Hostel Pavilion Spiders 館亭蜘蛛

There was a Censor called Wei Jun who was once responsible for Jiangxia. Sent back to the capital with a message, on his return journey he stopped to transact business at a hostel pavilion. He suddenly noticed a white spider descending from one of the pavilion columns, its body extremely small. Wei Jun said: “This is a danger to people. I have heard that, though small, when it bites people even good medicine has no effect.” He therefore directed that it be killed. Presently he saw another white one descending, and had it killed like the last one. Looking up beyond it he saw that the web led to a lair, so he ordered his retinue to fetch a broom and sweep it all away, and said: “I have now eliminated the threat to life.” The following day, wishing to leave, he touched the column with his hand as he passed, and felt a sharp unbearable pain; it turned out to be the bite of a white spider on the column. Wei Jun was shocked, and immediately flicked it away. It soon swelled up, and before several days had passed this affected his entire arm. Due to this he was carried to Jiangxia in a sedan chair. Physicians and medicines had no effect, and eventually his left arm was pouring blood; when his blood was exhausted he died. Before this Wei Jun’s lady mother was in Jiangxia, and dreamed that a white-robed person addressed her: “My two brothers, younger and elder, were killed by your son. I have reported to the heavenly emperor, and the emperor has avenged this injustice according to my request.” When they finished speaking, the lady awoke in shock. Marvelling greatly at it, she was too disturbed to speak. A little more than ten days later, when Wei Jun arrived and she heard the full story, she came to understand the dream, realising that the day of her vision was indeed that on which he had killed the spider in the hostel pavilion. The lady wept and said: “How can you live for long now?” Several days later Wei Jun died.

Zhang Du 張讀, Xuanshi Zhi 宣室志 (Stories from the Chamber of Dissemination),1.3 (Tale 4):

館亭蜘蛛

有御史韋君,嘗從事江夏,復以奉使至京,既還,道次商於館亭中。忽見亭柱有白蜘蛛曳而下,狀甚微。韋君曰:「是為人之患也。吾聞汝雖小,螫人,良藥無及。」因以指殺焉。俄又見一白者下,如前所殺之。且視其上,有綱為窟,韋乃命左右挈箒盡為盡掃去,且曰:「為人患者,吾已除矣。」明日欲去,因以手撫去柱,忽覺指痛不可忍,乃是有一白蜘蛛螫其上。韋君驚,即拂去。俄遂腫焉,不數日而盡一臂。由是肩輿舁至江夏。醫藥無及,竟以左臂潰為血,血盡而終。先是韋君先夫人在江夏,夢一白衣人謂曰:「我弟兄二人為汝子所殺。吾告上帝,帝用雪其寃,且遂吾請。」言畢,夫人驚寤。甚異之,惡不能言。後旬餘而韋君至,具得其狀,方悟所夢,覺為夢日,果其殺蜘蛛於館亭時也。夫人泣曰:「其能久乎!」數日而韋君終矣。

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:

Wei Jun 韋君

There was a Censor called Wei Jun who was once responsible for Jiangxia. Sent back to the capital with a message, on his return journey he stopped to transact business at a hostel pavilion. He suddenly noticed a white spider descending from one of the pavilion columns, its body extremely small. Wei Jun said: “This is a danger to people. I have heard that, though small, when it bites people even good medicine has no effect.” He therefore directed that it be killed. Presently he saw another white one descending, and had it killed like the last one. Looking up beyond it he saw that the web led to a lair, so he ordered his retinue to fetch a broom to remove it all, and said: “I have now eliminated the threat to life.” The following day, about to leave, he touched the column with his hand as he passed, and felt a sharp pain that he could not bear; it turned out to be the bite of a white spider on the column. Wei Jun was shocked, and immediately flicked it away. Soon the swelling grew, and before several days had passed this affected his entire arm. Due to this he was carried to Jiangxia in a sedan chair. Physicians and medicines had no effect, and eventually his left arm was pouring blood; when his blood was exhausted he died. Before this Wei Jun’s lady mother was in Jiangxia, and dreamed that a white-robed person addressed her: “I had three brothers, younger and elder, and two were killed by your son. I have reported to the heavenly emperor, and the emperor felt sympathy and agreed to my request.” When they finished speaking, the lady awoke in shock. Marvelling greatly at it, she was too disturbed to speak. A little more than ten days later, when Wei Jun arrived and she heard the full story, she came to understand the dream, realising that the day of her vision was indeed that on which he had been in the hostel pavilion. The lady wept and said: “How can you live for long now?” Several days later Wei Jun died.

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, 476.3920:

韋君

有御史韋君嘗從事江夏。後以奉使至京。既還。道次商於。館亭中。忽見亭柱有白蜘蛛曳而下。狀甚微。韋君曰。是人之患也。吾聞雖小。螫人。良藥無及。因以指殺焉。俄又見一白者下。如前所殺之。且觀其上。有綱為窟。韋乃命左右挈帚。盡為去。且曰。為人患者。吾已除矣。明日將去。因以手撫去柱。忽覺指痛。不可忍之。乃是有一白蜘蛛螫其上。韋君驚。即拂去。俄遂腫延。不數日而盡一臂。由是肩舁至江夏。醫藥無及。竟以左臂潰為血。血盡而終。先是韋君先夫人在江夏。夢一白衣人謂曰。我弟兄三人。其二人為汝子所殺。吾告上帝。帝用憫其寃。且遂吾請。言畢。夫人驚寤。甚異之。惡不能言。後旬餘而韋君至。具得其狀。方悟所夢。覺為夢日。果其館亭時也。夫人泣曰。其能久乎。數日而韋君終矣。出宣室志

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Giving Birth To A Dragon 產龍

In Weibo Village, Pingding, in the summer of the yisi year,[1] there was a woman named Ma who was a sorcerer, aged over fifty, and who was pregnant for more than six years, finally this year giving birth to a dragon. When the officials asked after the cause of this, the woman told them that, after remaining pregnant for three or four years without giving birth, her husband, Registrar Cao, feared that the baby had changed into a demon, so drove her away. When the birth approached, she saw people descend from a haze and array themselves before her, as if they were within a government office. One person spoke to her personally, saying, “What has been entrusted to you over several years will today depart; next year the mother will be happy indeed.” When he had finished speaking, a white-robed person took her by the arm and departed; on reaching the gate, she grew confused and lost consciousness, only reviving after a long time had passed. The people around her said that three thunderclaps had emerged from dark clouds, and a dragon had flown from the woman’s body, leaving its mother behind.

Yuan Haowen 元好問, Xu Yijian zhi 續夷堅志 (Continued Records of the Listener), 1.6

產龍

平定葦泊村,乙巳夏,一婦名馬師婆,年五十許,懷孕六年有餘,今年方產一龍。官司問所由,此婦說,懷孕至三四年不產,其夫曹主簿懼為變怪,即遣逐之。及臨產,怳忽中見人從羅列其前,如在官府中,一人前自陳云:「寄託數年,今當舍去,明年阿母快活矣。」言訖,一白衣人掖之而去,至門,昏不知人,久之乃甦。旁人為說晦冥中雷震者三,龍從婦身飛去,遂失身孕所在。

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] This would be the forty-second year of the 60-year cycle, so in this case perhaps either 1185 or 1245 CE.

Murong Chui 慕容垂

Tang Taizong (r. 626-49 CE) was campaigning in Liao and when he reached Dingzhou there was a spirit by the roadside, dressed in white robes and standing tall atop a tomb, its spirited demeanour especially distinctive. When Taizong sent people to question it, it replied: “Our long-ago defeated the lord’s long-ago; the lord’s present defeats our present. Glory and splendour differ in each age; what use is the bitterness of chasing and seeking them?” Its speech being complete, it vanished. On further questioning, the tomb turned out to be that of Murong Chui.[1]

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, 327.2601

慕容垂

唐太宗征遼,行至定州,路側有一鬼,衣黃衣,立高冢上,神彩特異。太宗遣使問之,答曰:「我昔勝君昔,君今勝我今。榮華各異代,何用苦追尋。」言訖不見,問之,乃慕容垂墓。(出《靈怪集》)

[1] Murong Chui 慕容垂 (326-96 CE), a controversial figure, famously both betrayed and betrayer in struggles for power. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murong_Chui.

Immortals Treat Sicknesses Of The Feet 仙醫足疾

The Imperial Student Xu Quan was from Wuzhou. One day, leaving his home village and hurrying by water towards Hangzhou, he rode a rice boat, seated each day atop the rice sacks with his feet folded beneath him, and nobody realized that an illness affected his feet. It happened that, one day, the boat leaked, so the boatman asked him to step onto the shore, in order to stop up the hole. When, the job being finished, he was invited back on board, the water had risen under heavy rain, and everyone bared their feet to step aboard. His fellow passengers noticed that his toes were all as short as a little toe, and asked him about it. He replied: “When I left my mother’s womb, my toes all pointed backwards. After two years had passed, it happened that a Daoist came along and insisted on looking at me, so the wet-nurse wrapped me up and took me out to show him. The Daoist ordered her to cook up a young lamb, and use the lambskin to wrap my feet overnight. The next day at dawn they were unwrapped, and it turned out that my toes all pointed forwards. On examination they were all this size and length.” He subsequently passed the imperial examinations.

[144] Duya Guiyuan was from Jinhua. At the beginning of the Song Shaoxi era (1190-94), he arrived at Longquan at Guacang, passing his days in singing praises, and, because he suffered from arthritis and both feet were stiff and spasming, he tottered along on wooden clogs, begging in the market. On the seventeenth night of the eighth month in the guichou year of the Chunyou era,[1] he was squatting by Magistrate Zhang’s back gate. It was already the third watch (11pm to 1am), and the moonlight was as bright as day. He saw a person, wearing a dark soft hat, black ribbon and white scholar’s robe, who descended from on high and, stepping forward slightly, addressed Yagui: “Why would you be here so deep in the night?” He said: “Due to illness and fatigue I cannot go anywhere.” The person selected various weeds from the roadside, rubbed them and broke them apart, then mixed them with ditchwater into a kind of pellet, which he gave to him, saying: “You should eat this.” Yagui realised that this was no ordinary person, and swallowed it without suspicion. The person then said: “Come back tomorrow night and meet me here.” They then departed. Yagui felt a stirring within his belly, becoming restless and unable to settle himself, dragging himself onto the Jichuan Bridge, leaning against the railing and dozing. After a long time he awoke and found he could stretch his feet a little, and trying to stand while holding the balustrade, his bones making chirping sounds like birdsong, he found himself able to walk. The next night he waited for the other person, but they didn’t come back. Yagui travelled around talking to people, but never found his whereabouts.

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後1.143-44 (Tale 252):

仙醫足疾

徐上舍洤,婺州人。一日,自鄉泛舟趨杭,乘米舟,每日坐於米袋之上,惟疊足坐,人亦不知其有疾也。忽一日,舟漏,梢子請上岸,將塞舟。事畢請入時,水潦稍漲,皆跣足而入,同舟人見其足大小指皆短,從容問之,彼曰:「自出母胎,一足指皆向後。越二年,忽有道人來,必欲見,乳母抱出示之。道人命烹一小羊,用羊皮裹其足,一宿,次早掀開,則其指皆向前,但視足指有大小長短耳。」後亦登第。

[144] 杜亞歸元,金華人。宋紹熙初,到括蒼龍泉歌唱度日,因病風,兩足拘攣,木屐曳行,丐於市。淳祐癸丑八月十七夜,蹲於張通判後門,已三鼓矣,月明如晝,見一人青巾皁絛白襴衫,自最高軒下,行至其前少許,謂亞歸曰:「夜深何故在此?」曰:「病倦,去不得也。」其人於路旁采雜草,挼碎,掬溝之污水若彈然,授之曰:「汝可食此。」亞歸亦意其不凡人也,餌之不疑。其人曰:「明夜再來會我于此。」遂去。亞歸覺腹中攪戚不能自安,曳行至濟川橋上,倚柱假寐。良久,方覺其一足略能伸,試扶欄起立,骨磔磔然有聲,自此能行。次夜候之,其人不復來矣。亞歸遍以語人,後不知所在。

[1] This is 11 September 1253, but the Chunyou era (1241-53) had already finished some months before, on 30 January 1253.

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 River God’s Retribution 江神報事

Yu Dujian, known as Shan, was from Xinshang. In the xinyou year of the Song Jingding era (1261), he was governor to Linjiang Commandery, and, due to a flood, people suffered from having to wade through the river. He received word that, at a crossing on the boundary with Jiangdong, a boat had foundered killing eighteen people, including the boatman. The governor was keen to uphold the law, so sent a soldier bearing Daoist paper figures and an official document to seek the river spirit for questioning. The soldier feared punishment, so made earnest entreaties [217] at the riverbank. An elderly white-robed person suddenly emerged, saying: “You go now; I’ll come to the offices tomorrow.” The soldier returned and made his report. When the day came, the governor sat in the hall and waited. It was already late when a wisp of cold wind was felt touching people, and he saw a person with bushy brows and white hair, dressed in white, who said: “The eighteen people who died had in a previous life formed a gang of powerful bandits who killed people, and were therefore taken together in death one day on the water.” The governor said: “The boatman among them; what then was his crime?” The elderly figure said: “That person was the bandit chief. The governor understands the affairs of human life in this world. He does not understand the affairs of the nether world’s authority, all of which are destined and certain, without slip or error.”

Anon., Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.216-17 (Tale 384):

江神報事

俞杜澗名掞,信上人。宋景定辛酉知臨江軍,因大水,人病涉。言江東界有一渡,水漲舟覆,溺死十八人,梢子亦沉死。知府善行法,差一卒持神符及官牒追江神來問。卒畏譴責,力懇 [217] 於水濱。忽一白衣老人出云:「你且去,我明日自到官。」卒歸報。至日,知府坐廳等候。近晚,但覺冷風一陣拂人,見一人龐眉皓首,身著白,云:「十八人死者,前世曾結黨為強盗殺人,以一日聚死於水。」知府曰:「梢子又何辜?」老人曰:「此人正是賊首也。知府但知陽間世事,不知陰府事皆注定,並無差錯。」

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 Fox Spirit Marries Off His Daughters 狐精嫁女

In Hengli Village, Pucheng County, a white-robed priest appeared and approached one of the households, stating that the pursuit of lawsuits had compounded his suffering, that he wished to take his family away from these troubles, and came specifically to sell them off to his host, asking also how many were in his family. The host said that he had a wife and three sons. When asked whether or not these were married, he said, “Not yet.” The priest stated that he had three daughters, and wished to wed them to his host’s sons, an offer his host gladly accepted. The priest immediately arrived together with his wife, three daughters and several attendants carrying wheat on shoulder poles. They then agreed that night would be a convenient time to divine the couples’ astrological suitability. The host said that they should set dates. After they had stayed for four nights, all the hens and fish had been cooked, and neighbouring households had given all their wine as offerings. One day the host invited a yin-yang master to select safe places to sleep; he wished to see the five (the brides’ family) together on their beds. That person came with a dog on a lead, and when he entered the host ordered that the priest be invited with his wife and three daughters to come and be seen together, but when their door was opened, however, there was nobody in the chamber, only five shoulder poles. When his wife reported this to her husband he would not believe her. On going to look in person, it was indeed as she had said. When the yin-yang master examined the shoulder poles, they were all just twisted strips of yellow bamboo tied around branches and foliage; the umbrellas too were just lotus leaves. They suddenly realized that foxes had been invited into the house. The neighbours gathered hounds to give chase, and saw an old fox deep in sleep; the dogs killed it. Before long the head of the household passed away, and the family’s fortunes went into decline.

Anon, Huhai xinwen yijian xuzhi, 後2.248 (Tale 448):

狐精嫁女

浦城縣橫歷村,忽有一白服道人到一人家,稱為官司追併所苦,欲挈家逃避,特來販投主人,且問有幾家眷。主人謂夫妻三子。〔問其〕(據明刻本補。)曾娶否,曰:「未娶。」道人謂有三女,願妻之令似,主喜而納之。須臾,道人偕妻與三女俱來,兼有從者數人麥擔,且約(「約」原作「納」,據明刻本改。)是夜便合婚。主謂必擇日。留四宵,雞魚烹盡,鄰人亦具酒禮。主人一日約陰陽師來擇選安牀,尚見五人共坐於牀。其人帶一犬來,方入門,主人令請道人夫妻並三女出來相見,方開門,寂無一人,惟有五擔。妻以告夫,夫不之信。夫往觀之,果如所言。陰陽師看其擔皆是抝黃竹篾縛槎葉,雨傘則是荷葉,方知為狐入屋。鄰人聚犬逐之,見一老狐正睡,為犬所斃。未幾家長卒,家道替矣。

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).