Cai Mo 蔡謨

Around the time Cai Mo[1] was appointed to serve as Grand Master for Splendid Happiness, he was at home and suddenly heard the sound of weeping and wailing coming from the southeast, as if someone had just died. Soon after, he saw a young girl, a dead person who also wailed at their separation. He did not understand what was going on, but feared that this was the result of a family conflict. Suddenly, he heard the cry of an immortal soul, and soon after witnessed the living girl ascend through thin air into the heavens above. The meaning of this could only be extremely inauspicious. Before long he fell ill, and then died.

From Lingyizhi.

Moreover 又

Someone reported that Mo was seated at the place of honour in the government hall when he suddenly heard a voice ‘calling back the mortal soul’[2] from the neighbours to the left. He thus left the hall and went to the front to look. Straight away he saw a newly bereaved family, and an elderly woman, wearing a yellow half-sleeved garment of silk gauze on top, and a pale green skirt below, floating in the air and ascending into the heavens. He heard a cry, and turned his head to look, then came three cries, and he turned his head each time. He paced up and down for a long time, and when the sounds finally stopped, there was nothing more to be seen. He questioned the family attending the burial, and they told him that the clothing worn by the deceased was just as he had described it.

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, 320.2533:




[1] On Cai Mou 蔡謨, 281-356 CE, courtesy name Daoming 道明, see Jinshu 晉書 77.2033-41.

[2] A funeral ritual involving entreating the deceased to return to their body before burial.

Zhang Yu 張禹

[2518] During the Yongjia era (307-13 CE), the palace guard commander Zhang Yu once travelled through the Great Marsh. The sky had grown dark when he suddenly spotted a mansion with its gates open wide. Yu thus approached and when he arrived before the hall a maid emerged and greeted him. Tu said: “I was passing when the rain started, and would just like to stay over.” The maid entered to report, and soon emerged again, calling Yu forward. He saw a woman, aged around thirty years, seated under a canopy, and waited on by more than twenty maids, their clothing all luminous and beautiful. She asked Yu what he desired. Yu said: “I have my own food, and only need something to drink.” The woman ordered that a shallow pan be brought out and given to him. He therefore kindled a fire to make soup. Despite hearing the water boil, when tried it remained cold.

The woman told him: “I am a dead person, within my tomb mound. I have nobody to share with, only my sense of shame and guilt.” She then began to weep and told Yu: “I am a daughter of the Sun family from Rencheng County, and my father served as Prefectural Chief of Zhongshan. I left to marry into the Li clan of Dunqiu, and bore a son and a daughter. The boy is eleven sui and the girl seven. After my death, the Lis favoured my former maidservant Cheng Gui. Now my son is always beaten, not even sparing his head or face, and pained to the depths of the heart. I wish to kill this maid, but a dead person’s qi force is weak. I have been waiting to find someone on whom I could rely on, and I beg the gentleman to help with the matter. The rewards would be rich.”

Yu said: “Though I cherish Madame’s words, because killing people is a serious matter, I dare not take on this assignment.” The lady replied: “Why would the gentleman be ordered to take up a knife himself? It is only wished that he speak to Li and his family on my behalf, telling them what I have explained. Li will then regret Cheng Gui, and will have to offer prayers to remove this misfortune. The gentleman will then explain that he himself has power to suppress spirits. When Li hears this he will order Cheng Gui to be present for the matter, and I will have the opportunity to kill her.”

Yu made a pledge to her, and set off the next day, telling Li everything he had been told. Li was shocked and terrified, and told Cheng Gui, who was very frightened. They sought help from Yu, but just then he saw the lady Sun coming in from outside, accompanied by more than twenty female attendants. All carried knives and stabbed Cheng Gui, who immediately fell to the floor and died. Before long, Yu passed through the Great Marsh again, and the woman sent her maids out with fifty bolts of zacai coloured silks to reward him.

From Zhiguai.

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, 318.2517-8:


[2518] 永嘉中。黃門將張禹。曾行經大澤中。天陰晦。忽見一宅門大開。禹遂前至廳事。有一婢出問之。禹曰。行次遇雨。欲寄宿耳。婢入報之。尋出。呼禹前。見一女子。年三十許。坐帳中。有侍婢二十餘人。衣服皆燦麗。問禹所欲。禹曰。自有飯。唯須飲耳。女敕取鐺與之。因燃火作湯。雖聞沸聲。探之尚冷。女曰。我亡人也。塚墓之間。無以相共。慙愧而已。因歔欷告禹曰。我是任城縣孫家女。父為中山太守。出適頓丘李氏。有一男一女。男年十一。女年七歲。亡後。李氏幸我舊使婢承貴者。今我兒每被捶楚。不避頭面。常痛極心髓。欲殺此婢。然亡人氣弱。須有所憑。託君助濟此事。當厚報君。禹曰。雖念夫人言。緣殺人事大。不敢承命。婦人曰。何緣令君手刃。唯欲因君為我語李氏家。說我告君事狀。李氏念惜承貴。必作禳除。君當語之。自言能為厭斷之法。李氏聞此。必令承貴莅事。我因伺便殺之。禹許諾。及明而出。遂語李氏。具以其言告之。李氏驚愕。以語承貴。大懼。遂求救於禹。既而禹見孫氏自外來。侍婢二十餘人。悉持刀刺承貴。應手仆地而死。未幾。禹復經過澤中。此人遣婢送五十匹雜綵以報禹。出志怪


Lu Su 魯肅

When Sun Quan (r. 222-52 CE) fell ill, a shaman informed him: “There is a spirit who wears fine silks and who appears as one of the former officers or ministers.” Quan did not heed this but berated him and entered the palace. That night, Quan saw Lu Su[1] coming towards him, wearing silk robes just as had been described.

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, 317.2513:



[1] This is Lu Su 魯肅 (courtesy name Zijing 子敬, 173-217 CE), a famous general who fought at the battle of Red Cliff (Chibi 赤壁, in 208 CE).

Mei Zhu 糜竺

Mei Zhu employed the arts of Tao Zhugong (i.e., the pursuit of wealth),[1] his daily profits amounting to millions upon millions, and his treasure-houses numbering in the thousands. Zhu’s character and behaviour could command even life and death. To one side of his family stables there was an ancient tomb, and a corpse lay within it. One night Zhu followed the sound of weeping, and suddenly saw a woman, backing towards him and uncovered above the waist. She said: “Long ago at the end of the Han era my tomb was opened by the Red Eyebrows,[2] who smashed my coffin and exposed my skin. Now my bare flesh lies upon the ground, and more than two hundred years have passed. I request that the general might rebury me more deeply, and beg some old cloth that I might cover myself.” Zhu thus ordered she be placed in a stone outer and baked clay inner coffin, setting out offerings when this was complete, and clothing her in black skirt and gown, placing all of this upon the tomb.

A year had passed when, passing a bend in the road, he suddenly saw that, at the woman’s burial place, a black cloud was winding about like a dragon serpent. Some people questioned Zhu: “Is this not a dragon demon?” Zhu had doubts about this strange occurrence, and so asked a household page about it. He said: “I have sometimes seen a Qing Luzhang coming and go through the gate as if it were quite natural. I wondered whether he was a deity, and didn’t dare speak up.” Zhu was by nature very suspicious, believed in avoiding those who made requests, and punishing those who spoke up with additional harshness. His page had therefore not spoken.

Zhu’s treasures were piled like hills and mountains, quite beyond reckoning, with all the utensils required to equip the land of immortals, and pearls as big as eggs scattered across the whole courtyard. It was therefore named the Treasure Court, but outsiders never got even a peep inside it. After a few days had passed, he suddenly saw a number of black-clothed youths, who came and told him: “Mei Zhu’s home will suffer a disastrous fire, and not one in ten thousand things will survive. Fortunately, because the gentleman was able to feel sympathy for an old skeleton, the Heavenly Way cannot unjustly punish the gentleman’s virtue. Therefore we will come and repulse this fire, and make sure that the gentleman’s property is not entirely destroyed. From now on, the gentleman should also take steps to defend himself.” Zhu then dug irrigation ditches to surround his inner treasure-house. Ten days later, a fire broke out within the treasure-house and burned his pearls and jades, leaving only one item in ten. It was all caused by a bronze mirror which caused dry things to ignite in the sun spontaneously.

As the fire reached its peak, [2512] he saw several dozen black-robed youths arrive and attack the flames. A dark energy arose like a cloud, then fell back upon flames to extinguish them. The youths also said: “You should gather many birds of the stork family to avert disaster. Storks are able to gather water on their nests. Your family should therefore gather a thousand jiaojing pond herons, and tend to them among the ditches. They hate fire.” Zhu sighed: “A person’s luck in gathering money has limits, and it must not brim over.” Zhu feared suffering disaster, but at that time the Three Kingdoms were waging war and expenditure increased ten-thousand-fold, so he contributed his treasures, buying chariots and robes for his former lord. Of his hundred million jin of gold, his woven silks, embroidered silks, felts and rugs, piled like hills and mountains, his thousand head of thoroughbred horses, when Shu were later defeated, not a thing remained. He died harbouring a grievance in his heart.

From Wangzinian shiyiji.

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, 317.2511-12:


糜竺用陶朱公計術。日益億萬之利。貲擬王侯。有寶庫千間。竺性能振生死。家馬廄屋側。有古冢。中有伏尸。竺夜尋其泣聲。忽見一婦人。袒背而來。云。昔漢末為赤眉所發。扣棺見剝。今袒肉在地。垂二百餘年。就將軍求更深埋。並乞弊衣自掩。竺即令為石椁瓦棺。設祭既畢。以青布裙衫。置於冢上。經一年。行於路曲。忽見前婦人葬所。青氣如龍虵之形。或有人問竺曰。將非龍怪耶。竺乃疑此異。乃問其家童。云。時見青蘆杖。自然出入於門。疑其神也。不敢言。竺為性多忌。信厭求之士。有言中忤。即加刑戮。故家童不言。竺貲貸如丘山。不可算記。內以方諸為具。及大珠如卵。散滿於庭。故謂之寶庭。而外人不得窺。數日。忽見有青衣童子數人來云。糜竺家當有火厄。萬不遺一。賴君能惻愍枯骨。天道不辜君德。故來禳却此火。當使君財物不盡。自今以後。亦宜自衛。竺乃掘溝渠。周繞其庫內。旬日。火從庫內起。燒其珠玉。十分得一。皆是陽燧得旱爍。自能燒物也。火盛之 [2512] 時。見數十青衣童子來撲火。有青氣如雲。復火上即滅。童子又云。多聚鸛鳥之類以禳災。鸛能聚水巢上也。家人乃收集鵁鶄數千頭。養於池渠之中。厭火也。竺歎曰。人生財運有限。不得盈溢。竺懼為身之患。時三國交兵。軍用萬倍。乃輸其珍寶車服。以助先主。黃金一億斤。錦綺繍氈罽。積如丘山。駿馬千匹。及蜀破後。無所有。飲恨而終。出王子年拾遺記


[1] Tao Zhugong was a minister of Yue who abandoned imperial service to become immensely rich, and whose name came to serve as a byword for extreme personal wealth.

[2] An uprising towards the end of the Western Han era (220 BCE – 8 CE), on which see

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.


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:



[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:



Zhang Fei’s Temple Attendant 張飛廟祝

A little over ten li outside the walls of Zizhou lies a temple to Zhang Fei (d. 221 CE). Within it a clay idol stands guard. One night it stirred the emotions of a temple attendant’s wife and, after a year had passed, she bore a daughter, her hair like vermillion and her eyebrows, eyes, hands and feet all just like those of the idol in shape. When she reached adulthood, all of the people feared her. Every official posted to Zizhou would always visit the temple and call her out to see her, some of these leaving gifts of money and silks. She remains there even today.

From Yerenxianhua.

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, 353.2798:



Shao Yuanxiu 邵元休

During the Tianfu era (901-4), the Han Councillor to the Bureau of the Left Shao Yuanxiu, who was not yet twenty years old, lived in a government residence in Yanzhou. In the house there was only a midwife and a maidservant. At the southernmost end of the wing running west from the hall was a study. When night fell the whole household extinguished the lamps and slept soundly. The lamp in the study was also extinguished, and Shao rested his head on a volume and dozed, but heard, coming from the west of the hall, soft light sounds, like a woman’s footsteps. They ascended the hall stairs, and arrived first at the eastern wing, where the rooms of the female servants lay. Pausing whenever they passed a door, he then heard them continue and reach the south wing. There stood an unbolted door to the chamber, and it pulled open the door and entered. Next he heard a great crash, as if of porcelain thrown to shatter on the floor. Xi then entered the study. Outside the window the moon showed new and thin. He saw something. It seemed extremely large, he could not discern its face, but it was six or seven chi in height (i.e., two metres or more), seeming to have its head swathed in deep black silk, and it stood below the door. Shao, unafraid, rebuked it in a stern voice, and shouted at it several times. It did not make the slightest attempt to respond, but departed, moving like the wind. Shao wanted to pick up his pillow and strike it, but it was already gone. He heard it again, moving to the west of the hall, but the sounds then ceased. When dawn broke, he made a careful examination of the objects inside the southern room, finding, laid on the tea couch, white porcelain that had been smashed against the ground. When he subsequently questioned people about the matter he was told: “A military commissioner frequently stays at this residence. When his daughter died, he used the western hall as a chapel of rest for a time, and she still visits her servants.” There was a near neighbour who had known the girl, and said: “She was very tall in stature; that must have been her mortal soul.”

From Yutang xianhua.

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, 353.2794:



Mou Ying 牟穎

When Mou Ying, from Luoyang, was still young, he accidentally, due to drunkenness, left the city and reached open country. He only came to at midnight, resting at the roadside, where he saw an exposed skeleton. Ying was extremely distressed by this, and when dawn broke he stooped over and buried it. That night, he dreamed of a youth, of perhaps just over twenty, robed in white silk and bearing a sword. He bowed to Ying, and said: “I am a stubborn bandit. My whole life I have wilfully injured and slaughtered and indulged in injustice. Recently I clashed with my peers, and was killed, buried by the roadside. Over a long time, rain and wind caused my bones to become exposed. Your servant was reburied by the gentleman, so I have come to thank you. In life I was a fierce and brutal man. In death I am a fierce and brutal ghost. You could allow me shelter and rest, but the gentleman would have to pour a small libation to me every night. I will ever respond to the gentleman’s requirements, and I am already obliged to the gentlemen. Neither hunger or thirst will reach you, and you will always receive the objects of your requests and desires.” In his dream Ying promised this.

When he awoke, he thus had a try at laying out offerings and secretly spoke prayers. That night he again dreamed of the ghost, who said: “I have already entrusted myself to the gentleman. Whenever the gentleman wishes to direct me, he should just call out ‘Chi ding zi’. Speak softly of your affairs and I will always respond to the sound and arrive.” Ying then would always call for him in secret, ordering him to steal, to take other people’s property. His voice never went unanswered or wishes unfulfilled, so he became rich on gold and jewels. One day, Ting noticed that a woman in a neighbouring household was very beautiful, and fell in love with her. He therefore called ‘chi ding zi’ and ordered him to steal her away. The neighbour’s wife arrived at midnight, leaping over the outside wall as she came. Ying jumped up in shock, but treated her with courtesy, asking why she had come. The woman replied: “I had not intended to come, but was suddenly seized by someone who brought me to your chamber. It was suddenly as if I had woken from a dream. [2785] I don’t know what kind of demon it could have been, or what it intended, but whenever I try to return home, I weep without cease.” Ying felt great sympathy for her, and she stayed in secret for several days. Her family made urgent attempts to see her, however, and eventually reported the matter to the authorities.

When Ying became aware of this, he and the woman came up with a ruse. He had her return but then, setting out to a different house, state that she had no idea which evil spirit had spirited her away, and refuse to return to her former home. After she had returned to her family, every third or fifth night she was then picked up by a person and removed to Ying’s house, but, not staying until dawn, she would always be returned home. A year passed, and her family knew nothing about this. She found it deeply strange that Ying possessed such powers of sorcery, so urgently approached Ying and asked: “If you do not explain this to me, I will have to expose the whole affair.” Ying therefore related the truth about the whole matter. The neighbour’s wife then reported it to her family, and together they made a plan to deal with the matter. Her family then secretly requested a Daoist to come and clean away these illicit arts. They then waited. Chidingzi arrived at their gate as soon as night had fallen, but, seeing the great array of magic figures, he was driven back and returned. He explained to Ying: “They repelled me with orthodox magic, but their power is only fragile. If the gentleman fights alongside me we should be able to steal away that woman, and this time you must not allow her to return.” After this speech he set off again, and in a moment a great tempest of wind and rain arose around the neighbour’s house. The entire residence turned black, and the various talismans and prohibitions seemed to be swept away all of a sudden. The woman vanished once more, so once dawn had broken her husband went to the government officials. They accompanied him to Ying’s house bent on arresting him, so Ying fled with the woman. It is not known where they went.

From Xiaoxianglu.

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, 352.2784-85:


洛陽人牟穎。少年時。因醉。誤出郊野。夜半方醒。息於路旁。見一發露骸骨。穎甚傷念之。達曙。躬身掩埋。其夕。夢一少年。可二十已來。衣白練衣。仗一劍。拜穎曰。我彊寇耳。平生恣意殺害。作不平事。近與同輩爭。遂為所害。埋於路旁。久經風雨。所以發露。蒙君復藏。我故來謝君。我生為凶勇人。死亦為兇勇鬼。若能容我棲託。但君每夜微奠祭我。我常應君指使。我既得託於君。不至飢渴。足得令君所求狥意也。穎夢中許之。及覺。乃試設祭饗。暗以祀禱祈。夜又夢鬼曰。我已託君矣。君每欲使我。即呼赤丁子一聲。輕言其事。我必應聲而至也。穎遂每潛告。令竊盜。盜人之財物。無不應聲遂意。後致富有金寶。一日。穎見鄰家婦有美色。愛之。乃呼赤丁子令竊焉。鄰婦至夜半。忽至外踰垣而至。穎驚起款曲。問其所由來。婦曰。我本無心。忽夜被一人擒我至君室。忽如夢 [2785] 覺。我亦不知何怪也。不知何計。却得還家。悲泣不已。穎甚閔之。潛留數日。而其婦家人求訪極切。至於告官。穎知之。乃與婦人詐謀。令婦人出別墅。却自歸。言不知被何妖精取去。今却得廻。婦人至家後。再每三夜或五夜。依前被一人取至穎家。不至曉。即却送歸。經一年。家人皆不覺。婦人深怪穎有此妖術。後因至切。問於穎曰。若不白我。我必自發此事。穎遂具述其實。鄰婦遂告於家人。共圖此患。家人乃密請一道流。潔淨作禁法以伺之。赤丁子方夜至其門。見符籙甚多。却反。白於穎曰。彼以正法拒我。但力微耳。與君力爭。當惡取此婦人。此來必須不放回也。言訖復去。須臾。鄰家飄驟風起。一宅俱黑色。但是符籙禁法之物。一時如掃。復失婦人。至曙。其夫遂去官。同來穎宅擒捉。穎乃携此婦人逃。不知所之。出瀟湘錄

Zhang Jian 張簡

Teaching Assistant to the Tang Imperial Academy Zhang Jian was from Koushi in Henan. He once gave a lecture at a provincial school on ‘Selected Literature’. A fox sprite took on Jian’s form, delivered a lecture on a book, and then departed. When Jian arrived soon after, his pupils were bewildered and asked him about it. Jian was surprised and said: “The former must have been a fox sprite.” He cancelled the lecture and returned to his rooms. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The food I have just cooked is cold; why has elder brother come so late?” Jian seated himself but after waiting for a long time his food still didn’t arrive. He reproached his sister, but she said: “I didn’t see you arrive in the first place; it must have been that fox sprite. If we see it again, kill it!” He came back the next day. He saw his younger sister sitting winding silk, and she spoke to Jian: “The demon has just gone behind the rooms.” Jian took up a cudgel. He saw his real younger sister emerging from the toilet, and attacked her. His sister screamed “It’s me!” Jian did not believe her, and he beat her to death. When he went to ask the silk-winder, she immediately turned into a fox and departed.

From Chaoye qianzai.

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), ix, 447.3658: