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A pillow tale

魏景初中,咸陽縣吏王臣家有怪。每夜無故聞拍手相呼。伺無所見。其母夜作,倦,就枕寢息;有頃,復聞竈下有呼聲曰:“文約何以不來?”頭下枕應曰:“我見枕,不能往。汝可來就我飲。”至明,乃飰臿也。即聚燒之,其怪遂絕。

During the Jingchu era [237-239] of the Wei Dynasty [220-266], peculiar things occurred in the house of a town officer called Wang Chen in Xianyang. Every night, sounds of clapping and calling came out of nowhere. [He] scouted [for the sources] and found nothing. His mother got tired after work one night and lay on the pillow to sleep. After a while, [she] heard the calling sound again from the stove, saying, "Why don't you come over, Wenyue [1]?" The pillow under her head said, "Someone is sleeping on me, and I’m stuck here. You can come over and drink with me." The next day, [the thing that had come over] turned out to be a rice scoop. [She] burned them both immediately, and those peculiar [things] never happened again.

*From Gan Bao 干寶 (286-336), Soushenji 搜神記 (Wenyuange yingyin Siku quanshu 文淵閣景印四庫全書 vol. 1042, Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1987), 18.1a: https://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=56667&page=152&remap=gb#%E6%9E%95.

[1] The name Wenyue 文約 may read "written precept" or "a text brief" here, alluding to the popular practice of inscribing maxims or poems on the pillow.


A Cizhou Kiln pillow with an inscription in verse, from the Jin 金 Dynasty (1115-1234)

Image credit: Palace Museum, Beijing


 

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