Yang Xinglian’s Wooden Puppet 楊行廉木偶

Yang Xinglian of Shu was meticulous and ingenious, and once carved wood into a monk, which extended its hand in the Yizhou market and begged for coins. When it its hands were filled with fifty coins, it would lean and pour them into a jar, saying the word “give alms”.

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.7 (Tale 55):

楊行廉木偶

蜀人楊行廉精巧,嘗刻木為僧,於益州市引手乞錢。錢滿五十於手,則自傾寫下瓶,口言「布施」字。

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)

Blazing Star Beauty* 明星玉女

The Jade Maiden of Venus lived on Huashan. Drinking a jade brew, she ascended to the heavens in broad daylight. On the mountain peak there was a stone turtle, its breadth several mu, and its height three ren. At its side there was a stone staircase, and all this was visible from afar. Before the Jade Maiden’s shrine there was a five-dan stone mortar, called ‘the Jade Maiden’s hair-washing bowl.’ The colour of water within it was a deep transparent green; rain did not cause it to overflow, and drought did not cause it to dry out. In the hall stood a single jade horse.

From the Jixianlu.

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), ii, 59.362

明星玉女

明星玉女者,居華山。服玉漿,白日昇天。山頂石龜,其廣數畝,高三仞。其側有梯磴,遠皆見。玉女祠前有五石臼,號曰玉女洗頭盆。其中水色,碧綠澄澈,雨不加溢,旱不減耗。祠內有玉石馬一匹焉。出集仙錄

*Title edited to adopt the excellent suggestion from Ofer Waldman (see comments).

 

Tie Guai Appears In A Dream 鐵拐託夢

Zhang Jushi was a clerk in the Song capital, and his taboo name was Daochun. His wife, née Ma, left the household (for religion), and founded an Academy Assisting The True Way in Huzhou City. Firmly dedicated to the Way, she lived on Fangzi Alley, off Xiuwen Lane, and opened the Pharmacy to Academy Assisting The True Way, in the gengchen year of the Zhiyuan era (1280), and often provided meals to Buddhist and Daoist monks. One day, having first distributed 100 tickets for vegetarian meals, when the day came these were taken as evidence for those attending the food provision. As the time approached, however, the tickets collected amounted only to ninety-nine, so they were missing one. Jushi paid without asking, and therefore provided ninety-nine percent of the meals, but this left him feeling less than entirely satisfied. The next night, he dreamed that a Daoist came to report to him: “The ticket is with me, Guai.”[1] On awaking and reflecting on this, he realised that there hadn’t been a ticket made out to Master Guai, so went urgently and found a boat to the Daoist temple from the pavilion over the well. Knocking at the temple gate and looking, he indeed daw that (the statue of) Guai bore a meal slip, and inscribed upon it were four sentences:

Going especially to receive a meal

I saw that I was not dealt with.

Returning empty-bellied,

My meal-ticket tied to my staff.

He thus understood that immortals also attend worldly alms feasts.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.131 (Tale 229):

鐵拐託夢

張居士,宋朝都吏也,諱道純。妻馬氏,俱出家,創輔真道院於湖州市。好道甚堅,住修文坊扇子巷,開輔真道院藥局,至元庚辰,常齋僧道。一日,先散俵子一百個,至日憑此赴齋。臨期,收俵子只九十九個,不見一個。居士付之不問,徑支齋九十九分,此心終不滿。次夜,夢一道人來告,曰:「俵子在我拐上。」覺而細思,其日並無策拐者,想是道院鐵拐先生,亟於井亭下覓舟往道院。扣門觀之,果見拐上有俵子,題得四句云:「特來赴齋,見我不采。空腹且歸,俵縛我拐。」因知仙亦赴凡齋矣。

[1] This is Li Tieguai 鐵拐李 (“Iron Crutch Li”), a daoist immortal. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Tieguai.

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 Lord of Profound Heaven Manifests 玄帝現像

Wang Daozhi was known as Lay Scholar Free of Knowledge, and lived to the west of Anfu. In his household were collected eighteen of the very finest statues of arhats, and every month he had monks perform rites and make offerings to them. They had a plum blossom [129] that fruited in its porcelain vase, and people thought this an auspicious sign. One day, his family fell ill, and he dreamed that two scrolls were offered before the arhats, saying: “You should go north in person, and ask the Profound Emperor to provide healing.” The following day, a monk came to the gate and asked: “Why do you not attend the immortal?” He replied: “I have no image.” The monk said: “You should invite an artist.” An image of the emperor then appeared on the table, face like a full moon, black robes and golden armour, feet treading on turtles and serpents, five generals to his right and left, holding knives, grasping banners held erect and surrounded by streamers. Known as the Five Dragons, their might and grandeur was far beyond that which one might usually see. When the image was finished it was traced by hand and then vanished. The illness was then cured, and his household treasured the icon.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.128-29 (Tale 223):

玄帝現像

王道之,號無識居士,住安福之西。其家蓄十八羅漢像最精妙,月月命僧禮而供之。有梅花 [129] 結實於甆瓶,人以為瑞。一日,其家病作,羅漢前兩軸獻夢云: 「待自去北方,請玄帝來救治。」明日,一僧登門曰:「如何不奉真聖?」答曰:「無像。」僧曰:「可邀畫匠(「匠」原作「像」,據明刻本、明抄本改。)來。」就桌上現(此處原衍「像」字,據明刻本、明抄本刪。)出帝像,面如滿月,皁袍金甲,足踏龜蛇,左右五將,持刀執纛樹幡,號五龍,猛烈雄偉,非尋常所有者。描訖,像隨手而沒。後病癒,其家寶藏之。

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).

A Clam Reveals Its Power 蛤蜊顯聖

When Chancellor Shi attained power, the governor of the capital selected a tray of clams as an offering. That night the gentleman saw a gleam of light emerging from one clam among the others in the tray. Picking up and examining it, he realized it was quite unlike the others, and when struck it would not crack open. The gentleman suspected that it was a marvel, so placed it on a table, burned incense and prayed to it. Presently the clam cracked open of its own accord, revealing two people, their faces and eyebrows dignified and handsome, bodies and physiques extremely beautiful, hair in buns, hair tasseled and ornamented, wearing lotus-flower shoes, just like those statues people in this world devote to the servants of the Buddha. The gentleman then had a temple grotto carved from various fragrant woods, and to calm their spirits added ornamentation of gold and jade, until the brightness dazzled the eye. He ordered the gathered monks to take them into the Buddhist monastery and attend to them. It is not known how all of this finished.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.267 (Tale 485):

蛤蜊顯聖

史丞相當國,京尹選大蛤蜊一盤以獻。是夜公見盤中一蛤蜊有光,取而視之,獨異其他,劈而不裂。公疑異之,取而致几上,焚香祝之。俄頃蛤自裂開,中有二人,形眉端秀,體格悉備,螺髻纓絡,足履蓮花,與人世所事佛像一般。公遂以諸香木刻成巖殿,以安其神,加以金玉為飾,光耀奪目,令衆僧送入佛寺安奉,後不知所終。

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 Stone Turtle is Able to Walk 石龜能行

By the side of the Chuzhou government office was an ancient stone stele, recording someone’s good governance, even their courtesy name having been rubbed away over the years. Beneath the stele was a stone turtle, which emerged to roam about every night. The government clerks marvelled at this, making offerings to it in search of blessings and fortune, and it never failed to provide results. Due to this prayers to it never ceased for a single day, and it was named ‘Great King Transcendant Turtle’. Eventually a new prefectural chief took over, and, believing it to be a demon, not only would not make offerings, but even had it thrown in the river. The residence was then without calm or peace, but the clerks and populace lifted it back out and made offerings, thus restoring their good fortune. They later encountered a supernatural being who recognised that the turtle was indeed a demon, and smashed it, after which the uncanny events ceased.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.264 (Tale 478):

石龜能行

處州設廳側有一石古碑,亦不知紀載何人善政,字亦漫滅。碑之下有石龜,每夜出遊。官吏奇之,祭以邀福,無不驗者。由是禱祈無寧日,名之曰靈龜大王。續有太守來,以為怪,非惟不祭,且投之水。居不遑安,吏民再扶起而祭之,因此獲福。後遇異人,知其為怪,碎之,而怪方息。

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 Temple Spirit Seizes A Fan 廟鬼奪人扇

Before Fan Zhi, Duke of Lu (911-964 CE), became influential, he was seated in a teahouse in Fengqiu, holding a fan on which was inscribed ‘The heat of summer drives out corrupt officials; a pure breeze brings back the departed.’ A strange and ugly figure suddenly appeared before him and bowed, saying: “How can the injustice of corrupt government end like the summer heat? Someday the gentleman will have to think deeply about this matter.” It then picked up the fan and departed. The gentleman was left sorrowful and unable to fathom the matter. Several days after, he passed a temple and saw a short spirit figure made of earth and wood – looking just like the strange and ugly person from the teahouse – holding his fan in its hands; the gentleman was astonished by this. Afterwards, on attaining a position of power, his first action was to consult on settling the [226] unified code of punishment.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.225-26 (Tale 402):

廟鬼奪人扇

范魯公質未顯時,坐封丘茶肆,手持扇,偶題「大暑去酷吏,清風來故人。」忽有一怪陋人前揖曰:「世之酷吏冤抑何止如大暑,公他日當深究此弊。」因攜其扇而去。公憫然莫測。後數日,過一廟,見一土木短鬼,狀貌酷類茶肆中者,扇亦在其手中,公心異焉。後致大用,首建議詳定 [226] 刑統。

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).