Zong Dai 宗岱

*uncertain translation*

When Zong Dai served as Governor of Qingzhou, he banned offerings to unorthodox deities. Adhering with great energy to the no-spirit theory, he was quite unable to compromise. From Xianhua, Linzhou, there came a scholar in a hemp headdress, who prepared his visiting card and called on Dai, talking with him for a very long time. Dai refused to change his position, either falling into denial or failing to be reasonable. The scholar repeatedly explained his principles, and eventually reached the no-spirit theory, making things difficult for Dai, but Dai did not desire to compromise. The scholar thus shook out his robes and rose, saying: “The gentleman has cut off my type from their offerings for over twenty years. The gentleman has a black ox and a bearded servant; they have not yet encumbered one another, but now the servant has rebelled and the ox is dead. On an auspicious day they will neutralise one another.” After speaking, the scholar disappeared. The following day Dai passed away.

From Zayu.

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, 317.2508:

宗岱

宗岱為青州刺史。禁淫祀。著無鬼論。甚精。無能屈者。鄰州咸化之。後有一書生。葛巾。修刺詣岱。與之談甚久。岱理未屈。辭或未暢。書生輒為申之。次及無鬼論。便苦難岱。岱理欲屈。書生乃振衣而起曰。君絕我輩血食二十餘年。君有青牛髯奴。未得相困耳。今奴已叛。牛已死。令日得相制矣。言絕。遂失書生。明日而岱亡。出雜語

Liu Jiao 劉嶠

At the end of the Yongjia era (307-13 CE), there was a Liu Jiao who lived in Jinling. His elder brother had died young, and his sister-in-law lived as a widow. One night, his sister-in-law and a servant-girl were asleep in the hall when the servant suddenly cried out and hurried to his room. She told him: “On the wall where your sister-in-law sleeps there is a very strange and unwholesome sight.” Liu Jiao quickly picked up a knife and lit the fire. Just as he reached the woman, he saw that there were shapes like human faces on all four walls, their eyes opened wide and their tongues protruding. Some were tigers, some dragons, changing to take on every conceivable shape, and growing as he watched to over a zhang (3.3m) in length. His sister-in-law then died.

From Guanggujin wuxingji.

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, 359.2846:

劉嶠

永嘉末。有劉嶠居晉陵。其兄蚤亡。嫂寡居。夜。嫂與婢在堂中眠。二更中。婢〈婢原作嫂。據明鈔本改。〉忽大哭。走往其房。云。嫂屋中及壁上。奇怪不可看。劉嶠便持刀然火。將婦至。見四壁上如人面。張目吐舌。或虎或龍。千變萬形。視其面長丈餘。嫂即亡。出廣古今五行記

Zhou Shi 周式

Zhou Shi lived in Xiapei under the Han. He once travelled to Donghai, and along the way he encountered a clerk, carrying a book, who asked for a lift on his carriage. After they had travelled a little over ten li, he spoke to Shi: “I have to pay a quick visit. I will leave my book in the gentleman’s care. See that you do not open it.” When he had departed, Shi stealthily opened and examined the book. It recorded all of the people’s deaths, and Shi’s name was right there in the lower column. Before long the clerk returned, and Shi was still looking at the book. The clerk addressed him angrily: “This is why I told you! Why would you suddenly start to look at it?” Shi kowtowed until blood flowed from his head. After some time of this the clerk told him: “I am grateful that the gentleman brought me so far, but this book cannot be altered. The gentleman will depart today. Go home. Do not leave your door for three years, and you will be reprieved. Do not speak of having seen my book.” Shi returned home and did not leave.

More than two years passed. His family all thought this very strange. When a neighbour passed away, his father became very angry, and ordered him to go to mourn, leaving Shi unable to refuse. When he passed through the gate, he immediately encountered the clerk, who told him: “I ordered you not to leave for three years, but today you emerge from your gate. What option do I have? I tried to prevent you looking, and arranged a continuous punishment, but now I see you, and have no choice. In three days’ time, we will come for you.” Shi returned weeping, and recounted the whole matter. His father still did not believe him, but his mother watched over him, weeping day and night. When high noon arrived on the third day, they did indeed take him, and he died immediately.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 316.2504:

周式

漢下邳周式。嘗至東海。道逢一吏。持一卷書。求寄載。行十餘里。謂式曰。吾暫有所過。留書寄君船中。慎勿發之。去後。式盜發視書。皆諸死人錄。下條有式名。須臾吏還。式猶視書。吏怒曰。故以相告。何忽視之。式扣頭流血。良久曰。感卿遠相載。此書不可除。卿今日已去。還家。三年勿出門。可得度也。勿道見吾書。式還不出。已二年餘。家皆怪之。鄰人卒亡。父怒。使往弔之。式不得止。適出門。便見此吏。吏曰。吾令汝三年勿出。而今出門。知復奈何。吾求不見。連相為得鞭杖。今已見汝。無可奈何。後三日日中。當相取也。式還涕泣。具道如此。父故不信。母晝夜與相守涕泣。至三日日中時。見來取。便死。出法苑珠林

Chen Fan 陳蕃

During Chen Fan’s humble years, he once lodged at the household of a Huang Shen.[1] Shen’s wife gave birth during the night, but Fan was not aware of this. During the third watch (11pm to 1am), there was a knock on the door. After a long time, this was answered, and he heard the person enter and say: “There is someone within the gates; I must not step forward.” They were then told: “You can go by the back gate.” Presently he heard the stranger return, and that person, having entered, being questioned by them: “Is there a son? What is his name? What age will he reach?” The one who had come and returned said: “It is a son, named Anu. He will live to fifteen.” They questioned him again: “After that point how will he be killed?” He replied: “He will fall to the ground and die during the construction of a house.” Fan heard this but did not believe it. Fifteen years later he was serving as prefectural chief for Yuzhang, and sent a messenger to ask at the house after the child Anu. He reported: “He was helping the master to build a house when the ridgepole fell. He subsequently died.” 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, 316.2502:

陳蕃

陳蕃微時。嘗行宿主人黃申家。申婦夜產。蕃不知。夜三更。有扣門者。久許。聞裏有人應云。門裏有人。不可前。相告云。從後門往。俄聞往者還。門內者問之。見何兒。名何。當幾歲。還者云。是男。名阿奴。當十五歲。又問曰。後當若為死。答曰。為人作屋。落地死。蕃聞而不信。後十五年。為豫章太守。遣吏征問。昔兒阿奴所在。家云。助東家作屋。墮楝亡沒。出幽明錄

This tale is also transmitted in the anonymous early to mid-fourteenth-century collection 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), with substantial variations in detail:

Life And Death Predestined 生死前定

When Chen Zhongju was poor and humble, he stayed in the household of a Huang Shen in Jiujiang. One night, when Shen’s wife gave birth, someone knocked at the door, and, when questioned, they replied: “Within the gates is a person of eminence; I must not step forward, but should follow the back gate in going.” Presently he heard the stranger return, and the people inside asked: “Did she have a boy or a girl?” The stranger replied: “She had a boy, named Anu, who on reaching fifteen sui will fall to the ground and die during the construction of a house.” Zhongju made a mental note of this. Fifteen years later he was serving as prefectural chief for Yuzhang, and sent a messenger to ask at the house after the child Anu. He reported: “He was helping the master to build a house when the ridgepole fell and he was killed.” Zhongju did indeed subsequently achieve great eminence.

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), 前1.41 (Tale 74):

生死前定

陳仲舉微時,宿九江黃申家。申婦夜產,有扣門者,聞應云:「門裏有貴人,不可前,宜從後門往。」俄聞往者還,門內者問云:「生男或女?」答曰:「生男,名阿奴,當十五歲為人作屋落地死。」仲舉默記之。後十五年為豫章太守,遣吏問昔兒阿奴所在家,云:「助東家作屋墮棟而死。」仲舉後果大貴。

[1] This refers to the Eastern Han official Chen Fan 陳蕃 (d. 168 CE), courtesy name Zhongju 仲舉, who rose to serve as Grand Mentor (taifu 太傅), but died in prison during factional struggles at the court. See his lengthy biography at Houhanshu 66.2159-71.

Master Ren Of Wu 吳任生

Master Ren, from Wu Prefecture, was skilled at spotting spirits, and his cottage was on Dongtingshan. He often looked like a young boy, and, according to the custom of Wu and Chu, none knew his birthdate. During the Baoli era (825-26 CE), there was a youth, surnamed Yang, the son of a Qiankunshan military officer, who was living apart in Wu Prefecture. He would often, of a daytime, meet a few people of a similar age and go boating together.

When they went to the Huqiu Temple, Master Ren was in the boat with them. Their talk touched on spirits and deities, and Master Yang said: “People and spirits leave different traces. Because spirits have died they cannot be seen.” Master Ren laughed: “Spirits are extremely numerous. People are just unable to recognise them. Only I can pick them out.” They turned to look at a woman, dressed in dark robes, holding a small boy and walking along the bank. The Master pointed and said: “This is a spirit. The thing she is embracing is nothing more than the ethereal soul of an infant.” Yang said: “But then how can you tell that she is a spirit?” The Master replied: “So the gentleman thinks I’m all talk?” He then called out in a stern voice: “You are a spirit. Have you stolen the child of a living person?” When the woman heard this she was terrified, and started to hurry back the way she had come. Before she had taken more than a few dozen steps, she vanished. Master Yang was both impressed and astonished.

When evening came, they returned. Several dozen li from the city walls there was a house on the riverbank, with mats laid out for a feast. There was a sorceress, who encouraged them to take seats at her left, and libations were made to the deities. Master Yang and Master Ren both asked her about this, and the sorceress told them: “Today a villager’s baby died of a sudden illness, but now it has revived so we are holding a banquet in gratitude.” They then ordered that the child be brought out for them to see, and it was indeed the infant that the woman had been carrying. The guests were all amazed and alarmed at this, and thanked Master Ren, saying: “The gentleman is truly an adept of the Way; we had no idea!”

From Xuanshizhi.

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, 347.2746:

吳任生

吳郡任生者。善視鬼。廬於洞庭山。貌常若童兒。吳楚之俗。莫能究其甲子。寶曆中。有前崑山尉楊氏子。僑居吳郡。常一日。里中三數輩。相與泛舟。俱遊虎丘寺。時任生在舟中。且語及鬼神事。楊生曰。人鬼殊迹。故鬼卒不可見矣。任生笑曰。鬼甚多。人不能識耳。我獨識之。然顧一婦人。衣青衣。擁豎兒。步於岸。生指語曰。此鬼也。其擁者乃嬰兒之〈之原作也。據明鈔本改。〉生魂耳。楊曰。然則何以辨其鬼耶。生曰。君第觀我與語。即厲聲呼曰。爾鬼也。竊生人之子乎。其婦人聞而驚懾。遂疾廻去。步未十數。遽亡見矣。楊生且歎且異。及晚還。去郭數里。岸傍一家。陳筵席。有女巫。鼓舞於其左。乃醮神也。楊生與任生俱問之。巫曰。今日里中人有嬰兒暴卒。今則寤矣。故設筵以謝。遂命出嬰兒以視。則真婦人所擁者。諸客驚歎之。謝任生曰。先生真道術者。吾不得而知也。出宣室志

Wei Guan 衛瓘

The family of Wei Guan[1] were cooking when the rice fell to the floor, each grain transforming into a snail, extending a foot and departing. Before long they were executed by Empress Jia.[2]

From Wuxingji.

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, 359.2846:

衛瓘

衛瓘家人炊。飯墮地。悉化為螺。出足而行。尋為賈后所誅。出五行記

[1] Wei Guan 衛瓘 (220-91 CE), courtesy name Boyu 伯玉, from Anyi 安邑, in Hedong 河東, was a prominent official under the Jin, serving prominently as Grand Protector 太保 but was killed with much of his household after falling foul of the Dowager Empress Jia and a powerful court faction. For his biography, see Fang Xuanling 房玄齡, et al., Jinshu 晉書 (The Book of Jin), (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 36.1055-61.

[2] On Empress Jia (i.e., Jia Nanfeng 賈南風, 256-300 CE), widely blamed for interference in Jin-era politics, see Fang Xuanling 房玄齡, et al., Jinshu 晉書 (The Book of Jin), (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1974), 31.963-66.

Pei Jie 裴楷

Pei Jie of Jin was cooking in his home, heating millet in his steamer, when some of it turned into a fist, some transformed into blood, and some into turnip-seed. Before long he was dead.

From Wuxingji.

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, 359.2846:

裴楷

晉裴楷家中炊。黍在甑。或變為拳。或化為血。或作蕪菁子。未幾而卒。出五行記

A Wudu Woman 武都女

In Wudu there was a man who transformed into a woman, beautiful and elegant. This woman was an elemental.[1] The prince of Shu accepted her as a concubine, but she was not accustomed to the climate, so wished to leave. Her host, wishing to keep her, played songs from Dongping to cheer her up. Before long, however, she had passed away. The prince mourned her, and sent five strong fellows to Wudu, picking up earth to make a grave mound for his concubine. The earth mound covered several mu (a mu equals 6.67 acres), and rose seven zhang in height (about 25m), and upon it there was a stone mirror. Today this is Wudan, at the north edge of Chengdu.

From Huayangguozhi.

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, 359.2839:

武都女

武都有一丈夫。化為女子。美而豔。蓋女〈明鈔本女作山〉精也。蜀王納為妃。不習水土。欲去。主留之。乃為東平之歌以樂之。無幾物故。王哀之。乃遣五丁之武都。擔土為妃作塚。蓋地數畝。高七丈。上有石鏡。今成都北角〈角原作商。據明鈔本改。〉武擔是也。出華陽國志

[1] The character used here is jing 精, which carries a wide range of meanings, including ‘spirit’, ‘goblin’ and ‘demon’. Possibly overstating a distinction between gui 鬼 and jing, I had originally opted for ’demon’ here, but reconsidered this after the ever-helpful Ofer Waldman suggested that ‘spirit’ was less likely to be confused with the yao 妖 ‘demon’ of the chapter heading. After consulting Schafer’s translation of the Taiping guangji table of contents, I have decided (with reservations) to follow his ‘elemental’ reading for jing 精, in order to avoid involving a connotation of evil to the character. See Edward Schafer, ‘The Table of Contents of the “T’ai p’ing kuang chi”,’ CLEAR 2 (1980), 258-63 (262).

Fei Ji 費季

Fei Ji, from Wu, spent several years as a travelling merchant. At that time there were many bandits on the roads, and his wife often worried about this. When Ji and his fellows were staying at a travellers’ hostel below Lushan, each asked the others how long they had been on the road. Ji said: “Several years have already passed since I left my home. Just before departing I said farewell to my wife, and asked for her gold hairpin to take with me. I wanted to check whether or not she was devoted to me. I received the hairpin, and left it on the door lintel. Setting off I lost my way, and that hairpin is still on the lintel.” That night, his wife dreamed that Ji told her: “On my journey I encountered bandits, and have been dead for two years. If you don’t believe these words of mine, I took your hairpin but did not carry it with me. I left it [2504] on the door lintel, so you can go and get it.” When his wife awoke, she sought and found the hairpin. The household then announced his death, but, a year later, Ji arrived back from his travels.

From Soushenji.

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, 316.2503-4:

費季

吳人費季。客賈數年。時道多劫。妻常憂之。季與同輩旅宿廬山下。各相問去家幾時。季曰。吾去家已數年。臨來。與妻別。就求金釵以行。欲觀其志。當與吾否耳。得釵。仍以著戶楣上。臨發忘道。此釵故當在戶上也。爾夕。妻夢季曰。吾行遇盜。死已二年。若不信吾言。吾取汝釵。遂不以行。留 [2504] 在戶楣上。可往取之。妻覺。揣釵得之。家遂發喪。後一年餘。季行來歸還。出搜神記

Gongsun Da 公孫達

During the Ganlu era,[1] Gongsun Da of Renchen died in office at Chen Prefecture. When they were about to prepare him for burial, his sons, together with the prefectural clerks, numbering several dozen people, were approaching the funeral scene when his five-year-old son began to speak in tongues, sounding just like his father. He scolded the people gathered for only weeping, and then called out to all his sons as a further warning. His sons and the rest were unable to control their grief, so he comforted and encouraged them:

The fortune of the four seasons,

Still has beginning and end.

Human life may be cut short,

Who can avoid this fate?

If the tongue makes a thousand words,

All should accord with the hidden meaning.

His sons questioned him again: “Nothing is known of any who have died. The intelligence of Your Excellency is a unique exception. Are there deities and spirits?” He replied: “The matter of spirits and deities is beyond your knowledge.” He then requested paper and brush, and he wrote. Having filled the page with meaningful poetry, he tossed it to the ground and died.

From Lieyizhuan.

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, 316.2499:

公孫達

任城公孫達。甘露中。陳郡卒官。將斂。兒及郡吏數十人臨喪。達五歲兒。忽作靈語。音聲如父。呵衆人哭止。因呼諸子。以次教誡。兒等悲哀不能自勝。及慰勉之曰。四時之運。猶有始終。人修短殊。誰不致此。語千餘言。皆合文章。兒又問曰。人亡皆無所知。唯大人聰明殊特。有神靈耶。答曰。鬼神之事。非爾所知也。因索紙筆作書。辭義滿紙。投地遂絕。出列異傳

[1] The Ganlu 甘露 era could refer to either 53-50 BCE, 254-59 CE, 265-66 CE, or 359-64 CE.