A Pig’s Earring 猪耳鐶

The gentleman Jiang Songwei travelled from Shu via Xia, and on reaching the Yun’an Pass killed a pig as a temple sacrifice. When it came to washing the offering, he saw a single ring below one ear, inky coloured, clear and glistening; it must have formerly been a person and a thieving criminal.[1]

Hong Mai, Yi Jian Zhi, ii, 丙18.514



Hong Mai 洪邁, He Zhuo 何卓 (ed.), Yi Jian Zhi 夷堅志 (Record of Yi Jian) 4 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981)

[1] This refers to the practice of tattooing a ring behind the ear as punishment for convicted thieves or bandits. On this practice, see Songshi 宋史 201.5018; Carrie E. Reed, ‘Tattoo in Early China’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 120 (2000), 360-76: 365. (the article is available online here)

Discard Water, Attract Sickness 棄水招疾

Great Master Zhifeng of Five Cloud Peak in Hangzhou was sitting one day, very tired, in the Samantabhadra Hall, when a deity appeared before him and spoke: “I am one of the guardian spirits. The master has committed a small offence, and I dare not [96] omit to report it.” Zhifeng said: “What have I done wrong?” The spirit replied: “The water used when an alms bowl is washed out is also the property of the donor. The master always discards it, and this is not correct. From this will come a minor illness.” When this speech was over it vanished. Afterwards Zhifeng did indeed suffer a sickness of the stomach. Thirteen years later he died.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.96 (Tale 163):


杭州五雲山志逢大師,一日,閑坐於普賢殿中,俄一神於前曰:「吾護戒神也。師有小過,不 [96] 敢不告。」志逢曰:「吾有何過?」神曰:「且如滌缽水,亦施主物,師每棄之,非宜也。自此當有小病。」言訖遂隱。後志逢果患胃疾,十三年而卒。

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).