Crocodiles 骨雷

Crocodiles come from the realm of Funan, being two or three zhang in length (i.e. 10 to 13 metres), with four feet, like a gecko in shape. They frequently swallow people whole, and the princes of Funan order people to catch these fish and place them in their moats, so that criminals can be thrown to them. If they are worthy of death, the crocodiles will eat them; if they are without guilt, this will be scented and they will not be eaten. Crocodiles are also called hulei; bears are able to control them, grasping their snouts and dragging them to the bank, then pulling them apart and eating them. Also known as gulei, they transform into tigers in autumn, having three talons, and issue forth from the two prefectures Si and Lei in Nanhai; Yingpan Village in Linhai has many of them.

From Zhiwenji.

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), x, 464.3822:

骨雷

扶南國出鱷魚。大者二三丈。四足。似守宮狀。常生吞人。扶南王令人捕此魚。置於塹中。以罪人投之。若合死。鱷魚乃食之。無罪者。嗅而不食。鱷魚別號忽雷。熊能制之。握其觜至岸。裂擘食之。一名骨雷。秋化為虎。三爪。出南海思雷二州。臨海英潘村多有之。

出洽聞記

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Release A Dragon, Receive A Reward 放龍獲報

On the bank of the Lu River Li Yuan saw a small scarlet snake. Less than a chi in length, it was being harassed by a shepherd boy. Yuan bought it with a hundred cash, and released it among the thick vegetation. The following year, he was crossing the Long Bridge[1] again, and saw the Jinshi scholar Zhu Jun coming to call on him, saying: “Jun lives just a few hundred paces from the end of the bridge; their Excellency sends an invitation, if you will pardon me and sit.” Leading him to sit together in a boat, they travelled to a mountain, with richly decorated buildings and halls, all very tightly guarded. Presently, a person wearing a tall hat and ceremonial robes summoned Yuan, saying: “Our young son suffered misfortune and almost died at the hands of a mischievous boy; his humble life depended on the gentleman’s help.” Turning to Jun he ordered that he bow again, and then ordered a banquet be laid out, mixing products of land and sea, saying: “I am a fish of the southern seas; having achieved merit in life, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that I reside here, styling me Anliu Wang. I have a young servant, with the childhood name Yunjie, and I now present her to you; if you accept her, she will be of help.” Yuan therefore did not depart. He subsequently went to sit the civil examinations; when the test was due on the following day, Yunjie stealthily obtained the exam questions; Yuan then prepared his composition in advance, and, on entering the examination hall, felt great satisfaction, achieved great success and a recommendation as an imperial scholar. Yunjie said goodbye to him, saying: “I have obeyed the prince’s order and dare not stay long.” A poem of parting read:

Six years here to repay deep benevolence,

Saying farewell to the aquatic realm and the region of fish.

None say that newly-weds should be parted again,

All wish to share ancient love with new people.

Li Yuan was thus newly married at that time.

**uncertain translation**

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118 (Tale 205):

放龍獲報

李元於吳江岸見小朱蛇,長不滿尺,為牧童所困。元以百錢買之,放於茂草中。明年,再經長橋,有進士朱浚來謁見,曰:「浚居橋尾數百步耳,大人遣奉召,幸恕坐。」邀同舟,至一山,樓殿寶飾,侍衛甚嚴。俄一人高冠道服,引元坐:曰:「小兒不幸,幾死頑童之手,賴君子活此微命。」顧浚令再拜,乃命置酒,水陸交錯,曰:「吾乃南海之鱗,有功於世,天帝詔居此,封安流王。吾有小奴,小字雲姐,今於贈子,子納之,當得其助。」元乃別去。後赴禮闈,明日當試,雲姐私入竊所試題目出,元乃檢閱宿構,入試,大得意,高捷薦名登科。雲姐告辭曰:「奉王命不敢久留。」作詩別曰:「六年於此報深恩,水國魚鄉是去程。莫謂初婚又相別,都將舊愛與新人。」時李元新娶故也。

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)

[1] An ancient structure in Jiangsu Province.

The Celestial Master Executes A Turtle 天師斬黿

In the wuxu year of the Dade era (1298), there was an ancient dyke at the southern fringe of the various prefectures’ salt production offices. The dyke was thirty li from the sea, but the ground extending from it was very alkaline and the swell of the tide eroded the dyke every year, flooding the salt-works. The power of the sea encroached upon the prefectural capital, and when news of this reached the government office, they built up the dyke across more than two hundred zhang (660m), but within three days it had collapsed again. Everyone said that water demons had caused the damage, and that this was not something people could repair. The provincial council informed the Department of State Affairs, who respectfully received the letter and courteously invited the thirty-eighth Celestial Master to hurry and visit Hangzhou. At that time the provincial officials combined to make five days of offerings, day and night, beginning from the first day of the fifth month (10 June, 1298). When these offerings were finished, the Celestial Master sent a Master of the Law on board a boat, to throw an iron tally into the river. Initially the iron tally bounced and leapt among the waves, but after a moment it sank, wind, thunder, lightning and fog circling and winding around it. The following day they looked at the river and saw the sand rising through the day, and the dyke returned to its previous form, rising out of the river’s centre. In a depression on the sand there was a strange thing, killed by a lightning strike upon it, and more than two zhang (6.6m) across, shaped like a soft-shelled turtle, but bearing a shell. The provincial office sent a memorial to the court upon hearing of it, and they received lofty and generous commendation and reward.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.163 (Tale 283):

天師斬黿

大德戊戌年,鹽官州州南瀕古塘,塘距海三十里,地橫亙皆斥鹵,比年潮汐衝齧,鹽場陷焉。海勢侵逼州治,州以事聞於省府,復加修築塘岸二百餘丈,不三日復圮,皆謂水怪為害,非人力能復。省咨都省聞奏,欽奉玉音,禮請卅八代天師馳驛詣杭州。時合省官僚,以五月朔就佑聖觀建醮五晝夜。醮畢,天師遣法師乘船,投鐵符于江。初則鐵符跳躍浪中,食頃方沉,風雷電霧旋繚(「繚」,明刻本作「遶」。)于中。明日視之,沙漲日增,堤岸復舊,江心突起。沙湫中有異物,為雷殛死于上,廣二丈長許,狀如黿,有殼。省府聞奏于朝,崇(「崇」,明刻本作「榮」。)錫旌賞。

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).

Inserting A Hairpin, Sprouting Bamboo 插簪生筍

In Ji’an City there was an altar to Madame Wei, located ten li south of the walls. When the Lady was producing her pills of immortality, an elderly village woman repeatedly offered her tea, and the Lady, divining her intentions, pulled out a hairpin and inserted it beneath the woman’s hedge, saying: “Every year, on the final day of the fourth month, this will sprout a bamboo shoot, which will supply your family with food.” The following year, the ground there sprouted bamboo, sweet in flavour and without roots or young sprouts. The villagers called it the ‘Deficit-Filling Bamboo’, and it grows there to this day.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.134 (Tale 234):

插簪生筍

吉安城有魏夫人壇,在城南十里。夫人煉丹時,有村嫗屢以茶獻,夫人感其意,遂拔簪插于籬下,曰:「年年四月盡,當生筍,可供汝家之食饌。」次年,其地筍生,味甘而無根苗,鄉人名曰「填補筍」,至今有之。

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).