Entering Water, Saving Mother 赴水救母

When Su Song (1020-1101)[1] was Governor of Wuzhou, his mother, Lady of the Wei Realm, boarded a boat to visit him at his place of work, and the gentleman had set out to meet her. While going upstream on the Xiang River, they encountered a rapid torrent, and the boat turned side-on to the flow and threatened to capsize. The gentleman cried out, and without fear of the water swam out to save her. Before long, the boat suddenly recovered its alignment, allowing the lady to climb onto the bank. It then capsized. It is certain that, moved by his earnest filial piety, the spirits acted to shield and support her; this is the only explanation of this occurrence.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前1.18 (Tale 29):

赴水救母

蘇頌知婺州日,其母魏國夫人方乘舟而來任所,公往迎迓。偶泝湘江,水暴迅,舟橫欲覆,公哀號,不懼水漲,赴水救之。未及,舟忽自正,及夫人甫出抵岸,舟乃覆。信知孝誠所感,神物護持,方能至此。

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] On the polymath Su Song 蘇頌, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_Song.

 

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The Henggong Fish 橫公魚

In the northern wastes there is a Lake Shi, a thousand li on each side. The banks are over five zhang high (one zhang is c. 3.3m), and it is permanently frozen, thawing only for forty or fifty days in summer. There lives the Henggong Fish, seven to eight chi in length (more than 2 metres), shaped like a carp and red. In daytime they stay in the water, but at night take human form. Stabbing will not pierce them, boiling will not kill them. Only a fire of two dark plum branches will finish them off. Eating them will halt illness caused by malign influence.

From Shenyilu.

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), x, 464.3822:

北方荒中有石湖。方千里。岸深五丈餘。恒氷。唯夏至左右五六十日解耳。有橫公魚。長七八尺。形如鯉而赤。晝在水中。夜化為人。刺之不入。煮之不死。以烏梅二枚煮之則死。食之可止邪病。出神異錄

Crocodiles 骨雷

Crocodiles come from the realm of Funan, being two or three zhang in length (i.e. 10 to 13 metres), with four feet, like a gecko in shape. They frequently swallow people whole, and the princes of Funan order people to catch these fish and place them in their moats, so that criminals can be thrown to them. If they are worthy of death, the crocodiles will eat them; if they are without guilt, this will be scented and they will not be eaten. Crocodiles are also called hulei; bears are able to control them, grasping their snouts and dragging them to the bank, then pulling them apart and eating them. Also known as gulei, they transform into tigers in autumn, having three talons, and issue forth from the two prefectures Si and Lei in Nanhai; Yingpan Village in Linhai has many of them.

From Zhiwenji.

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), x, 464.3822:

骨雷

扶南國出鱷魚。大者二三丈。四足。似守宮狀。常生吞人。扶南王令人捕此魚。置於塹中。以罪人投之。若合死。鱷魚乃食之。無罪者。嗅而不食。鱷魚別號忽雷。熊能制之。握其觜至岸。裂擘食之。一名骨雷。秋化為虎。三爪。出南海思雷二州。臨海英潘村多有之。

出洽聞記

A Fox-Dragon 狐龍

Beneath Lishan there was a white fox. It startled and bothered the people below the peak, but they were unable to get rid of it. One day during the Tang Ganfu era (874-80 CE), it suddenly took a bath in a hot spring. Before long, clouds arose and mists bubbled up, and a violent wind began to blow. It transformed into a white dragon, ascended the clouds and departed. For some time afterwards there was dark and gloom, and people frequently saw the white dragon soaring over the mountain’s flanks. This continued for three years. Then an old man appeared, approaching each night and weeping before the peak. After several days people waited for him and asked him why. The old man said: “My Fox-Dragon is dead. That is the reason.” They asked him why he called it a fox-dragon, and again why he wept. The old man said: “The fox-dragon was a fox and became a dragon. After three years it died. I am the fox-dragon’s son.” The people questioned him again, asking: “How can a fox turn into a dragon?” The old man replied: “This fox grew endowed with the vital energy of the west, its whiskers white in colour. It did not travel with the crowds, did not join with its vicinity. The fox was entrusted with the skirts of Lishan for more than a thousand years. Later, it happened to unite with a female dragon. The heavens were aware of this, and so decreed it become a dragon, and also that, like a human, it could leave the mortal plane and become a sage.” When he had finished speaking he vanished.

From Qishiji.

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), x, 455.3718:

狐龍

驪山下有一白狐。驚撓山下人。不能去除。唐乾符中。忽一日突溫泉自浴。須臾之間。雲蒸霧湧。狂風大起。化一白龍。昇天而去。後或陰暗。往往有人見白龍飛騰山畔。如此三年。忽有一老父。每臨夜。即哭於山前。數日。人乃伺而問其故。老父曰。我狐龍死。故哭爾。人問之。何以名狐龍。老父又何哭也。老父曰。狐龍者。自狐而成龍。三年而死。我狐龍之子也。人又問曰。狐何能化為龍。老父曰。此狐也。稟西方之正氣而生。胡白色。不與衆遊。不與近處。狐託於驪山下千餘年。後偶合於雌龍。上天知之。遂命為龍。亦猶人間自凡而成聖耳。言訖而滅。

出奇事記

Frogs Of The Moonlight Pool 玄陰池蛙

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and he often travelled with goods to Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed him: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian to the west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood by the poolside, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to delude people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination), 1.1-2 (Tale 2):

玄陰池蛙

有石憲者,其籍編太原,以商為業,常行貨於代北。長慶二年夏中於雁門關行道中,時暑方甚,因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧,蜂目,被褐衲,其狀甚異,來憲前,謂曰:「我廬於五臺山之南,有窮林積水,出塵俗甚遠,實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎?卽不能,吾見檀越病熱且死,得 [2] 無悔於心耶?」憲以時暑方盛,僧且以禍福語相動,因謂僧曰:「願與師偕往。」於是其僧引憲西去,且數里,果有窮林積水,見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之,僧曰:「此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中,且以蕩炎燠。」於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中,又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮,有一僧曰:「檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。」於是憲立池旁,羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃,有一僧挈手曰:「檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池,慎無懼。」憲卽隋僧入池中,忽覺一身盡冷,噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下,衣盡濕,而寒慄且甚。時已日暮,卽抵村舍中。至明日,病稍愈。因行於道,聞道中忽有蛙鳴,甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之,行數里,見窮林積水,有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者,其僧乃羣蛙爾。憲曰:「此蛙能幻形以惑於人,豈非怪之尤者乎!」於是盡殺之。

又見《廣記》卷四七六,題為《石憲》;《紺珠集》卷五,題為《玄陰池》;《類說》卷二三,題為《玄陰池》;《說郛》卷六。《紺珠集》、《類說》、《說郛》引均為節文。

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination) 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)

The version transmitted in the Taiping Guangji varies slightly from this:

Shi Xian 石憲

Someone called Shi Xian was registered in Taiyuan, making his living in trade, and often trading in Daibei. In the summer of the second year Changqing (822 CE), he was travelling through the Yanmenguan. Just then the summer heat was especially intense, so he lay down beneath a large tree. He suddenly dreamed of a monk, with wasp-fierce eyes and wearing a patched jacket and robe, very strange in his body-shape, who came before Xian and addressed Xian, saying: “Our hut is to the south of Wutaishan, and there is the Qionglin Pond, far from the world of mortals, and truly a place for a group of monks to avoid the summer heat. Will our lucky benefactor accompany me there? If unable to, I can see that my benefactor is afflicted by the heat and close to death; [2] would that not be a cause for regret?” Xian was extremely bothered by the temperature, and, as the monk also talked with him of future events, he addressed the monk: “I am willing to go with the master.” The monk then led Xian going west, and, going several li, there was indeed the Qionglin Pond, and he saw a group of monks in the water. Xian marvelled at this and questioned them, at which the monk said: “This is the moonlight pool. Therefore my disciples bathe in it, and also wash away the great heat.” At this he led Xian around the pond. Xian merely marvelled at the group of monks in the water, and also noticed that none of their forms were particularly different. Before long dusk fell and one of the monks said: “The gracious benefactor should listen to us disciples as we chant scripture.” At this Xian stood above the pond, and the crowd of monks united their voices in the water and made a great clamour. After a moment, a monk pulled him by the hand, saying: “The gracious benefactor should bathe with us in the moonlight pond; be careful but have no fear.” Xian thus followed the monks into the water, but suddenly felt a great chill over his whole body, shivering and shuddering. At this he awoke with a great shock, to find himself lying back beneath the great tree, with his clothes quite soaking wet, shivering in extreme cold. Night had already fallen when he reached the village hostel. When the next day dawned, his illness had abated slightly, so he took to the road, and along the way he heard the croaking of frogs, sounding just like the monks’ scripture chant. He therefore set out to find them, and after going a few li, came across the Qionglin Pond, where there were very many frogs. That pond was indeed the moonlight pond, and the group of monks were just a bunch of frogs. Xian said: “These frogs can change their shape by magic to move people; this is nothing short of demonic!” He then killed them all. From Xuanshizhi.

Li Fang 李昉, et al., Taiping guangji 太平廣記 (Extensive Gleanings from the Period of Great Harmony), 10 vols (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1961), x, 476.3917:

石憲

有石憲者。其籍編太原。以商為業。常貨於代北。長慶二年夏中。雁門關行道中。時暑方盛。因偃於大木下。忽夢一僧。蜂目被褐衲。其狀甚異。來憲前。謂憲曰。我廬於五臺山之南。有窮林積水。出塵俗甚遠。實羣僧清暑之地。檀越幸偕我而遊乎。卽不能。吾見檀越病熱且死。得無悔於心耶。憲以時暑方盛。僧且以禍福語相動。因謂僧曰。願與師偕去。於是其僧引憲西去。且數里。果有窮林積水。見羣僧在水中。憲怪而問之。僧曰。此玄陰池。故我徒浴於中。且以蕩炎燠。於是引憲環池行。憲獨怪羣僧在水中。又其狀貌無一異者。已而天暮。有一僧曰。檀越可聽吾徒之梵音也。於是憲立池上。羣僧卽於水中合聲而譟。僅食頃。有一僧挈手曰。檀越與吾偕浴於玄陰池。慎無懼。憲卽隋僧入池中。忽覺一身盡冷噤而戰。由是驚悟。見己卧於大木下。衣盡濕。而寒慄且甚。時已日暮。卽抵村舍中。至明日。病稍愈。因行於道。聞道中忽有蛙鳴。甚類羣僧之梵音。於是徑往尋之。行數里。窮林積水。有蛙甚多。其水果名玄陰池者。其僧乃羣蛙。而憲曰。此蛙能易形以感於人。豈非怪尤者乎。於是盡殺之。出宣室志

Repairing Ships, Increasing Longevity 修船增壽

In the bingyin year of the Song Xianchun era (1266), the Administrative Inspector for Linchuan, Nuan Weidao, a scholar of Shu, reported that his region had two stony paths separated by a river whose waters ran fast and wild through all four seasons. Further down there was a deep abyss, and only at that place was it possible to cross, although year in and year out those who drowned there were very numerous, as their small boats struck rocks and sank. A person called Xu Zongren decided to build a large vessel, bound with iron plates at both ends, personally hiring punt-hands who were dedicated to serving passing travellers and committed to performing virtuous works in order to accrue merit. It happened that a Person of the Way called at his gate and praised this order, addressing Xu: “The gentleman’s lifespan is restricted to [112] thirty-two, and ends this year.” On the evening of his birthday, he dreamed that he arrived at a government office, seeing a prince seated high in the hall, with three or four hundred spirits before the gates in wet robes, who presented a scroll to the prince: “Xu Zongren has saved many lives from death, with the utmost merit; we beg that husband and wife should enjoy long life, their descendants receive glory and high rank. The multitude wait only for the Zhongyuan festival; they will then cross the worldly bounds.” The prince gestured to his retinue, and with the following words instructed Zongren: “Special Extension by three ages.” He awoke and marvelled at this. From then on he found wholehearted joy in doing good works. Two of his sons and three of his grandsons served as officials. When Zongren died, people erected a hall for offerings by the side of the crossing, and it stands to this day.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.111-12 (Tale 194):

修船增壽

宋咸淳丙寅,臨川錄參暖昧道,蜀士也,嘗言其鄉有兩石嶠夾出一江,四時皆湍急,下則深淵,惟此處可以立渡,常年溺死者甚衆,蓋船小觸石即碎。有徐宗仁發心造一巨舟,兩頭裹以鐵葉,自僱篙手,專一撐過客人,且建善緣以薦亡者。忽有道人登門稱善命,謂徐曰:「公壽止得三 [112] 十二,止在今年。」生日之夕,夢至官府,見王者坐於堂上,而門首溼衣之鬼約三四百人,執一卷投於王前:「徐宗仁濟生拔死,功德莫大,乞與夫妻壽考,子孫榮貴,衆等只俟中元,即超淨界。」 王者指左右,以此詞示宗仁,云:「特延三紀。」覺而異之。自此一心好善樂施。二子、三孫,後有為官者。宗仁死,人為立祠於渡側,至今尚存。

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)

Release A Dragon, Receive A Reward 放龍獲報

On the bank of the Lu River Li Yuan saw a small scarlet snake. Less than a chi in length, it was being harassed by a shepherd boy. Yuan bought it with a hundred cash, and released it among the thick vegetation. The following year, he was crossing the Long Bridge[1] again, and saw the Jinshi scholar Zhu Jun coming to call on him, saying: “Jun lives just a few hundred paces from the end of the bridge; their Excellency sends an invitation, if you will pardon me and sit.” Leading him to sit together in a boat, they travelled to a mountain, with richly decorated buildings and halls, all very tightly guarded. Presently, a person wearing a tall hat and ceremonial robes summoned Yuan, saying: “Our young son suffered misfortune and almost died at the hands of a mischievous boy; his humble life depended on the gentleman’s help.” Turning to Jun he ordered that he bow again, and then ordered a banquet be laid out, mixing products of land and sea, saying: “I am a fish of the southern seas; having achieved merit in life, the Heavenly Emperor decreed that I reside here, styling me Anliu Wang. I have a young servant, with the childhood name Yunjie, and I now present her to you; if you accept her, she will be of help.” Yuan therefore did not depart. He subsequently went to sit the civil examinations; when the test was due on the following day, Yunjie stealthily obtained the exam questions; Yuan then prepared his composition in advance, and, on entering the examination hall, felt great satisfaction, achieved great success and a recommendation as an imperial scholar. Yunjie said goodbye to him, saying: “I have obeyed the prince’s order and dare not stay long.” A poem of parting read:

Six years here to repay deep benevolence,

Saying farewell to the aquatic realm and the region of fish.

None say that newly-weds should be parted again,

All wish to share ancient love with new people.

Li Yuan was thus newly married at that time.

**uncertain translation**

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 前2.118 (Tale 205):

放龍獲報

李元於吳江岸見小朱蛇,長不滿尺,為牧童所困。元以百錢買之,放於茂草中。明年,再經長橋,有進士朱浚來謁見,曰:「浚居橋尾數百步耳,大人遣奉召,幸恕坐。」邀同舟,至一山,樓殿寶飾,侍衛甚嚴。俄一人高冠道服,引元坐:曰:「小兒不幸,幾死頑童之手,賴君子活此微命。」顧浚令再拜,乃命置酒,水陸交錯,曰:「吾乃南海之鱗,有功於世,天帝詔居此,封安流王。吾有小奴,小字雲姐,今於贈子,子納之,當得其助。」元乃別去。後赴禮闈,明日當試,雲姐私入竊所試題目出,元乃檢閱宿構,入試,大得意,高捷薦名登科。雲姐告辭曰:「奉王命不敢久留。」作詩別曰:「六年於此報深恩,水國魚鄉是去程。莫謂初婚又相別,都將舊愛與新人。」時李元新娶故也。

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)

[1] An ancient structure in Jiangsu Province.