Zhong Yao 鍾繇

Zhong Yao (151-230 CE) suddenly stopped attending the morning court, and his mood and character were quite different to what people had become used to. When a fellow official asked him why this was, he responded: “A woman often comes to me; she has a beauty that is not of the mortal world.” His colleague replied: “This must be a ghost. You should kill it; afterwards it will stay away from your home.” He asked: “How could I intend to slaughter something possessing such a form?” Yuanchang replied: “There is no such problem.” In the end he eagerly called her to him, but could not bear to carry out the plan, so only lightly wounded her. She left immediately, staunching the blood with fresh silk floss, which was scattered along her route. The following day, he sent people to follow these traces. They came to a great tomb. In a coffin lay a woman, her body appearing still to be alive. Wearing a white silk gown and a cinnabar-embroidered waistcoat, there was a wound on one of her thighs, and the waistcoat showed signs of her having wiped away blood. From then the visits ceased.

From Youminglu.

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, 317.2509:

鍾繇

鍾繇忽不復朝會。意性有異於常。寮友問其故。云。常有婦人來。美麗非凡間者。曰。必是鬼物。可殺之。後來止戶外。曰。何以有相殺意。元常曰。無此。慇懃呼入。意亦有不忍。乃微傷之。便出去。以新綿拭血。竟路。明日。使人尋跡。至一大冢。棺中一婦人。形體如生。白練衫。丹繡裲襠。傷一髀。以裲襠中綿拭血。自此便絕。出幽明錄

Wu Xiang 吳祥

The Han-era clerk of Zhuji County, Wu Xiang, feared exhaustion in official service. He thus fled to hide in a remote mountain area. On his journey he came across a stream. It was getting close to dusk, but he saw a young girl, extremely beautiful and wearing multi-coloured garments. She said: “I live alone, without village or district, with only an old woman, only a dozen or so steps from here.” When Xiang heard this he was very pleased, so set off following her. They had travelled a li or more when they reached her home. Her family were extremely poor, but prepared food for Xiang. He finished by the first watch (7-9pm), at which he heard an old woman call out: “Sister Zhang?” The girl answered: “Yes?” Xiang asked who it had been, and she replied: “A lonely old woman back along the road.” The two slept together until dawn, and Xiang set off at the cock’s crow. The two had fallen in love, and the young woman gave him a purple scarf. Xiang bound it as a kerchief and set off back to the place of their meeting the previous day. When he came to cross the stream, however, the water was rushing violently, and too deep to wade. He thus returned to the girl’s home, but found nothing as it had been the previous night, with only a tomb remaining.

From Fayuanzhulin.

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, 317.2505:

吳祥

漢諸暨縣吏吳祥者。憚役委頓。將投竄深山。行至一溪。日欲暮。見年少女子。彩衣甚美。云。我一身獨居。又無鄉里。唯有一孤嫗。相去十餘步耳。祥聞甚悅。便即隨去。行一里餘。即至女家。家甚貧陋。為祥設食。至一更竟。聞一嫗喚云。張姑子。女應曰。諾。祥問是誰。答云。向所道孤嫗也。二人共寢至曉。雞鳴祥去。二情相戀。女以紫巾贈祥。祥以布手巾報。行至昨夜所遇處。過溪。其夜水暴溢。深不可涉。乃回向女家。都不見昨處。但有一冢耳。出法苑珠林

Chen Adeng 陳阿登

During the Han era, one Gou Zhangren, from Guiji, was returning from Dongye, but night fell before he reached his gate. He saw the light of a fire by a small cottage at the roadside, so went to seek lodging. When he arrived, he found a young girl, who was not willing to stay the night alone with a man, so called to a girl from a neighbouring family to keep her company. That night they plucked the konghou harp together, and sang:

Kudzu grows on along the vine,

Slow along and slow back down the cord.

If you wish to learn my name,

Surname Chen, first name Adeng.

The next day he arrived outside the east wall, where a woman was selling food at a stall. He sat on the customer stool and told her what he had seen the previous night. The woman was shocked, and told him: “That was my daughter. She only died recently, and was buried outside the walls.”

From Lingguaiji.

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, 316.2504:

陳阿登

漢會稽句章人。至東野還。暮不及門。見路傍小屋然火。因投宿。至。有一少女。不欲與丈夫共宿。呼鄰家女自伴。夜共彈箜篌。歌曰。連綿葛上藤。一緩復一絙。汝欲知我姓。姓陳名阿登。明至東郭外。有賣食母在肆中。此人寄坐。因說昨所見。母驚曰。此是我女。近亡。葬於郭外爾。出靈怪集

Master Ren Of Wu 吳任生

Master Ren, from Wu Prefecture, was skilled at spotting spirits, and his cottage was on Dongtingshan. He often looked like a young boy, and, according to the custom of Wu and Chu, none knew his birthdate. During the Baoli era (825-26 CE), there was a youth, surnamed Yang, the son of a Qiankunshan military officer, who was living apart in Wu Prefecture. He would often, of a daytime, meet a few people of a similar age and go boating together.

When they went to the Huqiu Temple, Master Ren was in the boat with them. Their talk touched on spirits and deities, and Master Yang said: “People and spirits leave different traces. Because spirits have died they cannot be seen.” Master Ren laughed: “Spirits are extremely numerous. People are just unable to recognise them. Only I can pick them out.” They turned to look at a woman, dressed in dark robes, holding a small boy and walking along the bank. The Master pointed and said: “This is a spirit. The thing she is embracing is nothing more than the ethereal soul of an infant.” Yang said: “But then how can you tell that she is a spirit?” The Master replied: “So the gentleman thinks I’m all talk?” He then called out in a stern voice: “You are a spirit. Have you stolen the child of a living person?” When the woman heard this she was terrified, and started to hurry back the way she had come. Before she had taken more than a few dozen steps, she vanished. Master Yang was both impressed and astonished.

When evening came, they returned. Several dozen li from the city walls there was a house on the riverbank, with mats laid out for a feast. There was a sorceress, who encouraged them to take seats at her left, and libations were made to the deities. Master Yang and Master Ren both asked her about this, and the sorceress told them: “Today a villager’s baby died of a sudden illness, but now it has revived so we are holding a banquet in gratitude.” They then ordered that the child be brought out for them to see, and it was indeed the infant that the woman had been carrying. The guests were all amazed and alarmed at this, and thanked Master Ren, saying: “The gentleman is truly an adept of the Way; we had no idea!”

From Xuanshizhi.

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, 347.2746:

吳任生

吳郡任生者。善視鬼。廬於洞庭山。貌常若童兒。吳楚之俗。莫能究其甲子。寶曆中。有前崑山尉楊氏子。僑居吳郡。常一日。里中三數輩。相與泛舟。俱遊虎丘寺。時任生在舟中。且語及鬼神事。楊生曰。人鬼殊迹。故鬼卒不可見矣。任生笑曰。鬼甚多。人不能識耳。我獨識之。然顧一婦人。衣青衣。擁豎兒。步於岸。生指語曰。此鬼也。其擁者乃嬰兒之〈之原作也。據明鈔本改。〉生魂耳。楊曰。然則何以辨其鬼耶。生曰。君第觀我與語。即厲聲呼曰。爾鬼也。竊生人之子乎。其婦人聞而驚懾。遂疾廻去。步未十數。遽亡見矣。楊生且歎且異。及晚還。去郭數里。岸傍一家。陳筵席。有女巫。鼓舞於其左。乃醮神也。楊生與任生俱問之。巫曰。今日里中人有嬰兒暴卒。今則寤矣。故設筵以謝。遂命出嬰兒以視。則真婦人所擁者。諸客驚歎之。謝任生曰。先生真道術者。吾不得而知也。出宣室志

Tan Sheng 談生

At the age of forty Tan Sheng was without a wife. He often became aroused through study and reading. Suddenly one midnight a young woman appeared to him, aged fifteen or sixteen and peerless under heaven in her appearance, dress and posture. She came to Sheng so they could be husband and wife, but told him: “I am not like other people. Never let firelight shine upon me. Only after three years have passed may I be illuminated.” They then lived as man and wife. She’d bore a son, who was already two years old, when, unable to bear it any longer, Sheng waited until she was asleep then stealthily illuminated and examined her. Above her waist was living flesh, just like any human being, but below her waist were just dry bones. His wife awoke, and told him: “The gentleman has betrayed me. I had almost returned to life – why could you not bear to wait just one more year before examining me?” Sheng parted from her with thanks, weeping, as they could no longer be together.

She said: “Although my parting from the gentleman is entirely correct, I am still concerned for our child. You are poor and unable to support yourselves, so follow me a moment and I will leave you something of value. Sheng followed her as she entered a splendid hall, its rooms and furnishings all quite extraordinary. Indicating a pearl-stitched gown, she handed it to him and said: “You can support yourself with this.” She then tore away the front of the gown, left it with him and departed. Sheng subsequently took the robe to the market, where it was purchased by the household of the Suiyang Prince, earning him a thousand ten-thousand strings of cash.

The prince recognised the robe, however, and said: “This is my daughter’s gown. It must have been taken from her tomb.” He thus seized and beat Sheng, who told him the full truth, but the prince still did not believe him. They therefore went to view the tomb, and found the grave undisturbed, just like [2502] before. When they opened it, beneath the coffin lid they found the same gown. They called his child, and indeed he resembled the princess. The prince then believed the story, and summoned Tan Sheng, granting him the gown and installing him as princely consort. Their son was appointed Chancellor.[1]

From Lieyizhuan

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, 316.2501-2:

談生

談生者。年四十。無婦。常感激讀書。忽〈書忽原作詩經。據明鈔本改。〉夜半有女子。可年十五六。姿顏服飾。天下無雙。來就生為夫婦。乃〈乃原作之。據明鈔本改。〉言。我與人不同。勿以火照我也。三年之後。方可照。為夫妻。生一兒。已二歲。不能忍。夜伺其寢後。盜照視之。其腰上已生肉如人。腰下但有枯骨。婦覺。遂言曰。君負我。我垂生矣。何不能忍一歲而竟相照也。生辭謝。涕泣不可復止。云。與君雖大義永離。然顧念我兒。若貧不能自偕活者。暫隨我去。方遺君物。生隨之去。入華堂。室宇器物不凡。以一珠袍與之曰。可以自給。裂取生衣裾。留之而去。後生持袍詣市。睢陽王家買之。得錢千萬。王識之曰。是我女袍。此必發墓。乃取拷之。生具以實對。王猶不信。乃視女冢。冢完如 [2502] 故。發視之。果棺蓋下得衣裾。呼其兒。正類王女。王乃信之。即召談生。復賜遺衣。以為主壻。表其兒以為侍中。出列異傳

[1] With thanks to Ofer Waldman for greatly improving this translation!

Chen Deyu 陳德遇

In a xinhai year, the collaborator official to the Jiangnan Treasury Chen Jurang, courtesy name Deyu, spent nights in the treasury. His wife remained at home. At the beginning of the fifth watch (around 3am), she suddenly dreamed that two clerks, carrying documents in their hands, emerged from their gate and entered, asking whether that was the household of Chen Deyu. She said: “Indeed.” “Where is Deyu?” “At the treasury.” The clerks were about to depart, but his wife followed and called to them: “My husband’s courtesy name is Deyu, that’s all. There is an official of the Treasury of Court Vestments named Chen Deyu, and his house is nearby at Dongqu.” The two clerks looked at one another and exclaimed: “There have been some errors!” They then left. Soon after, Deyu arose one morning and went to the toilet. He remarked to himself that he had become ill, and went back to bed. Some time after that he died. The two men both lived to the west of the administrative centre.

From Jishenlu.

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, 353.2800:

陳德遇

辛亥歲。江南偽右藏庫官陳居讓字德遇。直宿庫中。其妻在家。五更初。忽夢二吏。手把文書。自門而入。問此陳德遇家耶。曰。然。德遇何在。曰。在庫中。吏將去。妻追呼之曰。家夫〈夫原作父。據明鈔本、許本改。〉字德遇耳。有主衣庫官陳德遇者。家近在東曲。二吏相視而嘻曰。幾誤矣。遂去。邇日。德遇晨起如廁。自云有疾。還臥。良久遂卒。二人並居治城之西。出稽神錄

A Wuyuan Soldier’s Wife 婺源軍人妻

In a dingyou year, the wife of a soldier from Jianwei in Wuyuan died, so he remarried. His second wife terribly mistreated his children by the first wife, and the husband was quite unable to stop this. One day, he suddenly saw his dead wife pass through the gate and enter. Furious at the second wife, she said: “Who among the people will not die? How could anyone lack all motherly feelings? Yet you abuse our children like this? I have recently made a complaint to the authorities of the nether world, and they granted me a break of ten days in which I am to teach you. If you then fail to change, I would surely be able to kill the gentleman.” Husband and wife were both terrified and bowed over and over, then provided her with food and drink. They once invited trusted friends from among their neighbours, greeting them and chatting as normal, but these other people could hear her voice, despite only the husband being able to see her. When night fell, she set up a bed in another room. The husband wished to spend the night with her, but was not allowed. When the ten days were up, she was about to depart, but again reprimanded the second wife and urged her to improve. Her words were very [2800] earnest and thoughtful. She escorted the family members together to her tomb, and when they were a little over a hundred paces from the grave, said: “You should all stop here.” She then said her goodbyes in a polite and courteous manner, then departed. Just as she reached a cypress grove all of the family could see her, in clothes and appearance seeming just they had in life. When she reached the tomb, she disappeared.

The officer of the Jianwei Army Wang Yanchang reported that it occurred like this.

From Jishenlu.

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, 353.2799-800:

婺源軍人妻

丁酉歲。婺源建威軍人妻死更娶。其後妻虐遇前妻之子過甚。夫不能制。一日。忽見亡妻自門而入。大怒後妻曰。人誰無死。孰無母子之情。乃虐我兒女如是耶。吾比訴與地下所司。今與我假十日。使我誨汝。汝遂不改。必能殺君。夫妻皆恐懼再拜。即為具酒食。徧召親黨鄰里。問訊敘話如常。他人但聞其聲。唯夫見之。及夜。為設榻別室。夫欲從之宿。不可。滿十日。將去。復責勵其後妻。言甚 [2800] 切至。舉家親族共送至墓。去墓百餘步。曰。諸人可止矣。復殷勤辭訣而去。將及柏林中。諸人皆見之。衣服容色如平生。及墓乃沒。建威軍使汪延昌言如是。出稽神錄

Zhang Yuan 張瑗

The Jiangnan eunuch Zhang Yuan was crossing the New Bridge at Jiankang when he suddenly saw a beautiful woman hurrying along with her robe gaping open. Tuan was extremely surprised and regarded her closely, but the woman then turned her head, transformed into a whirlwind and attacked Yuan. Yuan’s horse was knocked over, injuring his face. He returned a little over a month later. At first his horse reared, and then it lifted a hoof and had to return lame. From then on whenever he crossed that bridge his horse would always limp and lift a hoof. In the end there were no other strange events.

From Jishenlu.

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, 353.2799:

張瑗

江南內臣張瑗日暮過建康新橋。忽見一美人。袒衣猖獗而走。瑗甚訝。諦視之。婦人忽爾廻頭。化為旋風撲瑗。瑗馬倒傷面。月餘乃復。初馬既起。乃提一足。跛行而歸。自是每過此橋。馬輒提一足而行。竟無他怪。出稽神錄

Shao Yuanxiu 邵元休

During the Tianfu era (901-4), the Han Councillor to the Bureau of the Left Shao Yuanxiu, who was not yet twenty years old, lived in a government residence in Yanzhou. In the house there was only a midwife and a maidservant. At the southernmost end of the wing running west from the hall was a study. When night fell the whole household extinguished the lamps and slept soundly. The lamp in the study was also extinguished, and Shao rested his head on a volume and dozed, but heard, coming from the west of the hall, soft light sounds, like a woman’s footsteps. They ascended the hall stairs, and arrived first at the eastern wing, where the rooms of the female servants lay. Pausing whenever they passed a door, he then heard them continue and reach the south wing. There stood an unbolted door to the chamber, and it pulled open the door and entered. Next he heard a great crash, as if of porcelain thrown to shatter on the floor. Xi then entered the study. Outside the window the moon showed new and thin. He saw something. It seemed extremely large, he could not discern its face, but it was six or seven chi in height (i.e., two metres or more), seeming to have its head swathed in deep black silk, and it stood below the door. Shao, unafraid, rebuked it in a stern voice, and shouted at it several times. It did not make the slightest attempt to respond, but departed, moving like the wind. Shao wanted to pick up his pillow and strike it, but it was already gone. He heard it again, moving to the west of the hall, but the sounds then ceased. When dawn broke, he made a careful examination of the objects inside the southern room, finding, laid on the tea couch, white porcelain that had been smashed against the ground. When he subsequently questioned people about the matter he was told: “A military commissioner frequently stays at this residence. When his daughter died, he used the western hall as a chapel of rest for a time, and she still visits her servants.” There was a near neighbour who had known the girl, and said: “She was very tall in stature; that must have been her mortal soul.”

From Yutang xianhua.

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, 353.2794:

邵元休

漢左司員外郎邵元休。當天復年中。尚未冠。居兗州廨宅。宅內惟乳母婢僕。堂之西序。最南是書齋。時夜向分。舉家滅燭熟寐。書齋內燈亦滅。邵枕書假寐。聞堂之西。窸窣若婦人履聲。經于堂階。先至東序。皆女僕之寢室也。每至一房門。即住少時。遂聞至南廊。有閣子門。不扃鍵。乃推門而入。即聞轟然。若撲破磁器聲。遂西入書齋。窓外微月。見一物。形狀極偉。不辨其面目。長六七尺。如以青黑帛懞首而入。立于門扉之下。邵不懼。厲聲叱之。仍間數聲。都不酬答。遂却出。其勢如風。邵欲捫枕擊之。則已去矣。又聞行往堂西。其聲遂絕。遲明。驗其南房內。則茶牀之上。一白磁器。已墜地破矣。後問人云。常有兵馬留後居是宅。女卒。權於堂西作殯宮。仍訪左右。有近鄰識其女者。云。體貌頗長。蓋其魄也。出玉堂閒話

Huangfu Mei 皇甫枚

During the Guangqi era (885-87 CE), when Xizong (r. 872-88 CE) was in Liangzhou, in autumn, the ninth month, Huangfu Mei was in temporary accommodation awaiting transfer. In the tenth month, he arrived to the west of Gaoping County from Xiangzhou. 40 li southwest of the county. He was climbing a hill and passing a small brook when the sunlight seemed to become watery, mist and cloud dimming the light, the sun beginning to set and the wind rising. Muddled by numerous forks and turns, he found himself on a long ridge. Below him he caught sight of a thatched cottage, hedges of hibiscus scattered around it, and noisy voices from within. He craned his neck to look, and after a little a village woman emerged to the north of the west wing, wearing yellow robes of antique design, with unkempt hair and battered sandals. He called out to her repeatedly, but she did not turn towards him, instead bowing her head and returning inside. He then followed the slope down to the southeast, but when he reached the residence the gate was entirely crossed and wound about with kudzu vines. Thorns and brambles stretched across the courtyard, showing not the slightest sign of human passage, as if it had lain for a year or two. Mei hesitated, and stood, astonished, for a long time. He climbed the slope once more and looked out. From there he could see the government road, with people passing along it. He thus whipped his donkey towards it, and met a courier clerk of the county surnamed Duan. He told Duan all about it and lodged with Duan that night.

From Sanshuixiaodu.

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, 353.2792:

皇甫枚

光啟中。僖宗在梁州。秋九月。皇甫枚將赴調行在。與所親裴宜城者偕行。十月。自相州西抵高平縣。縣西南四十里。登山越玉溪。其日行旅稍稀。煙雲晝晦。日昃風勁。惑於多歧。上一長坂。下視有茅屋數間。槿籬疏散。其中有喧語聲。乃延望之。少頃。有村婦出自西廂之北。著黃故衣。蓬頭敗屨。連呼之不顧。但俛首而復入。乃循坂東南下。得及其居。至則荊扉橫葛。縈帶其上。茨棘羅生於其庭。略無人蹤。如涉一二年者矣。枚與裴生。愕立久之。復登坂長望。見官道有人行。乃策蹇驢赴之。至則郵吏將往端氏縣者也。乃與俱焉。是夜宿端氏。出三水小牘