Dongfang Shuo 東方朔

[2840] When Emperor Wu of Han (156-87 BCE, r. 141-87 BCE) travelled east, he arrived at the Hangu Pass, where he found a thing in the road, its body several zhang in length (a zhang is c. 3.33m), and like an elephant ox in shape, with dark eyes and a sparking energy, its four feet buried in the earth, moving around but not travelling. The various officials were very alarmed, but Dongfang Shuo[1] requested wine to pour upon it. He poured out several dozen hu, and it disappeared. The emperor asked why, and he replied: “This is called a you (i.e., a ‘sorrow’); it is born of suffering. This must have been the site of a Qin prison, or, if not that, a site where prisoners were gathered and moved. As wine removes sorrows, we were able to make it disappear.” The emperor said: “Only an expert in the natural world could deal with this.”

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), viii, 359.2839-40:


[2840] 漢武帝東遊。至函谷關。有物當道。其身長數丈。其狀象牛。青眼而曜精。四足入土。動而不徙。百官驚懼。東方朔乃請酒灌之。灌之數十斛而消。帝問其故。答曰。此名憂。患之所生也。此必是秦之獄地。不然。罪人徙作地聚。夫酒忘憂。故能消之也。帝曰。博物之士。至於此乎。出搜神記

[1] This is Dongfang Shuo 東方朔 (c.160-c.93 BCE, courtesy name Manqian 曼倩), a famous writer and Daoist of the Former Han court. On him see; Hanshu 65.2841-74.

Immortal Lü’s Sword Bag 呂仙劍袋

The mother of Chancellor Jia, Lady of the Two Realms, had organised meals for mendicant Daoists, when suddenly a crowd of Daoist priests came supporting a pregnant woman who was about to give birth. Before the refectory could even pause, she gave birth to a baby on the ground. The crowd of priests then picked her up and departed, leaving the infant on the floor. When people picked the baby up, it turned out to be a bag of swords. They then realised that Duke Lü [131] was exercising his spirit to play jokes on common customs.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.130-31 (Tale 227):


賈平章母兩國夫人設雲水道人閒(明刻本、明抄本無「閒」宇。)齋,忽有羣道人扶一孕婦將產而來。齋未罷,產嬰兒在地,羣道人即扶女子而去,只留嬰兒在地。扶起嬰兒,乃一劍袋也。始知呂公 [131] 弄精魂以戲凡俗云。

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).