老娘

In the Zhiyuan era, the jiashen year (1284), an old woman surnamed Wu lived outside the city of Wenzhou, and at night, during the second watch (9-11pm), a sedan chair stood at her gate, and someone knocked and said: “I request the midwife deliver a baby.” When the midwife opened the gate, he delightedly beckoned her into the sedan chair. She could see little except that the two bearers ran with great speed, paying no heed to thorns and brambles. They arrived at a place with a tall and spacious house, lit brightly by lamps and candles, where a woman lay in confinement. The midwife went through the delivery, which turned out to be a son, and when the washing was finished returned, arriving at home after midnight. When her family asked about it all, the midwife acted as though it had been a dream, and didn’t know what kind of family it had been. Suddenly they saw two tigers roaring and thundering at the gate, and were absolutely terrified. When they opened the gate the next day, they found hung on the fence a side of pork and a leg of beef, and the neighbours all around marvelled at this. This was tigers coming to thank the midwife; who then can say that animals don’t possess human feelings?

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.252 (Tale 454):

虎謝老娘

至元甲申,溫州城外有老娘姓吳,夜二更有荷轎者立於門首,敲門曰:「請老娘收生。」老娘開門,喜而入轎。但見輿夫二人行步甚速,雖荊棘亦不顧也。到一所,屋宇高敞,燈燭明麗,一女子坐蓐。老娘與之收生,得一男子,洗畢而歸,到家夜已中矣。其家問之,老娘如夢,亦不知為何人之家。忽見二虎咆哮於門,驚甚。次日開門,見籬上有豬肉一邊,牛肉一腳,左右鄰里莫不怪之。蓋虎以此來謝老娘也,誰謂禽獸無人心哉!

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).

Advertisements

A Spirit Treats A Bone In The Throat 神醫骨鯁

Wang Youliang of Poyang, while eating a spicy pig’s trotter, accidentally swallowed a finger-sized bone which stuck in his throat and for several days could not be gulped down. Despite spitting and salivating being painful, he could take a little drink and soup, but his family were extremely worried about him. At dusk, when he was beginning to doze, he saw a scarlet-robed figure approach and tell him: “It is said you suffer from a bone. I have medicine, which is simply the finest southern pengsha.”[1] Awaking, he requested a small piece, held it in his mouth until it dissolved, and then on eating, was able to swallow freely as before. This can be seen as an example of spirits granting their secrets in the aid of others.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.226 (Tale 403):

神醫骨鯁

鄱陽汪友良因食辣蹄,誤吞骨如指大,鯁於喉間,累日不下,雖咳唾亦痛,但略通湯飲,家人絕憂之。於昏睡次,睹一朱衣來告曰:「聞汝苦骨,吾有一藥,唯南鵬砂最妙。」覺而索砂一小塊,淨洗含化,纔食頃,脫然如失。此殆神明陰授以方濟人云。

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] Pengsha 鵬砂 refers to borax, or sodium tetraborate.

 

The Cishan Deity Manifests 祠山神顯

Zhang Dadi, of Cishan in Guangde, when he first manifested his nature, once turned into a pig in order to regulate the waterways, and for this reason many people of the prefecture do not eat pigs, treating them as a taboo. The people of the prefecture obeyed this very sincerely, and warned people to avoid pork. The Tang subject Lou Yin (833-909), whose name is famous across All Under Heaven, ridiculed the deities and spirits in every place he visited. He once passed this temple, and inscribed a poem on the wall:

Traversing roads in the world’s farthest corners

Never once in life misled by fallacy.

He was about to write another pair of lines, when his hand was suddenly grasped and dragged upwards, as if by a person. He heard someone speak: “If the second couplet isn’t good, your hand could be snapped off.” Luo, terrified, said: “How about it isn’t written at all, to accord with the deity’s order?” His hand was then restored as before. He continued to write:

Zhang Dadi of Cishan,

Is Lord of Spirits in All Under Heaven.

 

During the Song Jingding era (1260-64), there was a palace, lying four li north of Taipingzhou city, which had extremely powerful spirits. A wealthy family made a great refurbishment of the temple there, using curved tiles numbering in the [216] tens of thousands. When the time came to open the several kilns, their simple clay tiles had all been transformed and showed a glossy blue-green glaze. As the artisans came to complete the project, they found themselves three hundred tiles short, so continued to heat the kilns, the artisans placing several tens of thousands of tiles in the kiln, intending that they should all be transformed and glazed, to sell on and make a small profit. When removed from the kiln, three hundred had received the glaze, but the rest were all simple clay.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.215-16 (Tale 382):

祠山神顯

廣德軍祠山張大帝,初發靈時,嘗化為豬以治水,故郡人多不食豬,自為諱物。郡人事之甚謹,戒不食豬肉。唐人羅隱,名彰天下,所至之處,鬼神無不為之譏諷。嘗過其廟,題詩於壁曰:「踏遍天涯路,平生不信邪。」方欲題後二句,(此處原多一「於」字,據明刻本刪。)俄手如人拽起狀,聞人語曰:「若後二句不佳,能折爾手。」羅悚懼曰:「如不佳,甘照神語。」手遂如故。續題曰:「祠山張大帝,天下鬼神爺。」宋景定年間,太平州城北四里外有行宮極靈,富家巨室重新廟宇,計用筒瓦數 [216] 萬口,臨時起窰三五所燒造,其土瓦盡皆變成青色琉璃。結蓋將畢工,尚少三百口,續行燒造,匠者復以數萬入竈,意其變琉璃,庶可轉鬻以圖小利。及出窰,則三百口為琉璃,餘者皆土瓦也。

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).

Human-Flesh Wontons 人肉餛飩

In the gengyin year of the Shaoding era (1230), the grain in the areas belonging to Ruizhou in Jiangxi ripened empty, and there was hunger and famine among the populace. Troublemakers in the affected region slaughtered cattle for market, but recklessly sold human flesh mixed and stuffed into it. The starved populace gathered ‘like spokes at a hub’, and it sold out with great speed; of what was left behind the beef was the majority. Therefore the people all looked to find the truth; they were arrested and taken to the government office, where they confessed one by one. When the officials thought about [73] the hubbub and chaos they made, they secretly decided they didn’t dare to impose the mandatory death penalty. On the basis of their confession, and as a person’s body does not contain much meat – there is only a little more than one-and-a-half strings of coins in weight that can be sliced off the buttocks and legs. Taking so many bodies, how can this be borne?

In the Jiading era (1208-24), the gengzi year,[1] Lin’an suffered a great drought, and the harvest failed. By the Liushui Bridge outside the city walls there were similarly deceitful types who killed people and picked off their flesh to make wonton, baozi dumplings and the like. In the spring of the xinchou year (either 1181 or 1241), this became especially serious; among the meat was skin tattooed with a recognisable pattern, although nobody dared to say so. All who bought meat had first to ask, “Is this polished-rice-pork? Or is it rice-husk-pork?” ‘Polished-rice-pork’ was human flesh; ‘rice-husk-pork’ was true pork. This matter later became the beginning of the Liu (i.e., Song) decline.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.73-74 (Tale 127):

人肉餛飩

紹定庚寅,江西瑞州管下禾稼秀而不實,民間飢荒。屬地頑民屠牛為市,浪賣人肉雜而為餡,飢民輻輳,發賣盛行,而牛肉多有存者。以故人皆物色得實,緝捕到官,一一招伏。官司慮 [73] 此聲旁達,暗行予決,不敢明正典刑。據其供吐,人之一身苦無多肉,僅有臀腿亂削之餘有淨肉一緡半重。所得寧幾,何忍哉!

嘉定庚子,臨安大旱,歲飢。城外溜水橋亦騙死人剔其肉為餛飩包子之屬。辛丑春尤甚,其中間有花繡之皮,稍可辨認,人無敢言。凡買肉者必先問:「買米猪?買糠猪?」米猪則人肉也,糠猪則真猪也,後因劉自事始敗。

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 an impossible date: the 37th cyclical year should be either 1240 or 1180; neither fit the regnal era specified.