Episode 199: Are You A Ghost?

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Today we will talk about a story of who is the ghost. The story is from the book ErShiLu 耳食录 from the Qing dynasty 清朝 around the 18th century.

In the book, it says, in the place called YunYang 云阳, there was a forest where it was believed that many ghosts and spirits wondering around and scare people away even during the day time.

One day, a strong young man let’s call him Mr. A walked passed the forest. He was so scared to encounter a ghost. Suddenly, another young man let’s call him Mr. B started to chase after him. Mr. A was so afraid and shouted, “ghosts! Ghosts” as he was running away. However, he was tripped over by grass and almost hurt his feet. Meanwhile, Mr. B caught him and helped him get up. He said, “don’t be scared.” Mr. A didn’t hear what he said and start punching him thinking he was a ghost. Mr. B then shouted, “ghost! Ghosts!” and fought back.

While they were fighting, a man wearing headband came and asked what they were fight for. Mr. A and Mr. B both pointed the other and said, “ghost! Ghost!” The man with headband smiled and said, “you are both tricked. There are no ghosts.” Mr. A and Mr. B explained themselves what happened and apologized. Then Mr. A and Mr. B said, “now we have three people. Let’s be companions and walked together. We won’t be scared this time.”

They didn’t walk very far when they heard the man with headband laughed behind them, “you guys are so magnanimous! You aren’t afraid a ugly man like me. ” Mr. A and Mr. B turned around and saw the man with headband became a giant and half black and half white. Both of them crawled on the ground and yelled again, “ghosts! Ghosts!” Then the ghost disappeared.





耳食录 ErShiLu


Episode 170: How To Get Ghosts’ Money

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In our episode 16, we talk about a story of how to sell a ghost and I just love those stories that ghosts are sometimes tricked by people. Today we will tell another story from the book ShuYiJi 述异记 from the Liang dynasty 南梁 between the year 502 ~ 557.

In the book it says, there was ghost ran into the yard of a person’s house. The ghost was tall and wearing a pair of shorts. It sometimes sang, sometimes tried to talk like people and sometimes threw rocks into the house. The owner was so annoyed by the ghost and shouted, “I am not bothered by any of these. I am only scared if you throw money at me instead of rocks.” The ghost really believed it and started throwing coins into the house. The coins hit the owner’s forehead and he didn’t care and shouted to the ghost, “I didn’t feel anything being hit by those coins. I am only scared of black money (the coins that worth more)” After a while, nobody knows where the ghost found the black money and kept throwing into the house. After a while, the owner got hundreds of bucks.





述异记 ShuYiJi

Episode 166: Ghosts’ Methods

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Some people believe the existence of ghosts and some people are afraid of ghosts. Today we will tell a story about the three tricks of ghosts usually use and maybe after it you won’t be scared away by them.

The story is from the book What The Master Would Not Discuss 子不语, a collection of supernatural stories compiled by Yuan Mei 袁枚 during the Qing dyansty 清朝 published in 1788.

The story says Lord CaiWei 蔡魏公 always told people ghosts only have three tricks : the first is seducing people; the second is blocking people; the third is scaring people. People asked, “what does that mean?”

Lord Caiwei said, “for example, my cousin Mr. Lv 吕. One day he was walking on the street during the night. He saw a beautiful woman with make up walking really fast with a rope in her hands. The woman saw Mr. Lv and hid among the trees along the road.


However her rope left on the road. Mr. Lv picked up the rope and smelt it. It smelt weird and he realized the woman was a ghost who died by hanging herself. ” This is the first trick – confusing people. Mr. Lv put the rope in his pocket and kept walking. The woman walked out of the trees and blocked his way. If he walked to the left, she blocked her on the left and if he walked to the right, she blocked him on the right. This is the second trick – blocking people. Mr Lv didn’t care and walked straightforward.


The woman shouted and transformed to a long hair bloody ghost with her tough hanging out of her mouth and jumped towards him. Mr. Lv smiled and said, “you already did two of your tricks – seducing and blocking me. Now you are just trying to scare me away. I am not afraid you. What else can you do? ”


The ghost transformed back to a woman and knelled down in front of him, “I used to live in the city and after an argument with my husband I hung up. Today I heard a woman is having a conflict her husband and I am on my way to replace her so I can reincarnate. Now you got my rope I can’t reincarnate any more. Please help me sir. ” Mr. Lv asked “how can I help you?” The woman replied, “please read the Buddhism reincarnation script.” Mr. Lv read loudly, “what a beautiful world. No limit. Come and go. Why bother to find a replacement. If you want to go, why not just leave.” The ghost heard and understood something and disappeared.



子不语 What The Master Would Not Discuss

Episode 155: Nie Xiaoqian – part3

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Today we will continue one of most famous stories from the book Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio 聊斋志异from the Qing dynasty 清朝 published in 1740. The name of the story is Nie Xiaoqian 聂小倩, which has been adapted into numerous films and TV series.

Ning Caichen finally came back to his hometown with Xiaoqian’s bones. He buried Xiaoqian’s bones right out side his study room. He said in front of her new grave, “what a poor lonely girl! Now you are next to my study room that we will hear other’s singing and crying. Hope you will never be bothered by monsters.” Just when he was about to return home, he heard something calling his name. “please wait for me. I will come with you.”


Ning Caichen turned around and found Xiaoqian standing there. “I couldn’t possibly pay back for the favor you did for me. Please let me serve you and your parents in the future. I don’t mind being your concubine or maid.” In the original text, it didn’t mention what Ning Caichen was thinking then. But it says Ning Caichen looked at Xiaoqian carefully. This was the first time Ning Caichen actually looked at her. She had pink skin and her feet look like fresh bamboo roots. She looked more breath taking during the day. This was the first time Ning Caichen saw her during the daytime.

Ning Caichen didn’t say anything, he just took her into his study room. As a principled man, he didn’t want to disobey any rules or traditions. He went to see his mother and told everything about Xiaoqian.


His mother was shocked but suggested him not to let his wife know since she had been ill for a long time and this might scare her. At this moment, Xiaoqian came in and keeled down on the floor. Ning Caichen introduced, “this is Xiaoqain.” His mother was too scared to see a ghost and didn’t know what to do. Xiaoqian said, “I am girl has no one to rely on. I have been taken care of by Mr. Ning. I would like to pay my favor if I could be her concubine or maid.” Ning Caichen’s mother looked at her closely and thought she was a nice and beautiful girl, and started to talk. “I am glad you like my son. However, I only have one son and if he married a ghost wife, we have no hope to have pass our name on.” Xiaoqian replied, “I have no second thought. But if you don’t trust me now, I will serve you and Mr. Ning. How about that?” Ning Caichen’s mother was moved and let her stay. Xiaoqian mentioned to visit Ning Caichen’s wife, the mother refused. Xiaoqian went right into the kitchen and start cooking for the family like she had lived there for a long time.

This is not some love story that when their relationship is not approved by the families, they would elope or secretly be together anyway. Because in the end, Ning Caichen was so principled and following all the rules and traditions and Xiaoqian knew that very clearly as well. Now Ning Caichen’s mother’s disapproval is based on Xiaoqian was a ghost and she couldn’t give birth.

At night, Ning Caichen’s mother was still scared of Xiaoqian and didn’t prepare a bed for her. Xiaoqian knew what she thought and left. When she passed Ning Caichen’s study room, she wondered around at the door. Ning Caichen called her to come in. Xiaoqian said, “the atmosphere of sword in your room scares me.” Ning Caichen released it was the old sword bag his friend Mr. Yan gave him before he left the temple. He put it in another room so Xiaoqian could enter his study room.

She asked Ning Caichen to give her Buddhism scripts to read. So they just sit in the room for a whole night reading without talking. It was past midnight, Ning Caichen asked her to leave. Xiaoqian replied, “I am a lonely ghost from far away and I am scared of graves.” Ning Caichen said, “there is only one bed here. This is not good for us. ” Xiaoqian finally stood up and seemed like she was going to cry. She walked out slowly and disappeared.

The next morning, Xiaoqian came back early in the morning to serve Ning Caichen’s mother and help with households. At night, she read with Ning Caichen until bed time and left again.

Days after days, Ning Caichen’s mother appreciated Xiaoqian and almost forgot she was a ghost. She even prepared a bed for her to stay. Xiaoqian never ate or drunk anything when she first was here. After about half a year, she started to eat soup.

Not too long after that, Ning Caichen’s wife passed away. Ning Caichen’s mother liked Xiaoqian very much that she was thinking about let Xiaoqian be her daughter in law but still with the concern that she might not give birth. Xiaoqian said, “children are given by the god. Mr. Ning is destined to have three great sons. ” Ning Caichen’s mother was convinced. Ning Caichen was extremely happy and sent invitations to families and friends. Xiaoqian came out sincerely to meet visitors. No body could tell she was a ghost but thought she was a goddess. Now Xiaoqian was finally be accepted and stand in front of everyone that she was not a ghost any more.


One day, Xiaoqian looked depressed. She asked, “where did you put the old sword bag?” Ning Caichen said, “I put in another room since you are scared of it.” Xiaoqian said, “I have been living with the alive long enough that I am not scared of it anymore. We should put it in our room now.” Ning Caichen asked the reason. Xiaoqian said, “I feel worried these days. I am guessing the monster would find me here.” She put the bag on the door of their room.

The next night, they sat next to candles in the room. Suddenly something fell off like a bird. Xiaoqian hid before curtains. Ning Caishen saw a monster with sharp eyes and bloody tough. The monster stopped at the door and wondered for a while. The monster tried to grab the bag with its claws. “Pa” something clicked in the bag and it became the size of two big baskets. It seemed like something from the bag grabbing the monster into the bag. Then, it became again. The bag shrunk back its normal size. Xiaoqian came out and said, “we are safe now!” They looked into the bag, There was only some water in it.

Until now, Xiaoqian finally cut off her last connection to her past life and became a real alive person.

After a few years, Ning Caichen gave birth to a boy. Ning Caichen got a great position in the government. After a few years, he got another concubine. She and Xiaoqian both gave birth to another boy. The three boys later all became famous scholars.

This is not a legend love story but a story of Ning Caichen and Xiaoqian trying to be a normal couple that can sleep on the same bed at night and have kids.



聊斋志异 Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio

Episode 154: Nie Xiaoqian – part2

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Today we will continue one of most famous stories from the book Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio 聊斋志异 from the Qing dynasty 清朝 published in 1740. The name of the story is Nie Xiaoqian 聂小倩, which has been adapted into numerous films and TV series.

Last time we talked about a man called Ning Caichen stayed in an abandoned temple on his way to Imperial Exam and during the night a young girl walked into his room.


Ning Caichen was shocked and asked her what she was doing here. The girl replied, “I can’t fall asleep and would like to share a bed with you.” What a simple and straightforward excuse. What would you do then with the straightforward request from a beautiful young girl at the middle of the night? Ning Caichen replied seriously, “you should prevent rumors. ” The first thing he said was to tell her not to do something she would regret for her life. “I don’t want to have rumors too. If we aren’t principled, we would dishonor ourselves.” The girl replied, “nobody would know.” Ning Caichen shouted, “go away now! Otherwise, I would call the person living in the room next door.” The girl looked afraid and walked away. As soon as she walked out of door, she walked back and put down some gold. Ning Caichen threw the gold out of the yard and said, “the filthy money would stain my pocket!” The girl was embarrassed and left. She said to herself, “what a man with a heart of stone!”


The next morning, Ning Caichen heard there was a person staying in the east room died. There was a small hole on one of his feet like being stabbed by a drill with traces of blodd around it. Nobody knew what happened. The next day, his assistant died the same way. Ning Caichen asked Yan Chixia, who said it looked like they were killed by some evil spirits.

After a couple days, one night, the girl came back to Ning Caichen’s room again. She said, “I have seen so many people but on one is as upright as you. You have the virtues of a saint and I can’t deceive you anymore. My name is Xiaoqian and my last name is Nie Xiaoqian. I died when I was 18 and was buried near the temple. I have been controlled by some evil monster and sent to seduce people and kill them when they gave into my charms. This is not my intentions. Now there are not many people in the temple, they are coming for you. ” Ning Caishen was scared and asked her to save him. Xiaoqian suggested, “ stay with Mr. Yan and you will be fine.” Ning Caishen asked the reason. Xiaoqian said, “he is something else. I can’t get close to him.” Ning Caishen asked, “how do you seduce and kill people?” “When I make out with them, I would stab their feet with a drill and collect their blood for the monster or trick them with gold which is actually the bone of demons. Once the person takes the gold, it will deprive him hearts and guts.” explained Xiaoqian. Ning Canchen thanked her for the honesty and asked her when he should be prepared for the monster. Xiaoqian replied, “tomorrow night.” Before she left, she started to cry, “I have no one but you. You are such a upright man who saves the ones needed help. If you can collect my bones and buried in a quite cemetery, I will never forget you.” Ning Canchen confirmed the location she wanted to be buried. Xiaoqian said, “under the aspen tree where there is a crow nest. ”


The next day, Ning Canchen was afraid Mr. Yan would leave the temple and invited to him early for dinner and asked him to stay for the night. Mr. Yan said he liked to be alone and quiet. Ning Canchen didn’t care and moved his luggage to his room. Mr. Yan finally agreed and said, “I know you are a real man and admire you. However, please don’t open my box for reasons I can’t tell. Otherwise, bad things would happen to both of us.” Mr. Yan put his luggage near the windows and went to bed. While Mr. Yan was in deep sleep, the poor Ning Caichen had no way to fall asleep. Around midnight, he saw there are shadows outside the window. The shadow moved towards the window and looked inside. Ning Canchen was too frightened to breathe. He was about the wake up Mr. Yan when suddenly a bright object flew out of the box and cut through the stone window frame, shooting towards the shadow. Mr. Yan wake up and checked his box. He took out something and checked and smelt under the moonlight and then wrapped it before putting it back to his box. Ning Caichen heard him talking to himself ,“ how dare that big old monster bread my box.” Ning Caichen was amazed and told Mr. Yan what he saw. Mr. Yan said, “I am a swordsman. If it wasn’t for the stone window frame, the monster would be dead by now. The monster must be hurt pretty bad now.” Ning Caichen asked, “what is in your box?” Mr. Yan said, “a sword. It smells like demon now.”


The next morning, Ning found some blood outside the windows. He walked north and found many tombs around. As Xiaoqian said, he found an aspen tree with a crow nest. He dug out her bones from the grave and planned to take them back home.

On the day he left the temple, Mr. Yan came to see him with an old sword bag to protect him in the future. Ning Caichen expressed his wish to learn to use sword with him, Mr. Yan said, “you are an honest and upright man which would make a great swordsman. But I can tell you will have a peaceful life not a life of mine.”



聊斋志异 Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio