At the time this was happening the assassin Su Ta entered the priest's room, and struck him with his sword. Instantly the assassin, without knowing how, found himself enwrapped in the priest's robe and thrown to the ground. He struggled and tried to free himself, but found that his hands had been rendered useless by some mysterious power, and that flight was impossible. The spirit Yu I, having fulfilled the mission entrusted to him, now returned to Hsiang Shan and reported to Miao Shan.
A Confession and its Results
Next morning, the two sons-in-law of the King heard of the turn things had taken during the night. The whole palace was in a state of the greatest confusion.
When he was informed that the priest had been killed, the King called Ch'u Ting-lieh and ordered him to have the murderer arrested. Su Ta was put to the torture and confessed all that he knew. Together with Ho Li he was condemned to be cut into a thousand pieces.
The two sons-in-law were seized and ordered to instant execution, and it was only on the Queen's intercession that their wives were spared. The infuriated King, however, ordered that his two daughters should be imprisoned in the palace.
The Gruesome Remedy
Meantime Chao Chen and Liu Ch'in had reached Hsiang Shan. When they were brought to Miao Shan the ministers took out the King's letter and read it to her. "I, Miao Chuang, King of Hsing Lin, have learned that there dwells at Hsiang Shan an Immortal whose power and compassion have no equal in the whole world. I have passed my fiftieth year, and am afflicted with ulcers that all remedies have failed to cure. To-day a priest has assured me that at Hsiang Shan I can obtain the hand and eye of a living person, with which he will prepare an ointment able to restore me to my usual state of health. Relying upon his word and upon the goodness of the Immortal to whom he has directed me, I venture to beg that those two parts of a living body necessary to heal my ulcers be sent to me. I assure you of my everlasting gratitude, fully confident that my request will not be refused."
The next morning Miao Shan bade the ministers take a knife and cut off her left hand and gouge out her left eye. Liu Ch'in took the knife offered him, but did not dare to obey the order. "Be quick," urged the Immortal; "you have been commanded to return as soon as possible; why do you hesitate as if you were a young girl?" Liu Ch'in was forced to proceed. He plunged in the knife, and the red blood flooded the ground, spreading an odour like sweet incense. The hand and eye were placed on a golden plate, and, having paid their grateful respects to the Immortal, the envoys hastened to return.
When they had left, Miao Shan, who had transformed herself in order to allow the envoys to remove her hand and eye, told Shan Ts'ai that she was now going to prepare the ointment necessary for the cure of the King. "Should the Queen," she added, "send for another eye and hand, I will transform myself again, and you can give them to her." No sooner had she finished speaking than she mounted a cloud and disappeared in space. The two ministers reached the palace and presented to the Queen the gruesome remedy which they had brought from the temple. She, overcome with gratitude and emotion, wept copiously. "What Immortal," she asked, "can have been so charitable as to sacrifice a hand and eye for the King's benefit?" Then suddenly her tears gushed forth with redoubled vigour, and she uttered a great cry, for she recognized the hand of her daughter by a black scar which was on it.
"Who else, in fact, but his child," she continued amid her sobs, "could have had the courage to give her hand to save her father's life?" "What are you saying?" said the King. "In the world there are many hands like this." While they thus reasoned, the priest entered the King's apartment. "This great Immortal has long devoted herself to the attainment of perfection," he said. "Those she has healed are innumerable. Give me the hand and eye." He took them and shortly produced an ointment which, he told the King, was to be applied to his left side. No sooner had it touched his skin than the pain on his left side disappeared as if by magic; no sign of ulcers was to be seen on that side, but his right side remained swollen and painful as before.
"Why is it," asked the King, "that this remedy, which is so efficacious for the left side, should not be applied to the right?" "Because," replied the priest, "the left hand and eye of the saint cures only the left side. If you wish to be completely cured, you must send your officers to obtain the right eye and right hand also." The King accordingly dispatched his envoys anew with a letter of thanks, and begging as a further favour that the cure should be completed by the healing also of his right side.
The King Cured
On the arrival of the envoys Shan Ts'ai met them in the mutilated form of Miao Shan, and he bade them cut off his right hand, pluck out his right eye, and put them on a plate. At the sight of the four bleeding wounds Liu Ch'in could not refrain from calling out indignantly: "This priest is a wicked man, thus to make a martyr of a woman in order to obtain the succession!"
Having thus spoken, he left with his companion for the kingdom of Hsing Lin. On their return the King was overwhelmed with joy. The priest quickly prepared the ointment, and the King, without delay, applied it to his right side. At once the ulcers disappeared like the darkness of night before the rising sun. The whole Court congratulated the King and eulogized the priest. The King conferred upon the latter the title Priest of the Brilliant Eye. He fell on his face to return thanks, and added: "I, a poor priest, have left the world, and have only one wish, namely, that your Majesty should govern your subjects with justice and sympathy and that all the officials of the realm should prove themselves men of integrity. As for me, I am used to roaming about. I have no desire for any royal estate. My happiness exceeds all earthly joys."
Having thus spoken, the priest waved the sleeve of his cloak, a cloud descended from Heaven, and seating himself upon it he disappeared in the sky. From the cloud a note containing the following words was seen to fall: "I am one of the Teachers of the West. I came to cure the King's illness, and so to glorify the True Doctrine."
The King's Daughter
All who witnessed this miracle exclaimed with one voice: "This priest is the Living Buddha, who is going back to Heaven!" The note was taken to King Miao Chuang, who exclaimed: "Who am I that I should deserve that one of the rulers of Heaven should deign to descend and cure me by the sacrifice of hands and eyes?"
"What was the face of the saintly person like who gave you the remedy?" he then asked Chao Chen.
"It was like unto that of your deceased daughter, Miao Shan," he replied.
"When you removed her hands and eyes did she seem to suffer?"
"I saw a great flow of blood, and my heart failed, but the face of the victim seemed radiant with happiness."
"This certainly must be my daughter Miao Shan, who has attained to perfection," said the King. "Who but she would have given hands and eyes? Purify yourselves and observe the rules of abstinence, and go quickly to Hsiang Shan to return thanks to the saint for this inestimable favour. I myself will ere long make a pilgrimage thither to return thanks in person."
The King and Queen taken Prisoners
Three years later the King and Queen, with the grandees of their Court, set out to visit Hsiang Shan, but on the way the monarchs were captured by the Green Lion, or God of Fire, and the White Elephant, or Spirit of the Water, the two guardians of the Temple of Buddha, who transported them to a dark cavern in the mountains. A terrific battle then took place between the evil spirits on the one side and some hosts of heavenly genii, who had been summoned to the rescue, on the other. While its issue was still uncertain, reinforcements under the Red Child Devil, who could resist fire, and the Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea, who could subdue water, finally routed the enemy, and the prisoners were released.
The King's Repentance
The King and Queen now resumed their pilgrimage, and Miao Shan instructed Shan Ts'ai to receive the monarchs when they arrived to offer incense. She herself took up her place on the altar, her eyes torn out, her hands cut off, and her wrists all dripping with blood. The King recognized his daughter, and bitterly reproached himself; the Queen fell swooning at her feet. Miao Shan then spoke and tried to comfort them. She told them of all that she had experienced since the day when she had been executed, and how she had attained to immortal perfection. She then went on: "In order to punish you for having caused the deaths of all those who perished in the wars preceding your accession to the throne, and also to avenge the burning of the Nunnery of the White Bird, Yue Huang afflicted you with those grievous ulcers. It was then that I changed myself into a priest in order to heal you, and gave my eyes and hands, with which I prepared the ointment that cured you. It was I, moreover, who procured your liberty from Buddha when you were imprisoned in the cave by the Green Lion and the White Elephant."
Sackcloth and Ashes
At these words the King threw himself with his face on the ground, offered incense, worshipped Heaven, earth, the sun, and the moon, saying with a voice broken by sobs: "I committed a great crime in killing my daughter, who has sacrificed her eyes and hands in order to cure my sickness."
No sooner were these words uttered than Miao Shan reassumed her normal form, and, descending from the altar, approached her parents and sisters. Her body had again its original completeness; and in the presence of its perfect beauty, and at finding themselves reunited as one family, all wept for joy.
"Well," said Miao Shan to her father, "will you now force me to marry and prevent my devoting myself to the attainment of perfection?"
"Speak no more of that," replied the King. "I was in the wrong. If you had not reached perfection, I should not now be alive. I have made up my mind to exchange my sceptre for the pursuit of the perfect life, which I wish to lead henceforth together with you."
The King renounces the Throne
Then, in the presence of all, he addressed his Grand Minister Chao Chen, saying: "Your devotion to the service of the State has rendered you worthy to wear the crown: I surrender it to you." The Court proclaimed Chao Chen King of Hsing Lin, bade farewell to Miao Chuang, and set out for their kingdom accompanied by their new sovereign.
Pardon of the Green Lion and the White Elephant
Buddha had summoned the White Elephant and the Green Lion, and was on the point of sentencing them to eternal damnation when the compassionate Miao Shan interceded for them. "Certainly you deserve no forgiveness," he said, "but I cannot refuse a request made by Miao Shan, whose clemency is without limit. I give you over to her, to serve and obey her in everything. Follow her."
Miao Shan becomes a Buddha
The guardian spirit on duty that day then announced the arrival of a messenger from Yue Huang. It was T'ai-po Chin-hsing, who was the bearer of a divine decree, which he handed to Miao Shan. It read as follows: "I, the august Emperor, make known to you this decree: Miao Chuang, King of Hsing Lin, forgetful alike of Heaven and Hell, the six virtues, and metempsychosis, has led a blameworthy life; but your nine years of penitence, the filial piety which caused you to sacrifice your own body to effect his cure, in short, all your virtues, have redeemed his faults. Your eyes can see and your ears can hear all the good and bad deeds and words of men. You are the object of my especial regard. Therefore I make proclamation of this decree of canonization.
"Miao Shan will have the title of Very Merciful and Very Compassionate P'u-sa, Saviour of the Afflicted, Miraculous and Always Helpful Protectress of Mortals. On your lofty precious lotus-flower throne, you will be the Sovereign of the Southern Seas and of P'u T'o Isle.
"Your two sisters, hitherto tainted with earthly pleasures, will gradually progress till they reach true perfection.
"Miao Ch'ing will have the title of Very Virtuous P'u-sa, the Completely Beautiful, Rider of the Green Lion.
"Miao Yin will be honoured with the title of Very Virtuous and Completely Resplendent P'u-sa, Rider of the White Elephant.
"King Miao Chuang is raised to the dignity of Virtuous Conquering P'u-sa, Surveyor of Mortals.
"Queen Po Ya receives the title of P'u-sa of Ten Thousand Virtues, Surveyor of Famous Women.
"Shan Ts'ai has bestowed upon him the title of Golden Youth.
"Lung Nue has the title of Jade Maiden.
"During all time incense is to be burned before all the members of this canonized group."
The Eight Immortals
Either singly or in groups the Eight Immortals, Pa Hsien, of the Taoist religion are one of the most popular subjects of representation in China; their portraits are to be seen everywhere—on porcelain vases, teapots, teacups, fans, scrolls, embroidery, etc. Images of them are made in porcelain, earthenware, roots, wood, metals. The term 'Eight Immortals' is figuratively used for happiness. The number eight has become lucky in association with this tradition, and persons or things eight in number are graced accordingly. Thus we read of reverence shown to the 'Eight Genii Table' (Pa Hsien Cho), the 'Eight Genii Bridge' (Pa Hsien Ch'iao), 'Eight Genii Vermicelli' (Pa Hsien Mien), the 'Eight Genii of the Wine-cup' (Tin Chung Pa Hsien)—wine-bibbers of the T'ang dynasty celebrated by Tu Fu, the poet. They are favourite subjects of romance, and special objects of adoration. In them we see "the embodiment of the ideas of perfect but imaginary happiness which possess the minds of the Chinese people." Three of them (Chung-li Ch'uean, Chang Kuo, and Lue Yen) were historical personages; the others are mentioned only in fables or romances. They represent all kinds of people—old, young, male, female, civil, military, rich, poor, afflicted, cultured, noble. They are also representative of early, middle, and later historical periods.
The legend of the Eight Immortals is certainly not older than the time of the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960-1280), and is probably to be assigned to that of the Yuean dynasty (1280-1368). But some, if not all, of the group seem to have been previously celebrated as Immortals in the Taoist legends. Their biographies are usually arranged in the order of their official eminence or seniority in age. Here I follow that adopted in Hsiu hsiang Pa Hsien tung yu chi  in which they are described in the order in which they became Immortals.
Li T'ieh-kuai, depicted always with his crutch and gourd full of magic medicines, was of the family name of Li, his own name being Li Yuean (Hs'uean, now read Yuean). He is also known as K'ung-mu. Hsi Wang Mu cured him of an ulcer on the leg and taught him the art of becoming immortal. He was canonized as Rector of the East. He is said to have been of commanding stature and dignified mien, devoting himself solely to the study of Taoist lore. Hsi Wang Mu made him a present of an iron crutch, and sent him to the capital to teach the doctrine of immortality to Han Chung-li.
He is also identified with Li Ning-yang, to whom Lao Tzu descended from Heaven in order to instruct him in the wisdom of the gods. Soon after he had completed his course of instruction his soul left his body to go on a visit to Hua Shan. Some say he was summoned by Lao Tzu, others that Lao Tzu engaged him as escort to the countries of Hsi Yue. He left his disciple Lang Ling in charge of his body, saying that if he did not return within seven days he was to have the body cremated. Unfortunately, when only six days had elapsed the disciple was called away to the death-bed of his mother. In order to be able to leave at once he cremated the body forthwith, and when the soul returned it found only a heap of ashes. Some say the body was not cremated, but only became devitalized through neglect or through being uninhabited for so long a time. The object of the setting of the watch was not only to prevent injury to or theft of the body, but also to prevent any other soul from taking up its abode in it.
In a forest near by a beggar had just died of hunger. Finding this corpse untenanted, the wandering spirit entered it through the temples, and made off. When he found that his head was long and pointed, his face black, his beard and hair woolly and dishevelled, his eyes of gigantic size, and one of his legs lame, he wished to get out of this vile body; but Lao Tzu advised him not to make the attempt and gave him a gold band to keep his hair in order, and an iron crutch to help his lame leg. On lifting his hand to his eyes, he found they were as large as buckles. That is why he was called Li K'ung-mu, 'Li Hollow Eyes.' Popularly he is known as Li T'ieh-kuai, 'Li with the Iron Crutch.' No precise period seems to be assigned to his career on earth, though one tradition places him in the Yuean dynasty. Another account says that he was changed into a dragon, and in that form ascended to Heaven.
Elsewhere it is related that T'ieh-kuai, after entering the body of the lame beggar, benevolently proceeded to revive the mother of Yang, his negligent disciple. Leaning on his iron staff and carrying a gourd of medicines on his back he went to Yang's house, where preparations were being made for the funeral. The contents of the gourd, poured into the mouth, revived the dead woman. He then made himself known, and, giving Yang another pill, vanished in a gust of wind. Two hundred years later he effected the immortalization of his disciple.
During his peregrinations on earth he would hang a bottle on the wall at night and jump into it, emerging on the following morning. He frequently returned to earth, and at times tried to bring about the transmigration of others.
An example is the case of Ch'ao Tu, the watchman. T'ieh-kuai walked into a fiery furnace and bade Ch'ao follow. The latter, being afraid of imitating an act evidently associated with the supernatural world of evil spirits, refused to do so. T'ieh-kuai then told Ch'ao to step on to a leaf floating on the surface of the river, saying that it was a boat that would bear him across safely. Again the watchman refused, whereupon T'ieh-kuai, remarking that the cares of this world were evidently too weighty for him to be able to ascend to immortality, stepped on to the leaf himself and vanished.
Regarding the origin and life of this Immortal several different accounts are given. One states that his family name was Chung-li, and that he lived in the Han dynasty, being therefore called Han Chung-li. His cognomen was Ch'uean, his literary appellation Chi Tao, and his pseudonyms Ho-ho Tzu and Wang-yang Tzu; his style Yuen-fang.
He was born in the district of Hsien-yang Hsien (a sub-prefecture of the ancient capital Hsi-an Fu) in Shensi. He became Marshal of the Empire in the cyclic year 2496. In his old age he became a hermit on Yang-chio Shan, thirty li north-east of I-ch'eng Hsien in the prefecture of P'ing-yang Fu in Shansi. He is referred to by the title of King-emperor of the True Active Principle.
Another account describes Chung-li Ch'uean as merely a vice-marshal in the service of Duke Chou Hsiao. He was defeated in battle, and escaped to Chung-nan Shan, where he met the Five Heroes, the Flowers of the East, who instructed him in the doctrine of immortality. At the end of the T'ang dynasty Han Chung-li taught this same science of immortality to Lue Tung-pin (see p. 297), and took the pompous title of the Only Independent One Under Heaven.
Other versions state that Han Chung-li is not the name of a person, but of a country; that he was a Taoist priest Chung Li-tzu; and that he was a beggar, Chung-li by name, who gave to one Lao Chih a pill of immortality. No sooner had the latter swallowed it than he went mad, left his wife, and ascended to Heaven.
During a great famine he transmuted copper and pewter into silver by amalgamating them with some mysterious drug. This treasure he distributed among the poor, and thousands of lives were thus saved.
One day, while he was meditating, the stone wall of his dwelling in the mountains was rent asunder, and a jade casket exposed to view. This was found to contain secret information as to how to become an Immortal.
When he had followed these instructions for some time, his room was filled with many-coloured clouds, music was heard, and a celestial stork came and bore him away on its back to the regions of immortality.
He is sometimes represented holding his feather-fan, Yue-mao Shan; at other times the peach of immortality. Since his admission to the ranks of the gods, he has appeared on earth at various times as the messenger of Heaven. On one of these occasions he met Lue Yen, as narrated on p. 297.
Lan Ts'ai-ho is variously stated to have been a woman and an hermaphrodite. She is the strolling singer or mountebank of the Immortals. Usually she plays a flute or a pair of cymbals. Her origin is unknown, but her personal name is said to have been Yang Su, and her career is assigned to the period of the T'ang dynasty. She wandered abroad clad in a tattered blue gown held by a black wooden belt three inches wide, with one foot shoeless and the other shod, wearing in summer an undergarment of wadded material, and in winter sleeping on the snow, her breath rising in a brilliant cloud like the steam from a boiling cauldron. In this guise she earned her livelihood by singing in the streets, keeping time with a wand three feet long. Though taken for a lunatic, the doggerel verse she sang disproved the popular slanders. It denounced this fleeting life and its delusive pleasures. When given money, she either strung it on a cord and waved it to the time of her song or scattered it on the ground for the poor to pick up.
One day she was found to have become intoxicated in an inn at Feng-yang Fu in Anhui, and while in that state disappeared on a cloud, having thrown down to earth her shoe, robe, belt, and castanets.
According to popular belief, however, only one of the Eight Immortals, namely, Ho Hsien-ku, was a woman, Lan Ts'ai-ho being represented as a young person of about sixteen, bearing a basket of fruit. According to the Hsiu hsiang Pa Hsien tung yu chi, he was 'the Red-footed Great Genius,' Ch'ih-chiao Ta-hsien incarnate. Though he was a man, adds the writer, he could not understand how to be a man (which is perhaps the reason why he has been supposed to be a woman).
The period assigned to Chang Kuo is the middle or close of the seventh to the middle of the eighth century A.D. He lived as a hermit on Chung-t'iao Shan, in the prefecture of P'ing-yang Fu in Shansi. The Emperors T'ai Tsung and Kao Tsung of the T'ang dynasty frequently invited him to Court, but he persistently refused to go. At last, pressed once more by the Empress Wu (A.D. 684-705), he consented to leave his retreat, but was struck down by death at the gate of the Temple of the Jealous Woman. His body began to decay and to be eaten by worms, when lo! he was seen again, alive and well, on the mountains of Heng Chou in P'ing-yang Fu. He rode on a white mule, which carried him thousands of miles in a day, and which, when the journey was finished, he folded up like a sheet of paper and put away in his wallet. When he again required its services, he had only to spurt water upon the packet from his mouth and the animal at once assumed its proper shape. At all times he performed wonderful feats of necromancy, and declared that he had been Grand Minister to the Emperor Yao (2357-2255 B.C.) during a previous existence.
In the twenty-third year (A.D. 735) of the reign-period K'ai Yuean of the Emperor Hsuean Tsung of the T'ang dynasty, he was called to Lo-yang in Honan, and elected Chief of the Imperial Academy, with the honourable title of Very Perspicacious Teacher.
It was just at this time that the famous Taoist Yeh Fa-shan, thanks to his skill in necromancy, was in great favour at Court. The Emperor asked him who this Chang Kuo Lao (he usually has the epithet Lao, 'old,' added to his name) was. "I know," replied the magician; "but if I were to tell your Majesty I should fall dead at your feet, so I dare not speak unless your Majesty will promise that you will go with bare feet and bare head to ask Chang Kuo to forgive you, in which case I should immediately revive." Hsuean Tsung having promised, Fa-shan then said: "Chang Kuo is a white spiritual bat which came out of primeval chaos." No sooner had he spoken than he dropped dead at the Emperor's feet.
Hsuean Tsung, with bare head and feet, went to Chang Kuo as he had promised, and begged forgiveness for his indiscretion. The latter then sprinkled water on Fa-shan's face and he revived. Soon after Chang fell sick and returned to die in the Heng Chou Mountains during the period A.D. 742-746. When his disciples opened his tomb, they found it empty.
He is usually seen mounted on his white mule, sometimes facing its head, sometimes its tail. He carries a phoenix-feather or a peach of immortality.
At his interviews with the Emperor Ming Huang in A.D. 723 (when he was alive still) Chang Kuo "entertained the Emperor with a variety of magical tricks, such as rendering himself invisible, drinking off a cup of aconite, and felling birds or flowers by pointing at them. He refused the hand of an imperial princess, and also declined to have his portrait placed in the Hall of Worthies."
A picture of Chang Kuo sitting on a donkey and offering a descendant to the newly married couple is often found in the nuptial chamber. It seems somewhat incongruous that an old ascetic should be associated with matrimonial happiness and the granting of offspring, but the explanation may possibly be connected with his performance of wonderful feats of necromancy, though he is said not to have given encouragement to others in these things during his lifetime.
Ho Hsien Ku
A maiden holding in her hand a magic lotus-blossom, the flower of open-heartedness, or the peach of immortality given her by Lue Tung-pin in the mountain-gorge as a symbol of identity, playing at times the sheng or reed-organ, or drinking wine—this is the picture the Chinese paint of the Immortal Ho Hsien Ku.
She was the daughter of Ho T'ai, a native of Tseng-ch'eng Hsien in Kuangtung. Others say her father was a shopkeeper at Ling-ling in Hunan. She lived in the time of the usurping empress Wu (A.D. 684-705) of the T'ang dynasty. At her birth six hairs were found growing on the crown of her head, and the account says she never had any more, though the pictures represent her with a full head of hair. She elected to live on Yuen-mu Ling, twenty li west of Tseng-ch'eng Hsien. On that mountain was found a stone called yuen-mu shih, 'mother-of-pearl.' In a dream she saw a spirit who ordered her to powder and eat one of these stones, by doing which she could acquire both agility and immortality. She complied with this injunction, and also vowed herself to a life of virginity. Her days were thenceforth passed in floating from one peak to another, bringing home at night to her mother the fruits she collected on the mountain. She gradually found that she had no need to eat in order to live. Her fame having reached the ears of the Empress, she was invited to Court, but while journeying thither suddenly disappeared from mortal view and became an Immortal. She is said to have been seen again in A.D. 750 floating upon a cloud of many colours at the temple of Ma Ku, the famous female Taoist magician, and again, some years later, in the city of Canton.
She is represented as an extremely beautiful maiden, and is remarkable as occupying so prominent a position in a cult in which no system of female asceticism is developed.
Lue Tung-pin's family name was Lue; his personal name Tung-pin; also Yen; and his pseudonym Shun Yang Tzu. He was born in A.D. 798 at Yung-lo Hsien, in the prefecture of Ho-chung Fu in Shansi, a hundred and twenty li south-east of the present sub-prefecture of Yung-chi Hsien (P'u Chou). He came of an official family, his grandfather having been President of the Ministry of Ceremonies, and his father Prefect of Hai Chou. He was 5 feet 2 inches in height, and at twenty was still unmarried. At this time he made a journey to Lu Shan in Kiangsi, where he met the Fire-dragon, who presented him with a magic sword, which enabled him at will to hide himself in the heavens.
During his visit to the capital, Ch'ang-an in Shensi, he met the Immortal Han Chung-li, who instructed him in the mysteries of alchemy and the elixir of life. When he revealed himself as Yuen-fang Hsien-sheng, Lue Yen expressed an ardent desire to aid in converting mankind to the true doctrine, but was first exposed to a series of ten temptations. These being successfully overcome, he was invested with supernatural power and magic weapons, with which he traversed the Empire, slaying dragons and ridding the earth of divers kinds of evils, during a period of upward of four hundred years. Another version says that Han Chung-li was in an inn, heating a jug of rice-wine. Here Lue met him, and going to sleep dreamed that he was promoted to a very high office and was exceptionally favoured by fortune in every way. This had gone on for fifty years when unexpectedly a serious fault caused him to be condemned to exile, and his family was exterminated. Alone in the world, he was sighing bitterly, when he awoke with a start. All had taken place in so short a space of time that Han Chung-li's wine was not yet hot. This is the incident referred to in Chinese literature in the phrase 'rice-wine dream.' Convinced of the hollowness of worldly dignities, he followed Han Chung-li to the Ho Ling Mountains at Chung-nan in Shensi, where he was initiated into the divine mysteries, and became an Immortal.
In A.D. 1115 the Emperor Hui Tsung conferred on him the title of Hero of Marvellous Wisdom; and later he was proclaimed King-emperor and Strong Protector.
There are various versions of the legend of Lue Tung-pin. One of these adds that in order to fulfil his promise made to Chung-li to do what he could to aid in the work of converting his fellow-creatures to the true doctrine, he went to Yuech Yang in the guise of an oil-seller, intending to immortalize all those who did not ask for additional weight to the quantity of oil purchased. During a whole year he met only selfish and extortionate customers, with the exception of one old lady who alone did not ask for more than was her due. So he went to her house, and seeing a well in the courtyard threw a few grains of rice into it. The water miraculously turned into wine, from the sale of which the dame amassed great wealth.
He was very skilful in fencing, and is always represented with his magic Excalibur named Chan-yao Kuai, 'Devil-slaying Sabre,' and in one hand holds a fly-whisk, Yuen-chou, or 'Cloud-sweeper,' a symbol common in Taoism of being able to fly at will through the air and to walk on the clouds of Heaven.
Like Kuan Kung, he is shown bearing in his arms a male child—indicating a promise of numerous progeny, including literati and famous officials. Consequently he is one of the spiritual beings honoured by the literati.
Han Hsiang Tzu
Han Hsiang Tzu, who is depicted with a bouquet of flowers or a basket of peaches of immortality, is stated to have been a grand-nephew of Han Yue (A.D. 768-824), the great statesman, philosopher, and poet of the T'ang dynasty, and an ardent votary of transcendental study. His own name was Ch'ing Fu. The child was entrusted to his uncle to be educated and prepared for the public examinations. He excelled his teacher in intelligence and the performance of wonderful feats, such as the production from a little earth in a flower-pot of some marvellous flowering plants, on the leaves of which were written in letters of gold some verses to this effect:
The clouds hide Mount Ch'in Ling. Where is your abode? The snow is deep on Lan Kuan; Your horse refuses to advance.
"What is the meaning of these verses?" asked Han Yue. "You will see," replied Han Hsiang Tzu.
Some time afterward Han Yue was sent in disgrace to the prefecture of Ch'ao-chou Fu in Kuangtung. When he reached the foot of Lan Kuan the snow was so deep that he could not go on. Han Hsiang Tzu appeared, and, sweeping away the snow, made a path for him. Han Yue then understood the prophecy in his pupil's verses.
When Han Hsiang Tzu was leaving his uncle, he gave him the following in verse:
Many indeed are the eminent men who have served their country, but which of them surpasses you in his knowledge of literature? When you have reached a high position, you will be buried in a damp and foggy land.
Han Yue also gave his pupil a farewell verse:
How many here below allow themselves to be inebriated by the love of honours and pelf! Alone and watchful you persevere in the right path. But a time will come when, taking your flight to the sky, you will open in the ethereal blue a luminous roadway.
Han Yue was depressed at the thought of the damp climate of his place of exile. "I fear there is no doubt," he said, "that I shall die without seeing my family again."
Han Hsiang Tzu consoled him, gave him a prescription, and said: "Not only will you return in perfect health to the bosom of your family, but you will be reinstated in your former offices." All this took place exactly as he had predicted.
Another account states that he became the disciple of Lue Tung-pin, and, having been carried up to the supernatural peach-tree of the genii, fell from its branches, but during his descent attained to the state of immortality. Still another version says that he was killed by the fall, was transformed, and then underwent the various experiences with Han Yue already related.
Ts'ao Kuo-chiu was connected with the imperial family of the Sungs, and is shown with the tablet of admission to Court in his hand. He became one of the Eight Immortals because the other seven, who occupied seven of the eight grottos of the Upper Spheres, wished to see the eighth inhabited, and nominated him because "his disposition resembled that of a genie." The legend relates that the Empress Ts'ao, wife of the Emperor Jen Tsung (A.D. 1023-64), had two younger brothers. The elder of the two, Ching-hsiu, did not concern himself with the affairs of State; the younger, Ching-chih, was notorious for his misbehaviour. In spite of all warnings he refused to reform, and being at last guilty of homicide was condemned to death. His brother, ashamed at what had occurred, went and hid in the mountains, where he clothed his head and body with wild plants, resolved to lead the life of a hermit. One day Han Chung-li and Lue Tung-pin found him in his retreat, and asked him what he was doing. "I am engaged in studying the Way," he replied. "What way, and where is it?" they asked. He pointed to the sky. "Where is the sky?" they went on. He pointed to his heart. The two visitors smiled and said: "The heart is the sky, and the sky is the Way; you understand the origin of things." They then gave him a recipe for perfection, to enable him to take his place among the Perfect Ones. In a few days only he had reached this much-sought-after condition.
In another version we find fuller details concerning this Immortal. A graduate named Yuean Wen-cheng of Ch'ao-yang Hsien, in the sub-prefecture of Ch'ao-chou Fu in Kuangtung, was travelling with his wife to take his examinations at the capital. Ts'ao Ching-chih, the younger brother of the Empress, saw the lady, and was struck with her beauty. In order to gratify his passion he invited the graduate and his young wife to the palace, where he strangled the husband and tried to force the wife to cohabit with him. She refused obstinately, and as a last resort he had her imprisoned in a noisome dungeon. The soul of the graduate appeared to the imperial Censor Pao Lao-yeh, and begged him to exact vengeance for the execrable crime. The elder brother, Ching-hsiu, seeing the case put in the hands of the upright Pao Lao-yeh, and knowing his brother to be guilty of homicide, advised him to put the woman to death, in order to cut off all sources of information and so to prevent further proceedings. The young voluptuary thereupon caused the woman to be thrown down a deep well, but the star T'ai-po Chin-hsing, in the form of an old man, drew her out again. While making her escape, she met on the road an official procession which she mistook for that of Pao Lao-yeh, and, going up to the sedan chair, made her accusation. This official was no other than the elder brother of the murderer. Ching-hsiu, terrified, dared not refuse to accept the charge, but on the pretext that the woman had not placed herself respectfully by the side of the official chair, and thus had not left a way clear for the passage of his retinue, he had her beaten with iron-spiked whips, and she was cast away for dead in a neighbouring lane. This time also she revived, and ran to inform Pao Lao-yeh. The latter immediately had Ts'ao Ching-hsiu arrested, cangued, and fettered. Without loss of time he wrote an invitation to the second brother, Ts'ao Ching-chih, and on his arrival confronted him with the graduate's wife, who accused him to his face. Pao Lao-yeh had him put in a pit, and remained deaf to all entreaties of the Emperor and Empress on his behalf. A few days later the murderer was taken to the place of execution, and his head rolled in the dust. The problem now was how to get Ts'ao Ching-hsiu out of the hands of the terrible Censor. The Emperor Jen Tsung, to please the Empress, had a universal amnesty proclaimed throughout the Empire, under which all prisoners were set free. On receipt of this edict, Pao Lao-yeh liberated Ts'ao Ching-hsiu from the cangue, and allowed him to go free. As one risen from the dead, he gave himself up to the practice of perfection, became a hermit, and, through the instruction of the Perfect Ones, became one of the Eight Immortals.
Pa Hsien Kuo Hai
The phrase Pa Hsien kuo hai, 'the Eight Immortals crossing the sea,' refers to the legend of an expedition made by these deities. Their object was to behold the wondrous things of the sea not to be found in the celestial sphere.
The usual mode of celestial locomotion—by taking a seat on a cloud—was discarded at the suggestion of Lue Yen who recommended that they should show the infinite variety of their talents by placing things on the surface of the sea and stepping on them.
Li T'ieh-kuai threw down his crutch, and scudded rapidly over the waves. Chung-li Ch'uean used his feather-fan, Chang Kuo his paper mule, Lue Tung-pin his sword, Han Hsiang Tzu his flower-basket, Ho Hsien Ku her lotus-flower, Lan Ts'ai-ho his musical instrument, and Ts'ao Kuo-chiu his tablet of admission to Court. The popular pictures often represent most of these articles changed into various kinds of sea-monsters. The musical instrument was noticed by the son of the Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea. This avaricious prince conceived the idea of stealing the instrument and imprisoning its owner. The Immortals thereupon declared war, the details of which are described at length by the Chinese writers, the outcome being that the Dragon-king was utterly defeated. After this the Eight Immortals continued their submarine exploits for an indefinite time, encountering numberless adventures; but here the author travels far into the fertile region of romance, beyond the frontiers of our present province.
The Guardian of the Gate of Heaven
Li, the Pagoda-bearer
In Buddhist temples there is to be seen a richly attired figure of a man holding in his hand a model of a pagoda. He is Li, the Prime Minister of Heaven and father of No-cha.
He was a general under the tyrant Chou and commander of Ch'en-t'ang Kuan at the time when the bloody war was being waged which resulted in the extinction of the Yin dynasty.
No-cha is one of the most frequently mentioned heroes in Chinese romance; he is represented in one account as being Yue Huang's shield-bearer, sixty feet in height, his three heads with nine eyes crowned by a golden wheel, his eight hands each holding a magic weapon, and his mouth vomiting blue clouds. At the sound of his Voice, we are told, the heavens shook and the foundations of the earth trembled. His duty was to bring into submission all the demons which desolated the world.
His birth was in this wise. Li Ching's wife, Yin Shih, bore him three sons, the eldest Chin-cha, the second Mu-cha, and the third No-cha, generally known as 'the Third Prince.'
Yin Shih dreamed one night that a Taoist priest entered her room. She indignantly exclaimed: "How dare you come into my room in this indiscreet manner?" The priest replied: "Woman, receive the child of the unicorn!" Before she could reply the Taoist pushed an object to her bosom.
Yin Shih awoke in a fright, a cold sweat all over her body. Having awakened her husband, she told him what she had dreamed. At that moment she was seized with the pains of childbirth. Li Ching withdrew to an adjoining room, uneasy at what seemed to be inauspicious omens. A little later two servants ran to him, crying out: "Your wife has given birth to a monstrous freak!"
An Avatar of the Intelligent Pearl
Li Ching seized his sword and went into his wife's room, which he found filled with a red light exhaling a most extraordinary odour. A ball of flesh was rolling on the floor like a wheel; with a blow of his sword he cut it open, and a babe emerged, surrounded by a halo of red light. Its face was very white, a gold bracelet was on its right wrist, and it wore a pair of red silk trousers, from which proceeded rays of dazzling golden light. The bracelet was 'the horizon of Heaven and earth,' and the two precious objects belonged to the cave Chin-kuang Tung of T'ai-i Chen-jen, the priest who had bestowed them upon him when he appeared to his mother during her sleep. The child itself was an avatar of Ling Chu-tzu, 'the Intelligent Pearl.'
On the morrow T'ai-i Chen-jen returned and asked Li Ching's permission to see the new-born babe. "He shall be called No-cha," he said, "and will become my disciple."
A Precocious Youth
At seven years of age No-cha was already six feet in height. One day he asked his mother if he might go for a walk outside the town. His mother granted him permission on condition that he was accompanied by a servant. She also counselled him not to remain too long outside the wall, lest his father should become anxious.
It was in the fifth moon: the heat was excessive. No-cha had not gone a li before he was in a profuse perspiration. Some way ahead he saw a clump of trees, to which he hastened, and, settling himself in the shade, opened his coat, and breathed with relief the fresher air. In front of him he saw a stream of limpid green water running between two rows of willows, gently agitated by the movement of the wind, and flowing round a rock. The child ran to the banks of the stream, and said to his guardian: "I am covered with perspiration, and will bathe from the rock." "Be quick," said the servant; "if your father returns home before you he will be anxious." No-cha stripped himself, took his red silk trousers, several feet long, and dipped them in the water, intending to use them as a towel. No sooner were the magic trousers immersed in the stream than the water began to boil, and Heaven and earth trembled. The water of this river, the Chiu-wan Ho, 'Nine-bends River,' which communicated with the Eastern Sea, turned completely red, and Lung Wang's palace shook to its foundations. The Dragon-king, surprised at seeing the walls of his crystal palace shaking, called his officers and inquired: "How is it that the palace threatens to collapse? There should not be an earthquake at this time." He ordered one of his attendants to go at once and find out what evil was giving rise to the commotion. When the officer reached the river he saw that the water was red, but noticed nothing else except a boy dipping a band of silk in the stream. He cleft the water and called out angrily: "That child should be thrown into the water for making the river red and causing Lung Wang's palace to shake."
"Who is that who speaks so brutally?" said No-cha. Then, seeing that the man intended to seize him, he jumped aside, took his gold bracelet, and hurled it in the air. It fell on the head of the officer, and No-cha left him dead on the rock. Then he picked up his bracelet and said smiling: "His blood has stained my precious horizon of Heaven and earth." He then washed it in the water.
The Slaying of the Dragon-king's Son
"How is it that the officer does not return?" inquired Lung Wang. At that moment attendants came to inform him that his retainer had been murdered by a boy.
Thereupon Ao Ping, the third son of Lung Wang, placing himself at the head of a troop of marines, his trident in his hand, left the palace precincts. The warriors dashed into the river, raising on every side waves mountains high. Seeing the water rising, No-cha stood up on the rock and was confronted by Ao Ping mounted on a sea-monster.
"Who slew my messenger?" cried the warrior.
"I did," answered No-cha.
"Who are you?" demanded Ao Ping.
"I am No-cha, the third son of Li Ching of Ch'en-t'ang Kuan. I came here to bathe and refresh myself; your messenger cursed me, and I killed him. Then—"
"Rascal! do you not know that your victim was a deputy of the King of Heaven? How dare you kill him, and then boast of your crime?"
So saying, Ao Ping thrust at the boy with his trident. No-cha, by a brisk move, evaded the thrust.
"Who are you?" he asked in turn.
"I am Ao Ping, the third son of Lung Wang."
"Ah, you are a blusterer," jeered the boy; "if you dare to touch me I will skin you alive, you and your mud-eels!"
"You make me choke with rage," rejoined Ao Ping, at the same time thrusting again with his trident.
Furious at this renewed attack, No-cha spread his silk trousers in the air, and thousands of balls of fire flew out of them, felling Lung Wang's son. No-cha put his foot on Ao Ping's head and struck it with his magic bracelet, whereupon he appeared in his true form of a dragon.
"I am now going to pull out your sinews," he said, "in order to make a belt for my father to use to bind on his cuirass."
No-cha was as good as his word, and Ao Ping's escort ran and informed Lung Wang of the fate of his son. The Dragon-king went to Li Ching and demanded an explanation.
Being entirely ignorant of what had taken place, Li Ching sought No-cha to question him.
An Unruly Son
No-cha was in the garden, occupied in weaving the belt of dragon-sinew. The stupefaction of Li Ching may be imagined. "You have brought most awful misfortunes upon us," he exclaimed. "Come and give an account of your conduct." "Have no fear," replied No-cha superciliously; "his son's sinews are still intact; I will give them back to him if he wishes."
When they entered the house he saluted the Dragon-king, made a curt apology, and offered to return his son's sinews. The father, moved with grief at the sight of the proofs of the tragedy, said bitterly to Li Ching: "You have such a son and yet dare to deny his guilt, though you heard him haughtily admitting it! To-morrow I shall report the matter to Yue Huang." Having spoken thus, he departed.
Li Ching was overwhelmed at the enormity of his son's crime. His wife, in an adjoining room, hearing his lamentations, went to her husband. "What obnoxious creature is this that you have brought into the world?" he said to her angrily. "He has slain two spirits, the son of Lung Wang and a steward sent by the King of Heaven. To-morrow the Dragon-king is to lodge a complaint with Yue Huang, and two or three days hence will see the end of our existence."
The poor mother began to weep copiously. "What!" she sobbed, "you whom I suffered so much for, you are to be the cause of our ruin and death!"
No-cha, seeing his parents so distracted, fell on his knees. "Let me tell you once for all," he said, "that I am no ordinary mortal. I am the disciple of T'ai-i Chen-jen; my magic weapons I received from him; it is they which brought upon me the undying hatred of Lung Wang. But he cannot prevail. To-day I will go and ask my master's advice. The guilty alone should suffer the penalty; it is unjust that his parents should suffer in his stead."
He then left for Ch'ien-yuean Shan, and entered the cave of his master T'ai-i Chen-jen, to whom he related his adventures. The master dwelt upon the grave consequences of the murders, and then ordered No-cha to bare his breast. With his finger he drew on the skin a magic formula, after which he gave him some secret instructions. "Now," he said, "go to the gate of Heaven and await the arrival of Lung Wang, who purposes to accuse you before Yue Huang. Then you must come again to consult me, that your parents may not be molested because of your misdeeds."
When No-cha reached the gate of Heaven it was closed. In vain he sought for Lung Wang, but after a while he saw him approaching. Lung Wang did not see No-cha, for the formula written by T'ai-i Chen-jen rendered him invisible. As Lung Wang approached the gate No-cha ran up to him and struck him so hard a blow with his golden bracelet that he fell to the ground. Then No-cha stamped on him, cursing him vehemently.
The Dragon-king now recognized his assailant and sharply reproached him with his crimes, but the only reparation he got was a renewal of kicks and blows. Then, partially lifting Lung Wang's cloak and raising his shield, No-cha tore off from his body about forty scales. Blood flowed copiously, and the Dragon-king, under stress of the pain, begged his foe to spare his life. To this No-cha consented on condition that he relinquished his purpose of accusing him before Yue Huang.
"Now," went on No-cha, "change yourself into a small serpent that I may take you back without fear of your escaping."
Lung Wang took the form of a small blue dragon, and followed No-cha to his father's house, upon entering which Lung Wang resumed his normal form, and accused No-cha of having belaboured him. "I will go with all the Dragon-kings and lay an accusation before Yue Huang," he said. Thereupon he transformed himself into a gust of wind, and disappeared.
No-cha draws a Bow at a Venture
"Things are going from bad to worse," sighed Li Ching, His son, however, consoled him: "I beg you, my father, not to let the future trouble you. I am the chosen one of the gods. My master is T'ai-i Chen-jen, and he has assured me that he can easily protect us."
No-cha now went out and ascended a tower which commanded a view of the entrance of the fort. There he found a wonderful bow and three magic arrows. No-cha did not know that this was the spiritual weapon belonging to the fort. "My master informed me that I am destined to fight to establish the coming Chou dynasty; I ought therefore to perfect myself in the use of weapons. This is a good opportunity." He accordingly seized the bow and shot an arrow toward the south-west. A red trail indicated the path of the arrow, which hissed as it flew. At that moment Pi Yuen, a servant of Shih-chi Niang-niang, happened to be at the foot of K'u-lou Shan (Skeleton Hill), in front of the cave of his mistress. The arrow pierced his throat, and he fell dead, bathed in his blood. Shih-chi Niang-niang came out of her cave, and examining the arrow found that it bore the inscription: "Arrow which shakes the heavens." She thus knew that it must have come from Ch'en-t'ang Kuan, where the magic bow was kept.
The goddess mounted her blue phoenix, flew over the fort, seized Li Ching, and carried him to her cave. There she made him kneel before her, and reminded him how she had protected him that he might gain honour and glory on earth before he attained to immortality. "It is thus that you show your gratitude—by killing my servant!"
Li Ching swore that he was innocent; but the tell-tale arrow was there, and it could not but have come from the fortress. Li Ching begged the goddess to set him at liberty, in order that he might find the culprit and bring him to her. "If I cannot find him," he added, "you may take my life."
Once again No-cha frankly admitted his deed to his father, and followed him to the cave of Shih-chi Niang-niang. When he reached the entrance the second servant reproached him with the crime, whereupon No-cha struck him a heavy blow. Shih-chi Niang-niang, infuriated, threw herself at No-cha, sword in hand; one after the other she wrenched from him his bracelet and magic trousers.
Deprived of his magic weapons, No-cha fled to his master, T'ai-i Chen-jen. The goddess followed and demanded that he be put to death. A terrible conflict ensued between the two champions, until T'ai-i Chen-jen hurled into the air his globe of nine fire-dragons, which, falling on Shih-chi Niang-niang, enveloped her in a whirlwind of flame. When this had passed it was seen that she was changed into stone.
"Now you are safe," said T'ai-i Chen-jen to No-cha, "but return quickly, for the Four Dragon-kings have laid their accusation before Yue Huang, and they are going to carry off your parents. Follow my advice, and you will rescue your parents from their misfortune."
No-cha commits Hara-Kiri
On his return No-cha found the Four Dragon-kings on the point of carrying off his parents. "It is I," he said, "who killed Ao Ping, and I who should pay the penalty. Why are you molesting my parents? I am about to return to them what I received from them. Will it satisfy you?"
Lung Wang agreed, whereupon No-cha took a sword, and before their eyes cut off an arm, sliced open his stomach, and fell unconscious. His soul, borne on the wind, went straight to the cave of T'ai-i Chen-jen, while his mother busied herself with burying his body.
"Your home is not here," said his master to him; "return to Ch'en-t'ang Kuan, and beg your mother to build a temple on Ts'ui-p'ing Shan, forty li farther on. Incense will be burned to you for three years, at the end of which time you will be reincarnated."
A Habitation for the Soul
During the night, toward the third watch, while his mother was in a deep sleep, No-cha appeared to her in a dream and said: "My mother, pity me; since my death, my soul, separated from my body, wanders about without a home. Build me, I pray you, a temple on Ts'ui-p'ing Shan, that I may be reincarnated." His mother awoke in tears, and related her vision to Li Ching, who reproached her for her blind attachment to her unnatural son, the cause of so much disaster.
For five or six nights the son appeared to his mother, each time repeating his request. The last time he added: "Do not forget that by nature I am ferocious; if you refuse my request evil will befall you."
His mother then sent builders to the mountain to construct a temple to No-cha, and his image was set up in it. Miracles were not wanting, and the number of pilgrims who visited the shrine increased daily.
Li Ching destroys his Son's Statue
One day Li Ching, with a troop of his soldiers, was passing this mountain, and saw the roads crowded with pilgrims of both sexes. "Where are these people going?" he asked. "For six months past," he was told, "the spirit of the temple on this mountain has continued to perform miracles. People come from far and near to worship and supplicate him."
"What is the name of this spirit?" inquired Li Ching.
"No-cha," they replied.
"No-cha!" exclaimed the father. "I will go and see him myself."
In a rage Li Ching entered the temple and examined the statue, which was a speaking image of his son. By its side were images of two of his servants. He took his whip and began to beat the statue, cursing it all the while. "It is not enough, apparently, for you to have been a source of disaster to us," he said; "but even after your death you must deceive the multitude." He whipped the statue until it fell to pieces; he then kicked over the images of the servants, and went back, admonishing the people not to worship so wicked a man, the shame and ruin of his family. By his orders the temple was burnt to the ground.
When he reached Ch'en-t'ang Kuan his wife came to him, but he received her coldly. "You gave birth to that cursed son," he said, "who has been the plague of our lives, and after his death you build him a temple in which he deceives the people. Do you wish to have me disgraced? If I were to be accused at Court of having instituted the worship of false gods, would not my destruction be certain? I have burned the temple, and intend that that shall settle the matter once for all; if ever you think of rebuilding it I will break off all relations with you."
No-cha consults his Master
At the time of his father's visit No-cha was absent from the temple. On his return he found only its smoking remnants. The spirits of his two servants ran up lamenting. "Who has demolished my temple?" he asked. "Li Ching," they replied. "In doing this he has exceeded his powers," said No-cha. "I gave him back the substance I received from him; why did he come with violence to break up my image? I will have nothing more to do with him."
No-cha's soul had already begun to be spiritualised. So he determined to go to T'ai-i Chen-jen and beg for his help. "The worship rendered to you there," replied the Taoist, "had nothing in it which should have offended your father; it did not concern him. He was in the wrong. Before long Chiang Tzu-ya will descend to inaugurate the new dynasty, and since you must throw in your lot with him I will find a way to aid you."
A New No-cha
T'ai-i Chen-jen had two water-lily stalks and three lotus-leaves brought to him. He spread these on the ground in the form of a human being and placed the soul of No-cha in this lotus skeleton, uttering magic incantations the while. There emerged a new No-cha full of life, with a fresh complexion, purple lips, keen glance, and sixteen feet of height. "Follow me to my peach-garden," said T'ai-i Chen-jen, "and I will give you your weapons." He handed him a fiery spear, very sharp, and two wind-and-fire wheels which, placed under his feet, served as a Vehicle. A brick of gold in a panther-skin bag completed his magic armament. The new warrior, after thanking his master, mounted his wind-and-fire wheels and returned to Ch'en-t'ang Kuan.
A Battle between Father and Son
Li Ching was informed that his son No-cha had returned and was threatening vengeance. So he took his weapons, mounted his horse, and went forth to meet him. Having cursed each other profusely, they joined battle, but Li Ching was worsted and compelled to flee. No-cha pursued his father, but as he was on the point of overtaking him Li Ching's second son, Mu-cha, came on the scene, and keenly reproached his brother for his unfilial conduct.
"Li Ching is no longer my father," replied No-cha. "I gave him back my substance; why did he burn my temple and smash up my image?"
Mu-cha thereupon prepared to defend his father, but received on his back a blow from the golden brick, and fell unconscious. No-cha then resumed his pursuit of Li Ching.
His strength exhausted, and in danger of falling into the hands of his enemy, Li Ching drew his sword and was about to kill himself. "Stop!" cried a Taoist priest. "Come into my cave, and I will protect you."
When No-cha came up he could not see Li Ching, and demanded his surrender from the Taoist. But he had to do with one stronger than himself, no less a being than Wen-chu T'ien-tsun, whom T'ai-i Chen-jen had sent in order that No-cha might receive a lesson. The Taoist, with the aid of his magic weapon, seized No-cha, and in a moment he found a gold ring fastened round his neck, two chains on his feet, and he was bound to a pillar of gold.
Peace at the Last
At this moment, as if by accident, T'ai-i Chen-jen appeared upon the scene. His master had No-cha brought before Wen-chu T'ien-tsun and Li Ching, and advised him to live at peace with his father, but he also rebuked the father for having burned the temple on Ts'ui-p'ing Shan. This done, he ordered Li Ching to go home, and No-cha to return to his cave. The latter, overflowing with anger, his heart full of vengeance, started again in pursuit of Li Ching, swearing that he would punish him. But the Taoist reappeared and prepared to protect Li Ching.
No-cha, bristling like a savage cat, threw himself at his enemy and tried to pierce him with his spear, but a white lotus-flower emerged from the Taoist's mouth and arrested the course of the weapon. As No-cha continued to threaten him, the Taoist drew from his sleeve a mysterious object which rose in the air, and, falling at the feet of No-cha, enveloped him in flames. Then No-cha prayed for mercy. The Taoist exacted from him three separate promises: to live in harmony with his father, to recognize and address him as his father, and to throw himself at his, the Taoist's, feet, to indicate his reconciliation with himself.
After this act of reconciliation had been performed, Wen-chu T'ien-tsun promised Li Ching that he should leave his official post to become an Immortal able to place his services at the disposal of the new Chou dynasty, shortly to come into power. In order to ensure that their reconciliation should last for ever, and to place it beyond No-cha's power to seek revenge, he gave Li Ching the wonderful object by whose agency No-cha's feet had been burned, and which had been the means of bringing him into subjection. It was a golden pagoda, which became the characteristic weapon of Li Ching, and gave rise to his nickname, Li the Pagoda-bearer. Finally, Yue Huang appointed him Generalissimo of the Twenty-six Celestial Officers, Grand Marshal of the Skies, and Guardian of the Gate of Heaven.
A Battle of the Gods
Multifarious Versatile Divinities
The Feng shen yen i describes at length how, during the wars which preceded the accession of the Chou dynasty in 1122 B.C., a multitude of demigods, Buddhas, Immortals, etc., took part on one side or the other, some fighting for the old, some for the new dynasty. They were wonderful creatures, gifted with marvellous powers. They could at will change their form, multiply their heads and limbs, become invisible, and create, by merely uttering a word, terrible monsters who bit and destroyed, or sent forth poison gases, or emitted flames from their nostrils. In these battles there is much lightning, thunder, flight of fire-dragons, dark clouds which vomit burning hails of murderous weapons; swords, spears, and arrows fall from the sky on to the heads of the combatants; the earth trembles, the pillars of Heaven shake.
One of these gifted warriors was Chun T'i, a Taoist of the Western Paradise, who appeared on the scene when the armies of the rival dynasties were facing each other. K'ung Hsuean was gallantly holding the pass of the Chin-chi Ling; Chiang Tzu-ya was trying to take it by assault—so far without success.
Chun T'i's mission was to take K'ung Hsuean to the abode of the blest, his wisdom and general progress having now reached the required degree of perfection. This was a means of breaking down the invincible resistance of this powerful enemy and at the same time of rewarding his brilliant talents.
But K'ung Hsuean did not approve of this plan, and a fight took place between the two champions. At one moment Chun T'i was seized by a luminous bow and carried into the air, but while enveloped in a cloud of fire he appeared with eighteen arms and twenty-four heads, holding in each hand a powerful talisman.
The One-eyed Peacock
He put a silk cord round K'ung Hsuean's neck, touched him with his wand, and forced him to reassume his original form of a red one-eyed peacock. Chun T'i seated himself on the peacock's back, and it flew across the sky, bearing its saviour and master to the Western Paradise. Brilliantly variegated clouds marked its track through space.
Arrangements for the Siege
On the disappearance of its defender the defile of Chin-chi Ling was captured, and the village of Chieh-p'ai Kuan, the bulwark of the enemy's forces, reached. This place was defended by a host of genii and Immortals, the most distinguished among them being the Taoist T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu, whose specially effective charms had so far kept the fort secure against every attempt upon it.
Lao Tzu himself had deigned to descend from dwelling in happiness, together with Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun and Chieh-yin Tao-jen, to take part in the siege. But the town had four gates, and these heavenly rulers were only three in number. So Chun T'i was recalled, and each member of the quartette was entrusted with the task of capturing one of the gates.
Chun T'i's duty was to take the Chueeh-hsien Men, defended by T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu. The warriors who had tried to enter the town by this gate had one and all paid for their temerity with their lives. The moment each had crossed the threshold a clap of thunder had resounded, and a mysterious sword, moving with lightning rapidity, had slain him.
Offence and Defence
As Chun T'i advanced at the head of his warriors terrible lightning rent the air and the mysterious sword descended like a thunderbolt upon his head. But Chun T'i held on high his Seven-precious Branch, whereupon there emerged from it thousands of lotus-flowers, which formed an impenetrable covering and stopped the sword in its fall. This and the other gates were then forced, and a grand assault was now directed against the chief defender of the town.
T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu, riding his ox and surrounded by his warriors, for the last time risked the chance of war and bravely faced his four terrible adversaries. With his sword held aloft, he threw himself on Chieh-yin Tao-jen, whose only weapon was his fly-whisk. But there emerged from this a five-coloured lotus-flower, which stopped the sword-thrust. While Lao Tzu struck the hero with his staff, Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun warded off the terrible sword with his jade ju-i.
Chun T'i now called to his help the spiritual peacock, and took the form of a warrior with twenty-four heads and eighteen arms. His mysterious weapons surrounded T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu, and Lao Tzu struck the hero so hard that fire came out from his eyes, nose, and mouth. Unable to parry the assaults of his adversaries, he next received a blow from Chun T'i's magic wand, which felled him, and he took flight in a whirlwind of dust.
The defenders now offered no further resistance, and Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun thanked Chun T'i for the valuable assistance he had rendered in the capture of the village, after which the gods returned to their palace in the Western Heaven.
Attempts at Revenge
T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu, vanquished and routed, swore to have his revenge. He called to his aid the spirits of the twenty-eight constellations, and marched to attack Wu Wang's army. The honour of the victory that ensued belonged to Chun T'i, who disarmed both the Immortal Wu Yuen and T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu.
Wu Yuen, armed with his magic sword, entered the lists against Chun T'i; but the latter opened his mouth and a blue lotus-flower came out and stopped the blows aimed at him. Other thrusts were met by similar miracles.
"Why continue so useless a fight?" said Chun T'i at last. "Abandon the cause of the Shang, and come with me to the Western Paradise. I came to save you, and you must not compel me to make you resume your original form."
An insulting flow of words was the reply; again the magic sword descended like lightning, and again the stroke was averted by a timely lotus-flower. Chun T'i now waved his wand, and the magic sword was broken to bits, the handle only remaining in Wu Yuen's hand.
The Golden-bearded Turtle
Mad with rage, Wu Yuen seized his club and tried to fell his enemy. But Chun T'i summoned a disciple, who appeared with a bamboo pole. This he thrust out like a fishing-rod, and on a hook at the end of the line attached to the pole dangled a large golden-bearded turtle. This was the Immortal Wu Yuen, now in his original form of a spiritual turtle. The disciple seated himself on its back, and both, disappearing into space, returned to the Western Heavens.
The Battle Won
To conquer T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu was more difficult, but after a long fight Chun T'i waved his Wand of the Seven Treasures and broke his adversary's sword. The latter, disarmed and vanquished, disappeared in a cloud of dust. Chun T'i did not trouble to pursue him. The battle was won.
A disciple of T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu, P'i-lu Hsien, 'the Immortal P'i-lu,' seeing his master beaten in two successive engagements, left the battlefield and followed Chun T'i to the Western Paradise, to become a Buddha. He is known as P'i-lu Fo, one of the principal gods of Buddhism.
Chun T'i's festival is celebrated on the sixth day of the third moon. He is generally shown with eight hands and three faces, one of the latter being that of a pig.
How the Monkey Became a God
The Hsi Yu Chi
In dealing with the gods of China we noticed the monkey among them. Why and in what manner he attained to that exalted rank is set forth in detail in the Hsi yu chi —a work the contents of which have become woven into the fabric of Chinese legendary lore and are known and loved by every intelligent native. Its pages are filled with ghosts, demons, and fairies, good and bad, but "it contains no more than the average Chinese really believes to exist, and his belief in such manifestations is so firm that from the cradle to the grave he lives and moves and has his being in reference to them." Its characters are said to be allegorical, though it may be doubted whether these implications may rightly be read into the Chinese text. Thus:
Hsuean (or Yuean) Chuang, or T'ang Seng, is the pilgrim of the Hsi yu chi, who symbolizes conscience, to which all actions are brought for trial. The priestly garment of Hsuean Chuang symbolizes the good work of the rectified human nature. It is held to be a great protection to the new heart from the myriads of evil beings which surround it, seeking its destruction.
Sun Hou-tzu, the Monkey Fairy, represents human nature, which is prone to all evil. His unreasonable vagaries moved Hsuean Chuang to compel him to wear a Head-splitting Helmet which would contract upon his head in moments of waywardness. The agonizing pressure thus caused would bring him to his senses, irrespective of his distance from his master.
The iron wand of Sun Hou-tzu is said to represent the use that can be made of doctrine. It was useful for all purposes, great or small. By a word it could be made invisible, and by a word it could become long enough to span the distance between Heaven and earth.
Chu Pa-chieh, the Pig Fairy, with his muck-rake, stands for the coarser passions, which are constantly at war with the conscience in their endeavours to cast off all restraint.
Sha Ho-shang, Priest Sha, is a good representation of Mr Faithful in The Pilgrim's Progress. In the Hsi yu chi he stands for the human character, which is naturally weak and which needs constant encouragement.
Legend of Sun Hou-tzu
The deeds of this marvellous creature, the hero of the Hsi yu chi, are to be met with continually in Chinese popular literature, and they are very much alive in the popular mind. In certain parts a regular worship is offered to him, and in many temples representations of or legends concerning him are to be seen or heard.
Other names by which Sun Hou-tzu is referred to are: Sun Hsing-che, Sun Wu-k'ung, Mei Hou-wang, Ch'i-t'ien Ta Sheng, and Pi-ma Wen, the last-mentioned being a title which caused him annoyance by recalling the derisive dignity conferred upon him by Yue Huang.  Throughout the remainder of this chapter Sun Hou-tzu will be shortly referred to as 'Sun.'
Beyond the seas, in the Eastern continent, in the kingdom of Ao-lai, is the mountain Hua-kuo Shan. On the steep sides of this mountain there is a rocky point 36 feet 5 inches high and 24 feet in circumference. At the very top an egg formed, and, fructified by the breath of the wind, gave birth to a stone monkey. The newly-born saluted the four points of the horizon; from his eyes shone golden streaks of lightning, which filled the palace of the North Pole Star with light. This light subsided as soon as he was able to take nourishment.
"To-day," said Yue Huang to himself, "I am going to complete the wonderful diversity of the beings engendered by Heaven and earth. This monkey will skip and gambol to the highest peaks of mountains, jump about in the waters, and, eating the fruit of the trees, will be the companion of the gibbon and the crane. Like the deer he will pass his nights on the mountain slopes, and during the day will be seen leaping on their summits or in their caverns. That will be the finest ornament of all for the mountains!"
The creature's exploits soon caused him to be proclaimed king of the monkeys. He then began to try to find some means of becoming immortal. After travelling for eighteen years by land and sea he met the Immortal P'u-t'i Tsu-shih on the mountain Ling-t'ai-fang-ts'un. During his travels the monkey had gradually acquired human attributes; his face remained always as it had been originally, but dressed in human apparel he began to be civilized. His new master gave him the family name of Sun, and personal name of Wu-k'ung, 'Discoverer of Secrets.' He taught him how to fly through the air, and to change into seventy-two different forms. With one leap he could cover 108,000 li (about 36,000 miles).
A Rod of Iron
Sun, after his return to Hua-kuo Shan, slew the demon Hun-shih Mo-wang, who had been molesting the monkeys during his long absence. Then he organized his subjects into a regular army, 47,000 all told. Thus the peace of the simian kingdom was assured. As for himself, he could not find a weapon to suit him, and went to consult Ao Kuang, the Lung Wang, or Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea, about it. It was from him that he obtained the formidable rod of iron, formerly planted in the ocean-bed by the Great Yue (Yue Wang) to regulate the level of the waters. He pulled it out, and modified it to suit his tastes. The two extremities he bound round with gold bands, and on it engraved the words: 'Gold-bound Wand of my Desires.' This magic weapon could accommodate itself to all his wishes; being able to assume the most incredible proportions or to reduce itself to the form of the finest of needles, which he kept hidden in his ear. He terrorized the Four Kings of the sea, and dressed himself at their expense. The neighbouring kings allied themselves with him. A splendid banquet with copious libations of wine sealed the alliance of friendship with the seven kings; but alas! Sun had partaken so liberally that when he was seeing his guests off, no sooner had he taken a few steps than he fell into a drunken sleep. The undertakers of Yen Wang, the King of the Hells, to whom Lung Wang had accused him as the disturber of his watery kingdom, seized his soul, put chains round its neck, and led it down to the infernal regions. Sun awoke in front of the gate of the kingdom of the dead, broke his fetters, killed his two custodians, and, armed with his magic staff, penetrated into the realm of Yen Wang, where he threatened to carry out general destruction. He called to the ten infernal gods to bring him the Register of the Living and the Dead, tore out with his own hand the page on which were written his name and those of his monkey subjects, and then told the King of the Hells that he was no longer subject to the laws of death. Yen Wang yielded, though with bad grace, and Sun returned triumphant from his expedition beyond the tomb.
Before long Sun's escapades came to the knowledge of Yue Huang. Ao Kuang and Yen Wang each sent deputies to the Master of Heaven, who took note of the double accusation, and sent T'ai-po Chin-hsing to summon before him this disturber of the heavenly peace.
Grand Master of the Heavenly Stables
In order to keep him occupied, Sun was appointed Grand Master of the Heavenly Stables, and was entrusted with the feeding of Yue Huang's horses; his official celestial title being Pi-ma Wen. Later on, learning the object of the creation of this derisory appointment, he overturned the Master's throne, seized his staff, broke down the South Gate of Heaven, and descended on a cloud to Hua-kuo Shan.
Grand Superintendent of the Heavenly Peach-garden
Yue Huang in great indignation organized a siege of Hua-kuo Shan, but the Kings of Heaven and the generals with their celestial armies were repulsed several times. Sun now arrogated to himself the pompous title of Grand Saint, Governor of Heaven. He had this emblazoned on his banners, and threatened Yue Huang that he would carry destruction into his kingdom if he refused to recognize his new dignity. Yue Huang, alarmed at the result of the military operations, agreed to the condition laid down by Sun. The latter was then appointed Grand Superintendent of the Heavenly Peach-garden, the fruit of which conferred immortality, and a new palace was built for him.
Having made minute observations on the secret properties of the peaches, Sun ate of them and was thus assured against death. The time was ripe for him to indulge in his tricks without restraint, and an opportunity soon presented itself. Deeply hurt at not having been invited to the feast of the Peach Festival, P'an-t'ao Hui, given periodically to the Immortals by Wang-mu Niang-niang, the Goddess of the Immortals, he resolved upon revenge. When the preparations for the feast were complete he cast a spell over the servants, causing them to fall into a deep sleep, and then ate up all the most juicy meats and drank the fine wines provided for the heavenly guests. Sun had, however, indulged himself too liberally; with heavy head and bleary eye he missed the road back to his heavenly abode, and came unaware to the gate of Lao Chuen, who was, however, absent from his palace. It was only a matter of a few minutes for Sun to enter and swallow the pills of immortality which Lao Chuen kept in five gourds. Thus Sun, doubly immortal, riding on the mist, again descended to Hua-kuo Shan.
Sun Hou-tzu Captured
These numerous misdeeds aroused the indignation of all the gods and goddesses. Accusations poured in upon Yue Huang, and he ordered the Four Gods of the Heavens and their chief generals to bring Sun to him. The armies laid siege to Hua-kuo Shan, a net was spread in the heavens, fantastic battles took place, but the resistance of the enemy was as strenuous and obstinate as before.
Lao Chuen and Erh-lang, nephew of Yue Huang, then appeared on the scene. Sun's warriors resisted gallantly, but the forces of Heaven were too much for them, and at length they were overcome. At this juncture Sun changed his form, and in spite of the net in the sky managed to find a way out. In vain search was made everywhere, until Li T'ien-wang, by the help of his devil-finding mirror, detected the quarry and informed Erh-lang, who rushed off in pursuit. Lao Chuen hurled his magic ring on to the head of the fugitive, who stumbled and fell. Quick as lightning, the celestial dog, T'ien Kou, who was in Erh-lang's service, threw himself on him, bit him in the calf, and caused him to stumble afresh. This was the end of the fight. Sun, surrounded on all sides, was seized and chained. The battle was won.
Sun escapes from Lao Chuen's Furnace
The celestial armies now raised the siege, and returned to their quarters. But a new and unexpected difficulty arose. Yue Huang condemned the criminal to death, but when they went to carry out the sentence the executioners learned that he was invulnerable; swords, iron, fire, even lightning, could make no impression on his skin. Yue Huang, alarmed, asked Lao Chuen the reason of this. The latter replied that there was nothing surprising about it, seeing that the knave had eaten the peaches of life in the garden of Heaven and the pills of immortality which he had composed. "Hand him over to me," he added. "I will distil him in my furnace of the Eight Trigrams, and extract from his composition the elements which render him immortal."
Yue Huang ordered that the prisoner be handed over, and in the sight of all he was shut up in Lao Chuen's alchemical furnace, which for forty-nine days was heated white-hot. But at an unguarded moment Sun lifted the lid, emerged in a rage, seized his magic staff, and threatened to destroy Heaven and exterminate its inhabitants. Yue Huang, at the end of his resources, summoned Buddha, who came and addressed Sun as follows: "Why do you wish to possess yourself of the Kingdom of the Heavens?"
"Have I not power enough to be the God of Heaven?" was the arrogant reply.
"What qualifications have you?" asked Buddha. "Enumerate them."
"My qualifications are innumerable," replied Sun. "I am invulnerable, I am immortal, I can change myself into seventy-two different forms, I can ride on the clouds of Heaven and pass through the air at will, with one leap I can traverse a hundred and eight thousand li."
"Well," replied Buddha, "have a match with me; I wager that in one leap you cannot even jump out of the palm of my hand. If you succeed I will bestow upon you the sovereignty of Heaven."
Sun rose into space, flew like lightning in the great vastness, and reached the confines of Heaven, opposite the five great red pillars which are the boundaries of the created universe. On one of them he wrote his name, as irrefutable evidence that he could reach this extreme limit; this done, he returned triumphant to demand of Buddha the coveted inheritance.
"But, wretch," said Buddha, "you never went out of my hand!"
"How is that?" rejoined Sun. "I went as far as the pillars of Heaven, and even took the precaution of writing my name on one of them as proof in case of need."
"Look then at the words you have written," said Buddha, lifting a finger on which Sun read with stupefaction his name as he had inscribed it.
Buddha then seized Sun, transported him out of Heaven, and changed his five fingers into the five elements, metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, which instantly formed five high mountains contiguous to each other. The mountains were called Wu Hsing Shan, and Buddha shut Sun up in them.
Conditions of Release
Thus subdued, Sun would not have been able to get out of his stone prison but for the intercession of Kuan Yin P'u-sa, who obtained his release on his solemn promise that he would serve as guide, philosopher, and friend to Hsuean Chuang, the priest who was to undertake the difficult journey of 108,000 li to the Western Heaven. This promise, on the whole, he fulfilled in the service of Hsuean Chuang during the fourteen years of the long journey. Now faithful, now restive and undisciplined, he was always the one to triumph in the end over the eighty-one fantastical tribulations which beset them as they journeyed.
One of the principal of Sun's fellow-servants of the Master was Sha Ho-shang.
He is depicted wearing a necklace of skulls, the heads of the nine Chinese deputies sent in former centuries to find the Buddhist canon, but whom Sha Ho-shang had devoured on the banks of Liu-sha River when they had attempted to cross it.
He is also known by the name of Sha Wu-ching, and was originally Grand Superintendent of the Manufactory of Stores for Yue Huang's palace. During a great banquet given on the Peach Festival to all the gods and Immortals of the Chinese Olympus he let fall a crystal bowl, which was smashed to atoms. Yue Huang caused him to be beaten with eight hundred blows, drove him out of Heaven, and exiled him to earth. He lived on the banks of the Liu-sha Ho, where every seventh day a mysterious sword appeared and wounded him in the neck. Having no other means of subsistence, he used to devour the passers-by.
Sha Ho-shang becomes Baggage-coolie
When Kuan Yin passed through that region on her way to China to find the priest who was predestined to devote himself to the laborious undertaking of the quest of the sacred Buddhist books, Sha Ho-shang threw himself on his knees before her and begged her to put an end to all his woes.
The goddess promised that he should be delivered by the priest, her envoy, provided he would engage himself in the service of the pilgrim. On his promising to do this, and to lead a better life, she herself ordained him priest. In the end it came about that Hsuean Chuang, when passing the Sha Ho, took him into his suite as coolie to carry his baggage. Yue Huang pardoned him in consideration of the service he was rendering to the Buddhist cause.
Chu Pa-chieh is a grotesque, even gross, personage, with all the instincts of animalism. One day, while he was occupying the high office of Overseer-general of the Navigation of the Milky Way, he, during a fit of drunkenness, vilely assaulted the daughter of Yue Huang. The latter had him beaten with two thousand blows from an iron hammer, and exiled to earth to be reincarnated.
During his transition a mistake was made, and entering the womb of a sow he was born half-man, half-pig, with the head and ears of a pig and a human body. He began by killing and eating his mother, and then devoured his little porcine brothers. Then he went to live on the wild mountain Fu-ling Shan, where, armed with an iron rake, he first robbed and then ate the travellers who passed through that region.
Mao Erh-chieh, who lived in the cave Yuen-chan Tung, engaged him as carrier of her personal effects, which she afterward bequeathed to him.
Yielding to the exhortations of the Goddess Kuan Yin, who, at the time of her journey to China, persuaded him to lead a less dissolute life, he was ordained a priest by the goddess herself, who gave him the name of Chu (Pig), and the religious name of Wu-neng, 'Seeker after Strength.' This monster was knocked down by Sun when the latter was passing over the mountain accompanied by Hsuean Chuang, and he declared himself a disciple of the pilgrim priest. He accompanied him throughout the journey, and was also received in the Western Paradise as a reward for his aid to the Buddhist propaganda.
Hsuean Chuang, the Master
The origin of this priest was as follows: In the reign of the Emperor T'ai Tsung of the T'ang dynasty, Ch'en Kuang-jui, a graduate of Hai Chou, in his examination for the doctor's degree came out as chuang yuean, first on the list. Wen Chiao (also named Man-t'ang Chiao), the daughter of the minister Yin K'ai-shan, meeting the young academician, fell in love with him, and married him. Several days after the wedding the Emperor appointed Ch'en Kuang-jui Governor of Chiang Chou (modern Chen-chiang Fu), in Kiangsu. After a short visit to his native town he started to take up his post. His old mother and his wife accompanied him. When they reached Hung Chou his mother fell sick and they were forced to stay for a time at the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers, kept by one Liu Hsiao-erh. Days passed; the sickness did not leave her, and as the time for her son to take over the seals of office was drawing near, he had to proceed without her.
The Released Carp
Before his departure he noticed a fisherman holding in his hand a fine carp; this he bought for a small sum to give to his mother. Suddenly he noticed that the fish had a very extraordinary look, and, changing his mind, he let it go in the waters of the Hung Chiang, afterward telling his mother what he had done. She congratulated him on his action, and assured him that the good deed would not go unrewarded.
The Chuang Yuean Murdered
Ch'en Kuang-jui re-entered his boat with his wife and a servant. They were stopped by the chief waterman, Liu Hung, and his assistant. Struck with the great beauty of Ch'en Kuang-jui's wife, the former planned a crime which he carried out with the help of his assistant. At the dead of night he took the boat to a retired spot, killed Ch'en and his servant, threw their bodies into the river, seized his official documents of title and the woman he coveted, passed himself off as the real chuang yuean, and took possession of the magistracy of Chiang Chou. The widow, who was with child, had two alternatives—silence or death. Meantime she chose the former. Before she gave birth to her child, T'ai-po Chin-hsing, the Spirit of the South Pole Star, appeared to her, and said he had been sent by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, to present her with a son whose fame would fill the Empire. "Above all," he added, "take every precaution lest Liu Hung kill the child, for he will certainly do so if he can." When the child was born the mother, during the absence of Liu Hung, determined to expose it rather than see it slain. Accordingly she wrapped it up carefully in a shirt, and carried it to the bank of the Blue River. She then bit her finger, and with the blood wrote a short note stating the child's origin, and hid it in its breast. Moreover, she bit off the infant's left little toe, as an indelible mark of identity. No sooner had this been done than a gust of wind blew a large plank to the river's edge. The poor mother tied her infant firmly to this plank and abandoned it to the mercy of the waves. The waif was carried to the shore of the isle of Chin Shan, on which stands the famous monastery of Chin-shan Ssu, near Chinkiang. The cries of the infant attracted the attention of an old monk named Chang Lao, who rescued it and gave it the name of Chiang Liu, 'Waif of the River.' He reared it with much care, and treasured the note its mother had written with her blood. The child grew up, and Chang Lao made him a priest, naming him Hsuean Chuang on the day of his taking the vows. When he was eighteen years of age, having one day quarrelled with another priest, who had cursed him and reproached him with having neither father nor mother, he, much hurt, went to his protector Chang Lao. The latter said to him: "The time has come to reveal to you your origin." He then told him all, showed him the note, and made him promise to avenge his assassinated father. To this end he was made a roving priest, went to the official Court, and eventually got into touch with his mother, who was still living with the prefect Liu Hung. The letter placed in his bosom, and the shirt in which he had been wrapped, easily proved the truth of his statements. The mother, happy at having found her son, promised to go and see him at Chin Shan. In order to do this, she pretended to be sick, and told Liu Hung that formerly, when still young, she had taken a vow which she had not yet been able to fulfil. Liu Hung himself helped her to do so by sending a large gift of money to the priests, and allowed her to go with her servants to perform her devotions at Chin-shan Ssu. On this second visit, during which she could speak more freely with her son, she wished to see for herself the wound she had made on his foot. This removed the last shadow of doubt.
Hsuean Chuang finds his Grandmother
She told Hsuean Chuang that he must first of all go to Hung Chou and find his grandmother, formerly left at the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers, and then on to Ch'ang-an to take to her father Yin K'ai-shan a letter, putting him in possession of the chief facts concerning Liu Hung, and praying him to avenge her.
She gave him a stick of incense to take to her mother-in-law. The old lady lived the life of a beggar in a wretched hovel near the city gate, and had become blind from weeping. The priest told her of the tragic death of her son, then touched her eyes with the stick of incense, and her sight was restored. "And I," she exclaimed, "have so often accused my son of ingratitude, believing him to be still alive!" He took her back to the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers and settled the account, then hastened to the palace of Yin K'ai-shan. Having obtained an audience, he showed the minister the letter, and informed him of all that had taken place.
The Murderer Executed
The following day a report was presented to the Emperor, who gave orders for the immediate arrest and execution of the murderer of Ch'en Kuang-jui.
Yin K'ai-shan went with all haste to Chen-chiang, where he arrived during the night, surrounded the official residence, and seized the culprit, whom he sent to the place where he had committed the murder. His heart and liver were torn out and sacrificed to the victim.
The Carp's Gratitude
Now it happened that Ch'en Kuang-jui was not dead after all. The carp released by him was in fact no other than Lung Wang, the God of the River, who had been going through his kingdom in that guise and had been caught in the fisherman's net. On learning that his rescuer had been cast into the river, Lung Wang had saved him, and appointed him an officer of his Court. On that day, when his son, wife, and father-in-law were sacrificing the heart of his assassin to his manes on the river-bank, Lung Wang ordered that he return to earth. His body suddenly appeared on the surface of the water, floated to the bank, revived, and came out full of life and health. The happiness of the family reunited under such unexpected circumstances may well be imagined. Ch'en Kuang-jui returned with his father-in-law to Chen-chiang, where he took up his official post, eighteen years after his nomination to it.
Hsuean Chuang became the Emperor's favourite priest. He was held in great respect at the capital, and had innumerable honours bestowed upon him, and in the end was chosen for the journey to the Western Paradise, where Buddha in person handed him the sacred books of Buddhism.
Pai Ma, the White Horse
When he left the capital, Hsuean Chuang had been presented by the Emperor with a white horse to carry him on his long pilgrimage. One day, when he reached She-p'an Shan, near a torrent, a dragon emerged from the deep river-bed and devoured both the horse and its saddle. Sun tried in vain to find the dragon, and at last had to seek the aid of Kuan Yin.
Now Yue Lung San T'ai-tzu, son of Ao Jun, Dragonking of the Western Sea, having burnt a precious pearl on the roof of his father's palace, was denounced to Yue Huang, who had him beaten with three hundred blows and suspended in the air. He was awaiting death when Kuan Yin passed on her way to China. The unfortunate dragon requested the goddess to have pity on him, whereupon she prevailed upon Yue Huang to spare his life on condition that he served as steed for her pilgrim on the expedition to the Western Paradise. The dragon was handed over to Kuan Yin, who showed him the deep pool in which he was to dwell while awaiting the arrival of the priest. It was this dragon who had devoured Hsuean Chuang's horse, and Kuan Yin now bade him change himself into a horse of the same colour to carry the priest to his destination. He had the honour of bearing on his back the sacred books that Buddha gave to T'ai Tsung's deputy, and the first Buddhist temple built at the capital bore the name of Pai-ma Miao, 'Temple of the White Horse.'
Perils by the Way
It is natural to expect that numberless exciting adventures should befall such an interesting quartette, and indeed the Hsi yu chi, which contains a hundred chapters, is full of them. The pilgrims encountered eighty difficulties on the journey out and one on the journey home. The following examples are characteristic of the rest.
The Grove of Cypress-trees
The travellers were making their way westward through shining waters and over green hills, where they found endless luxuriance of vegetation and flowers of all colours in profusion. But the way was long and lonely, and as darkness came on without any sign of habitation the Priest said: "Where shall we find a resting-place for the night?" The Monkey replied: "My Master, he who has left home and become a priest must dine on the wind and lodge on the water, lie down under the moon and sleep in the forest; everywhere is his home; why then ask where shall we rest?" But Pa-chieh, who was the bearer of the pilgrim's baggage, was not satisfied with this reply, and tried to get his load transferred to the horse, but was silenced when told that the latter's sole duty was to carry the Master.
However, the Monkey gave Pai Ma a blow with his rod, causing him to start forward at a great pace, and in a few minutes from the brow of a hill Hsuean Chuang espied in the distance a grove of cypress-trees, beneath the shade of which was a large enclosure. This seemed a suitable place to pass the night, so they made toward it, and as they approached observed in the enclosure a spacious and luxurious establishment. There being no indications that the place was then inhabited, the Monkey made his way inside.
A Proposal of Marriage
He was met by a lady of charming appearance, who came out of an inner room, and said: "Who is this that ventures to intrude upon a widow's household?" The situation was embarrassing, but the lady proved to be most affable, welcomed them all very heartily, told them how she became a widow and had been left in possession of riches in abundance, and that she had three daughters, Truth, Love, and Pity by name. She then proceeded to make a proposal of marriage, not only on behalf of herself, but of her three daughters as well. They were four men, and here were four women; she had mountain lands for fruit-trees, dry lands for grain, flooded fields for rice—more than five thousand acres of each; horses, oxen, sheep, pigs innumerable; sixty or seventy farmsteads; granaries choked with grain; storehouses full of silks and satins; gold and silver enough to last several lifetimes however extravagantly they lived. Why should the four travellers not finish their journey there, and be happy ever afterward? The temptation was great, especially as the three daughters were ladies of surpassing beauty as well as adepts at needlework and embroidery, well read, and able to sing sweetly.