Wang Chengzhi 王騁之

The wife of Wang Chengzhi, from Langxie, was from the Xie clan of Chen Prefecture. She gave birth to a son, whose childhood name was Nuzi. After a year had passed, Wang summoned one of his wife’s maids to advance as his concubine. Xie fell ill and died in the eighth year of the Yuanjia era (431 CE). Wang’s graveyard was in Guiji, so she was temporarily interred on the eastern ridge at Jiankang. After the burial, when they had completed the fanyu funerary rite, he returned quickly by sedan chair. He was leaning on a table when he was pushed from the empty air and shoved over onto the floor. An angry voice then spoke: “Why did you not sing my lament? Do you order me to depart in silence?” Chengzhi replied: “It is not a permanent burial! The rites are therefore not complete.”

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, 325.2577:



Cui Maobo 崔茂伯

The daughter of Cui Maobo married one Pei Zu’er. Her husband’s home was more than five hundred li distant, and after several years had passed she had still not arrived there. During the eighth month, she died suddenly. Pei was not yet aware of this when, as darkness was about to fall, the woman appeared at Pei’s gate, clapping her hands and requesting entry. Carrying a gold jar a little over two sheng (2 litres) in size, she came to his bed and stood before it. Pei told her to sit, and asked where she had come from. The woman told him: “I am the daughter of Cui, Magistrate of Qinghe. While still young I learned of the gentleman’s betrothal to me. Unfortunately I passed away, so our happy union was not to be. Although our wedding feast will never take place, we are already united in purpose, and I therefore came to inform the gentleman.” She then presented Pei with the gold vessel as a parting gift.

After she had departed, Pei informed his father of the matter. His father wanted to send a message to confirm this, but Pei said: “Betrothed to the Cuis as a child, we should not now react like this. I should go there in person.” His father permitted this. When Pei arrived, the woman had indeed been buried, so they exchanged condolences, and Pei described the whole affair, bringing out the jar to show Maobo. This had been placed with the woman in her grave, so they all went to visit the tomb. More than ten li before they arrived, Pei saw the woman again, and she spoke to him. Those around him all heard her voice, but were unable to see her form. Pei yearned to be united with her, and soon fell ill and died. They were buried together.

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, 324.2574:



Liu Juan 劉雋

At the beginning of the Yuanjia era (424-53 CE), the Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary Liu Juan, whose home was in Danyang, once encountered a sudden shower of rain.[1] Before his gate he saw three small boys, all perhaps six or seven sui (five to six years old), joking around together, their faces not, however, getting damp. Presently, he saw them tussle over a large gourd pot. Juan took up a pebble and threw, hitting the pot squarely. The boys suddenly vanished, so Juan took up the pot and hung it by his office. The following day, a woman entered his gate, picked up the pot, and started to weep. When Juan asked her why, she replied: “This belonged to my son. I don’t know how it got here.” Juan told her what had happened, and the woman took the pot and buried it before her son’s grave. After a day had passed, another small boy arrived carrying it before the gate. Lifting the pot, he smiled at Juan and said: “My pot has been returned to me!” As soon it had finished speaking it disappeared.

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, 324.2571:



[1] On the rank of Cavalier Attendant-In-ordinary (sanjichangshi 散騎常侍), see Hucker, Dictionary, p. 395.

Qin Shu 秦樹

The house of Qin Shu, of Pei Prefecture, was in Xiaoxin Village, within Qu’e. He was once returning from the capital, and was still more than twenty li distant when the sky darkened and he lost his way. In the distance he saw the light of a fire, so headed towards it. Eventually he saw a woman emerge holding a candle, but she told him: “I am a woman living alone, and may not invite guests to stay.” Shu said: “I need to get back to the road, but lost my way in the depths of night and was unable to go on. Please let me stay out here.” The woman assented to this. Shu then advanced and sat down, and it became clear that his host was indeed alone in a single room. Shu worried that her husband might come, and did not dare to sleep. The woman said: “Why be so suspicious? Keep calm. We should not suspect one another unjustly.” She laid out food for Shu, all of which was extremely old-fashioned in style. Shu said: “The lady has not yet married. I too have not yet married, and wish to marry. Could we be united?” The woman laughed: “Look at your servant’s lowly status; how could we possibly be man and wife?” She then withdrew within for the night. Around dawn Shu departed, and they clasped hands in parting. The woman said: “I have seen the gentleman once, but will never show my face again.” She then gave him a ring, which he tied to his belt, and saw him out through the gate. Shu walked hurriedly away for several paces with his head down. When he turned to see the place where he had stayed, it was just a tomb. For several days he forgot about the ring, but there it was tied up in his belt as before.

From Zhenyilu.

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, 324.2568:



Wang Hu 王胡

Wang Hu lived under [Liu] Song rule (420-79 CE), and was from Chang’an. His paternal uncle had been dead some years when, in the twenty-third year of the Yuanjia era (446 CE), he suddenly reappeared and returned to the family home. He demanded Hu improve his conduct, in which there were defects, family affairs having been neglected. He punished Hu with five strokes of the cane. Passersby people in the neighbourhood heard both their conversation and the noise of the beating. They could also see the welts left by the cane, but could not see the manifestation, which appeared only to Hu himself. His uncle told Hu: “I did not deserve death. The tomb passage waits for my number to appear on the register of spirits. Today there will be a great gathering of officials and troops, and I fear that the village may come to harm, so I do not set out.” Hu could also make out a crowd of spirits in noise and disorder beyond the village boundary.

Presently his uncle said goodbye and departed, telling him: “I will come on the seventh day of the seventh month. This will be short visit, and I wish to take you along the roads of the nether world, to make you understand the consequences of virtue and of evil. There is no need to be extravagant in laying out offerings; tea and cakes will suffice.”

When the day came, he did indeed return. He told Hu’s family: “I’m now taking Hu to see the sights. When the trip is complete he will return. There is no reason for alarm.” Hu then felt tired and laid on his bed, then became quite still, as if he were quite dead. His uncle then took Hu deep into the mountain ranges, where they observed the various spirits and demons. Finally, they reached the highest peaks, and the various spirits spoke to Hu, and also laid out food. The produce and flavours were not so different from those in the world of the living, but the ginger was especially fresh and delicious. Hu yearned for this, and was about to return when those around him laughed and told him: “You should stay and eat this. You won’t get far anyway.”

Hu saw a further place, a vast and beautiful building, with gorgeous canopies and elegant bamboo mats. There were [2565] two young monks living in it, and when Hu arrived they laid out a great spread of fruit, betel nuts and other produce. Hu spent a long time travelling, and saw all the conequences of virtue and vice, both sweet and bitter. He then said his farewells to return, and his uncle told him: “You now understand the need to cultivate virtue. When you return home seek the white-foot āranya temple; these people are ascetics of the highest order, and you should afford them respect as your teachers.” These priests of Chang’an had white feet, and so were known to people at that time as the white-foot āranya.[1] They were shown great respect by Wei Lu, with Prince Lu revering them as his teachers.[2]

Hu followed these instructions, travelling to study at Gaoshan with a young monk. Amid the crowds, however, he suddenly caught sight of those two monks. Hu was greatly shocked, and went to speak to them, asking when they had arrived. The two monks replied: “We poor clerics belong to this very temple. We are not aware of any prior acquaintance with the gentleman.” Hu again described their meeting in the high mountains, but the assembled monks told him: “The gentleman is simply mistaken. How could that have taken place?” When the next day dawned, however, the two monks had departed without saying farewell. Hu thus informed the gathered Buddhist monks about the whole matter, and his meeting with the two monks on Gaoshan. The crowd were all astonished, and sent people to seek the pair of monks, but their location remains unknown.

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, 323.2564-65:


宋王胡者。長安人也。叔死數載。元嘉二十三年。忽形見還家。責胡以修謹有缺。家事不理。罰胡五杖。傍人及鄰里。並聞其語及杖聲。又見杖瘢。而不見其形。唯胡獨得親接。叔謂胡曰。吾不應死。神道須吾筭諸鬼錄。今大從吏兵。恐驚損鄉里。故不將進耳。胡亦大見衆鬼紛鬧于村外。俄而辭去曰。吾來年七月七日。當復暫還。欲將汝行。遊歷幽途。使知罪福之報也。不須費設。若意不已。止可茶食耳。至期果還。語胡家人云。吾今將胡遊觀。觀畢當還。不足憂也。胡即頓臥牀上。泯然如盡。叔於是將胡遍觀群山。備觀鬼怪。末至嵩高山。諸鬼道胡。並有饌設。其品味不異世中。唯姜甚脆美。胡懷之將還。左右人笑云。止可此食。不得將遠也。胡又見一處。屋宇華曠。帳筵精美。有 [2565] 二少僧居焉。胡造之。二僧為設雜果梹榔等。胡遊歷久之。備見罪福苦樂之報。及辭歸。叔謂曰。汝即已知善之當修。返家尋白足阿練。此人戒行精高。可師事也。長安道人足白。故時人謂為白足阿練也。甚為魏虜所敬。虜王事為師。胡即奉此訓。遂與嵩山上年少僧者遊學。衆中忽見二僧。胡大驚。與敘乖闊。問何時來此。二僧云。貧道本住此寺。往日不意與君相識。胡復說嵩高之遇。衆僧云。君謬耳。豈有此耶。至明日。二僧不辭而去。胡乃具告諸沙門。敘說往日嵩山所見。衆咸驚怪。即追求二僧。不知所在。

[1] Sanskrit Āranya (hermitage, monastery) is transliterated in Chinese here as Alian 阿練, and elsewhere as Lanre/lanruo 蘭若 or Elianre/Alianruo 阿練若.

[2] This Wei Lu 魏虜 is not yet identified. Needs more work!

Lü Shun 呂順

[2552] When Lü Shun had prepared his wife for burial, he wished to marry a younger paternal cousin of hers. He therefore prepared three tombs, but each fell into disrepair and not one was completed. One day Shun was lying down during the daytime when he saw his wife coming to him. She got into bed with him, her body as cold as ice. Shun spoke of the differences between living and dead, and sent her away. His wife later also saw her younger relative, and told her, angrily: “How many males are there under heaven? Yet you and I have to share a husband. He may not be able to finish those tombs. I will do it.” Presently both husband and wife passed away.

From Youminglu.

(uncertain translation)

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, 322.2551-52:


[2552] 呂順喪婦。要娶妻之從妹。因作三墓。構累垂就。輒無成。一日順晝臥。見其婦來就同寢。體冷如冰。順以死生之隔。語使去。後婦又見其妹。怒曰。天下男子復何限。汝乃與我共一婿。作冢不成。我使然也。俄而夫婦俱殪。出幽明錄

Li Yuanming 李元明

Li Yuanming of Qiantang was once lying on his bed at midnight when he suddenly heard a person call out: “Yuanming! Yuanming! You should have gone a long time ago.” Two people then led him away, taking him to an underground room and leaving him there. He didn’t know where he was, but once a little time had passed he could finally begin to see something. Stroking the couch on which he was seated, it turned out to be a coffin, and there were graves to all sides. Terrified, he couldn’t settle, and wanted to get out, but this would be as difficult as ascending into the heavens, and he was unable to escape. His family were searching the surroundings, unable to tell where he had gone. They instructed the servants to call out his name in unison. Yuanming heard this from inside the tomb and answered faintly. They then chiseled away the door and rescued 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, 321.2546:



Ren Huairen 任懷仁

In the first year of the Jin Shengping era (357-61 CE), Ren Huairen was thirteen years old, and serving as Administrative Clerk to the Censorate. In his hometown was one Wang Zu, who served as a clerk, and who had long favoured him. By the time Huairen reached fifteen or sixteen, however, they had a number of [2537] disagreements. Zu was resentful, and when he travelled to Jiaxing, he killed Huairen, burying him at the edge of a field by the home of one Xu Zu. Later, when Zu happened to be taking a rest by the field, he suddenly noticed the presence of this grave. At each of his three daily eating times, dawn, noon and evening, he would divided his meal and make an offering to it, and call out: “Spirit at the head of the field, come share my food.” When he closed his eyes to sleep, he would also say: “Come and share my rest.” This went on for some time.

Later, one night he suddenly saw a person manifest. It addressed him: “Tomorrow my family will make offerings to mark the end of the mourning period. These offerings will be especially generous, and the gentleman should go there along with me.” Zu said: “I’m a mortal; we should not appear to one another.” The spirit told him: “I will hide the gentleman.” Zu then set off following the spirit, and after a short period they reached his home. There were many guests at the house, and the spirit led Zu up to the spirit tablet. The great spread of food then vanished, and the gathered family all cried out and wept, unable to control themselves, saying that their son had returned. He then saw Wang Zu arrive, and said: “This is my killer. I still fear him.” He then departed, and Xu Zu suddenly became visible. The family were quite shocked, and questioned him, at which he related the whole affair. They then followed Zu to pay respects at the grave. Once they had departed, the spirit never returned.

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, 320.2536-37:


晉升平元年。任懷仁年十三。為台書佐。鄉里有王祖復為令史。恒寵之。懷仁已十五六矣。頗有異 [2537] 意。祖銜恨。至嘉興。殺懷仁。以棺殯埋於徐祚家田頭。祚後宿息田上。忽見有塚。至朝中暮三時食。輒分以祭之。呼云。田頭鬼。來就我食。至瞑眠時。亦云。來伴我宿。如此積時。後夜忽見形云。我家明當除服作祭。祭甚豐厚。君明隨去。祚云。我是生人。不當相見。鬼云。我自隱君形。祚便隨鬼去。計行食頃。便到其家。家大有客。鬼將祚上靈座。大食滅。合家號泣。不能自勝。謂其兒還。見王祖來。便曰。此是殺我人。猶畏之。便走出。祚即形露。家中大驚。具問祚。因敘本末。遂隨祚迎喪。既去。鬼便斷絕。出幽明錄

A Jiangzhou Clerk 江州錄事

Under the Jin, when Huan Baonu[1] was serving in Jiangzhou, there was a copyist named Gan, whose home was below the Linchuan prefectural offices. When, aged thirteen, Gan’s son fell ill and died, he buried the boy amid a crowd of tombs to the east of his house. Ten days later, he suddenly heard the sound of drumming, singing and music coming from the eastern road. Perhaps a hundred people passed along it to reach the Gan household and asked: “Is the copyist there? We came to call upon him, and his virtuous son is also with us.” Only voices were heard; no shapes of bodies were visible. He then brought out several earthenware wine jars and handed them over. They tipped and vanished, and then the two jars returned, both quite empty, and he heard the sound of drumbeats start up again. The Linchuan prefectural chief said that this had been a trick committed by someone, and that they must come forward and identify themselves, but after time passed none had. When Gan was heard to speak of the affair he was very alarmed.

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, 319.2527:



[1] This seems to be Huan Si 桓嗣, courtesy name Gongzu 恭祖, childhood name Baonu 豹奴, grandson of Huan Yi 桓彝 (276-328 CE). His brief biography is found at Jinshu 74.1953.

Zhou Of Linhe 周臨賀

During the Jin era there was a man from Yixing with the surname Zhou. During the Yonghe era (345-57 CE), he set off from Guo on horseback, travelling with two followers. Dusk fell before they had reached the next settlement, but beside the road there stood a small, newly built thatched hut. They saw a woman emerge from the doorway to watch them, aged perhaps sixteen or seventeen, handsome in appearance and wearing fresh and clean clothes. Seeing Zhou pass, she said: “It is already dusk, and the next village is still distant; how could you have reached Linhe?” Zhou then asked if he could lodge there. The woman kindled a fire and cooked him a meal. Around the first watch (7-9pm), the voice of a small child was heard from outside, calling out to Axiang.[1] The woman replied: “Yes?” Soon after, the child said: “The officials call on you to push the thunder chariot!” The woman then departed, saying: “I have some business to attend to, and must go.” The night then filled with thunder and rain, and the woman returned around daybreak. When Zhou had mounted his horse, he looked back at the place where he had spent the night. He saw only a new tomb, with horse urine and straw scattered around the tomb entrance. Zhou sighed to himself in shock and amazement. Five years later, he was indeed serving as Prefectural Chief of Linhe.

From Fayuan Zhulin.

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, 319.2525:



[1] Axiang 阿香 is the name of the deity who drove the thunder chariot 雷車 across the skies.