Hou Jing’s Tumour 侯景瘤

Hou Jing[1] often had a tumour, which was like a small turtle. Whenever he enjoyed victory, it would grow. On the day of his defeat and death, it shrank by one cun (c. 3.33cm).

Li Rong 李冗, Du yi zhi, 獨異志 (Outstanding Fantastic Stories), 上1.15 (Tale 80):

侯景瘤

侯景常有一瘤,如小龜。每戰勝,龜則起。及其敗死之日,瘤入一寸。

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)

[1] On Hou Jing 侯景 (503-52CE), courtesy name Wanjing 萬景, leader of an uprising against Emperor Wu of Liang in 548 CE, see:  https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BE%AF%E6%99%AF.

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).

 

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).

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 Turtle Understands Fortune and Misfortune 龜知吉凶

Pacification Commissioner Yang Yanzheng and his younger brother had faith in dreams, and both followed previous generations in taking up office in the Pacification Commission via examination. In their household was a great turtle, over two chi (c.66cm) in size, and they prepared a turtle chamber in the centre of the hall, feeding it every day with cooked rice or various kinds of pastries. When the two Yangs received promotion, or there was some other type of joy, it would then emerge in leaps and bounds; where there was misfortune, it would then emerge shedding tears. This was truly a turtle spirit!

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.266 (Tale 484):

龜知吉凶

楊安撫炎正與其弟夢信,皆以世科官至安撫使。家蓄一大龜,二尺餘,作龜室於堂奧,每日飼以飯或餅餌之屬。二楊偶有除擢,或有他喜,則跳躍而出;或有凶事,則出而淚下。信乎龜之靈也!

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).

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).

Strange Events in Xuanhe (1119-25) 宣和怪事

During the Zhenghe era (1111-18) in the reign of the Song emperor Huizong (1100-25), a thing as big as a sitting-mat appeared at night in the imperial bedroom. Whenever it emerged this was preceded by a sound as if the room were being torn apart. It would then manifest, more than a zhang (3.33m) across, shaped somewhat like a turtle, making a clanging noise as it moved, but, shrouded in a dark mist, it could not be seen clearly. A bloody miasma spread around it to all four directions, and weapons had no effect against it. Further, it sometimes changed into human form, or that of a donkey, and could speak with a human voice. Many times it appeared in residences for the palace staff, and once appeared within the inner halls. Despite occultist scholars repeatedly banning it remained unaffected. Later on people grew accustomed to the presence, and felt no great fear.

In the fourth year of the Xuanhe era (1122), Jin people captured the Central Capital, and the Song sent the Imperial Preceptor Tong Guan (1054-1126) to lead the army against them. At that time a white halo ringed the sun and every night streams of meteors crossed the Heavenly Ford and the Herdsman, jumping the Milky Way, the Big Dipper and Altair and hurtling together into the south.

When the armies engaged, there was a huge earthquake in Xiongzhou, and a horse grew two horns of four chi (a chi is about 33.cm), and grew huge. The imperial guard presented this to the throne, and it was thought to be a horse-dragon.

In the first moon of the sixth year (19 January to 16 February, 1124), an earthquake shook the eastern capital, and later another earthquake was felt in Sanhe; sounds of quaking came from the gate of the imperial palace’s central chamber. In Hedong and Shanyou this was especially pronounced, and in the Lanzhou region trees and plants on the various mountains were swallowed by the earth, while wheat seedlings sown in the valleys rose upon the peaks.[1]

In the eighth moon of the seventh year (31 August to 28 September, 1125), a vegetable seller, on reaching the Xuande Gate, suddenly became confused and returned, pointing his finger at the gate and saying: “You have ruined our country! Our Supreme Ancestor the Shenzong Emperor set us on the way; we can still change back to that.” Soldiers on patrol seized him and locked him in the Kaifeng jail; none understood his speech, and within a single evening he had died in prison.[2]

One day, as the emperor entered the Xuanhe Hall, the ground caved in.[3] On the first day of the first moon a statue of a deity in the Jingling Palace was seen to shed tears. Clerks on duty in the imperial ancestral temple heard the sound of weeping, and on inspection found blood emerging from the bricks, seeping out again when it was swept away; all of this continued over several days.[4]

On Wansui Peak a group of foxes were seen to toast one another; it was ordered that they be beaten, but they [57] scattered. A fox emerged from a prison in the northeast and entered the palace precincts, seating itself on the imperial divan.[5]

In the twelfth moon (27 December, 1125 to 24 January, 1126), the Grand Secretary Wu Min submitted a memorial to the throne: “The capital has heard that enemies are making a great incursion and people’s sensibilities are shaken. Some want to flee, some want to mount a defence, some want to rebel over it; if these three types have to coexist within the country, the realm must be destroyed. Your servant has often prayed in the ancestral temple, and received a dream, but does not dare to report its content.” The emperor said: “Do not fear this.” Min said: “Your servant has often dreamed of a river, to its north, a coil-haired golden-bodied Buddha, its length reaching the borders of heaven. To the south of the water, a jade figure with an iron-hooped fish basket, called Mengzi by the people. To the south of Mengzi is a body of water, and to the south of that a mountain slope, and your servant was on that, people called it ‘Taishang Mountain’. Your servant once said to himself: “That to the north of the water is Hebei, that to the south Henan. The Buddha represents the Jin, and the Taishang Your Majesty, but it is not clear what Mengzi means. Some among the Central Secretariat have instructed your servant: ‘This Mengzi represents the imperial eldest son.’” There was thus a consultation on establishing the crown prince.

In the eleventh moon, offerings were made in the southern suburbs, and when the ceremony was complete the emperor descended from the altar and received a report from the frontier. When the imperial progress reached the Duancheng Hall of the Jiao Palace the dawn light was not yet clear. The various officials came forward to make their congratulations but suddenly heard the hoot of an owl from the roof of the hall, as if making its obeisances; those who heard it were shocked. No more than a month later, the emperor abdicated and suddenly went south. The following year, the city fell, the realm was humiliated, and this all took place in the Duancheng Hall.

Anon., , Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.56-57 (Tale 99):

宣和怪事

宋徽宗朝政和年間,有物大如席,夜見寢殿上。每出則先若裂屋摧倒聲,然後現形,廣丈餘,狀髣髴如龜,行動硜硜有聲,黑氣蒙蒙,不大了了。氣之所及,腥血四灑,兵刃皆不能施。又或變為人、為驢形,得人語聲則作矣。多在掖庭宮人所居之地,亦嘗及內殿。雖方士屢禁,自若,後習為常,人亦不大怖。宣和四年,金人陷中京,宋遣太師童貫出師,是時白虹貫日,連夕有流星犯天津、河鼓,越天漢、斗牛,皆向南奔曳。及用兵,雄州地大震,馬生角長二尺四,皆出距。貫以進御,以為龍馬。六年正月,東都地震,後三河又震,宮中殿門震動作聲。河東、陝右尤甚,蘭州地及諸山草木悉没入地,山下麥苗乃在山上。七年八月,有賣菜夫至宣德門,忽迷歸,向門戟手指而言曰:「汝壞吾社稷矣!太祖神宗皇帝使我來道,尚宜速改也。」邏卒捕下開封獄,一夕已省,不知所云,特於獄中盡之。一日帝御宣和殿,地陷。朔旦見景靈宮神像有淚,吏守太廟者聞哭聲,即之,乃神宗廟室有塼出血,隨掃又出,數日方止。萬歲山上羣狐杯酌對飲,敕拍之,皆 [57] 散。有一狐自艮獄來,入宮禁,於御榻而坐。十二月,給事中吳敏奏曰:「今京師聞虜人大入,人情震動,有欲出走者,有欲守者,有欲因而返者,以三種人共守一國,國必破。臣常私禱於宗廟,得之夢寐,不敢奏陳。」上曰:「無妨。」敏曰: 「臣常夢水之北,螺髻金身之佛,其長際天。水之南,鐵籠罩一玉像,人謂之孟子。孟子之南又一水,水南有山陂陁,而臣在其間,人曰『太上山』。臣嘗私解之曰:『水北河北也,南者江南也,佛者金人,太上陛下也,但不曉所謂孟子。有中書舍人席益諭臣曰:『孟子者,元子也。』」遂定立太子之議。十一月祀南郊,禮畢,降壇而得邊報。及上御郊宮之端誠殿,時天未明,百辟方稱賀,忽有鴟鴞嗚於殿屋之上,若贊拜聲,聞者駭之。未踰月,內禪,俄而南幸。明年城陷,國家被辱,皆在端誠殿焉。

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] A parallel account is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), p. 101:

In the intercalary month, there was an earthquake in the capital, and the buildings of the palace complex shook and rumbled audibly. Trees and vegetation on the mountains in both Shaanxi and Lanzhou sank into the earth. Cultivated crops which had once grown below the mountains now grew atop them. The court sent Huang Qianshan to handle the situation; but he returned with nothing but misleading reports and never revealed the true state of affairs to his superiors.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), p. 79:

閏月,京師地震,宮中殿門皆搖動有聲。又陝西、蘭州諸山草木皆沒入地中;其黍苗在山下者,又生於山上。朝廷遣黃潛善按視,潛善歸謂訛傳,不以實聞於上。

[2] A parallel account is found in Anon., Xuanhe yishi 宣和遺事 [Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period]. William O. Hennessey (tr.), Proclaiming Harmony, Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, 41 (Ann Arbor, MI, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1991), pp. 102-3:

In the eighth month, a produce vendor from the eastern suburbs of the [103] capital suddenly appeared at the Gate of Virtue Proclaimed and threw a fit. He dropped his carrying pole and hacked at the gate with his hands, crying, “Emperors Taizu and Shenzong bade me come here. The Eighth Son’s pride and extravagance are bringing the nation to ruin. There’s still time for him to change his ways, however, if he does so quickly. Otherwise, his regrets will be too late!” The guard arrested him and took him off to the city jail. He came to his senses later that evening. He was interrogated time and time again, yet he had no recollection of what he had said. He was secretly executed in the prison.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi 新刊大宋宣和遺事 (Neglected Events of the Proclaiming Harmony Regnal Period: A New Edition) (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1954), p. 80:

八月,有都城東門外賣菜夫突入宣德門下,忽若迷罔,將菜擔拋棄,向門戟手而言曰:「太祖皇帝、神宗皇帝使我來到。八郎驕奢喪國,尚宜速改也!不爾,悔無及矣!」邏卒捕其人赴開封府獄。一夕,其人方甦,再三詢問,竟不知向所言者。密於獄中殺之。

[3] Another parallel account, dated to the twelfth moon of the first year Chonghe (roughly February-March 1119) is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 40:

In the twelfth month, the emperor installed Wang Fu and other holders of the Secret Seal in the palace. On the day when he went to the Palace of Proclaiming Harmony, the ground there caved in.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, p. 28:

十二月,御殿度王黼等祕籙。徽宗一日御宣和殿,地陷。

[4] A parallel account is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 103:

On the fifteenth day of the first month in that year, tears appeared on the statue of the first emperor in the Temple of Refulgent Spirits. The temple watchmen said they often heard weeping within the temple. One day, blood began to seep through the bricks in the changing room of Emperor Shenzong. As soon as it was wiped away, more would appear. This went on continuously for several days. Cai Jing and his cronies were so concerned with flattery and sycophancy that when they heard about this strange phenomenon they were too timid to tell the emperor about it, and his arrogant and prodigal behaviour grew worse.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, pp. 28-29:

宣和元年,正月朔旦,朝見景靈喀,見聖祖神像有淚。守廟官吏聞之廟內常有哭聲。一日,神宗皇帝廟室便殿,有甎出血,隨掃又出,數日方止。是時蔡京等方事諛佞,有此異事,皆 [29] 不敢聞奏於上。而徽宗驕奢之行愈肆矣。

[5] Another parallel is found in Xuanhe yishi. Hennessey, Proclaiming Harmony, p. 103:

At about that time, a pack of foxes from Longevity Mountain settled into the palace and had a drinking party. Soldiers were sent to drive the foxes out, but they temporized and would not go. In the ninth month, foxes from Upright Hill entered the inner palace and sat on the throne. The majordomo of the palace sent the attendant Zhang Shan to drive them out, but he procrastinated and would not go. Huizong knew in his heart this was not a very auspicious sign. But Cai You twisted the argument around and said that it was because the Fox King wanted blood that these things had happened. So an edict was issued ordering the destruction of the Fox King’s temple.

Anon., Xinkan dasong xuanhe yishi, pp. 80-81:

是時萬歲山羣狐於宮殿間陳設器皿對飲,遣兵士逐之,徬徨不去。九月,有狐自艮岳山 [81] 直入中禁,據御榻而坐;殿帥遣殿司張山逐之,徘徊不去。徽宗心知其為不祥之徵,而蔡攸曲為邪說,稱艮岳有狐王求血食乃爾。遂下詔毀狐王廟。