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(MUDAN DENGJ I)
By: Qu You
Translated by J eremy Yang
DURING Yuan Dynasty, when Fang Guozhen occupied Eastern Zhejiang, there was a
certain scholar surnamed Qiao. His wife was just passed away, so he lived alone in the
town next to hill.
On the evening of annual Lantern Festival, after three shifts, peoples at street had been
getting scarce. Suddenly Qiao saw a little maid, carrying a double headed peony lantern,
followed by beautiful woman. Her age about seventeen years old, wearing a red dress with
green sleeves. She passed gently to the West.
As He watched them under the moon, he thought the woman was very beautiful and
attractive. Qiao then decided to follow them. Sometimes he walked in front of them,
sometime behind them. Suddenly the woman smiled and said "I guess we are not
incidentally meet sir, there should be a purpose behind it."
Qiao overjoyed to hear it, he immediately walked to the pretty girl and inviting them to
his house. The woman didn't show any embarrassment nor rejection. They walked hand in
hand into the house. As she very affectionate, Qiao thought she must be the Goddess of
Wushan. (The legendary Goddess from Mount Wushan who sleep with King Huai from
When Qiao asked about her birth name and address, the girl answered "My surname is
Fu, Liqing is my zi (style name) and Shufang is my ming (given name). My father was the
late Fenghua County’s Magistrate. After my parents demise, our family fortune was
decline. Since i don't have brother or sister, thereupon i move to Huxi with my maid,
Upon hearing it, Qiao ask Miss Fu to stay in his house, that night they shared a bed.
When the dawn arisen, Fu Liqing said that she must went away, but she would be back at
evening. Actually she visited Qiao every night.
There was one of old neighbor who suspect Qiao's mysterious guest. One night he
drilled a hole in the wall and peek. But how astonished he was, to see Qiao sat side by side
with a skeleton on bed.
The next morning he confronted Qiao, but the scholar refused to tell the truth. The old
man then admonished him, "Young man, don't you aware that your partner was a wicked
demon from hell. Her intention was mere absorbing your jing (vital essence). Once your
jing is exhausted then it should be your doom!"
Qiao was startled and panicked to hear that. The old man advised him further "She
said she lived in Xiangxi. If you visit it, probably you woukd find some clue"
Qiao obeyed him, he quickly traveled to Xiangxi. He asked every people on the street,
but nobody knew where about the girls. As evening came, Qiao lodged at an old temple
known as Huxin temple. Inside the darkroom, he found a coffin with an inscription
"Fenghua county's Magistrate daughter, Fu Liqing."Near the coffin hung a double headed
peony lamp, and a paper doll with "Jinlian" word inscribed on it.
The scholar was scared until all hair in his body stood on end. He quickly ran out from
the temple and dare not to return. He spent the night in his neighbor's home. The old man
advise him "Master Wei from Xuanmiao Temple is Wang Zhenren disciples, he is the best
exorcist today. You should consult him tomorrow."
The next morning Qiao rushed to the mentioned place. As Master Wei saw Qiao, he
addressed him "Your body is shrouded by evil energy, what happened to you?" Qiao
detailed told his experience. Master Wei smiled on hearing his story, he gave him two
talisman. One must hung on the door, and the other must placed on the bed. In addition,
the Master warned him never go to Huxin temple again. Qiao accepted the talisman and
set it as Master told him. Since that day, Miss Fu and his maid never came again.
A month later, Qiao was seriously intoxicated at his friend banquet. Dead drunk, he
forgot about Master Wei's warning, thus he visited Huxin temple in his way home. In front
of the temple door Jinlian was welcoming him "My lady has been waiting for you for a
The scholar followed her to the dark room, Miss Fu appeared and addressed him "I
love you with all of my heart, but how could you believe in rumors and doubt me? I hate
you, but it's so unfortunate that we meet now." The pretty girls hold Qiao's hand tightly.
She brought him to jump inside the coffin and close it casket, the scholar was died
The old neighbor was worried since Qiao hadn't return for long time. He searched until
he stopped at Huxin temple. In the darkroom, he saw Qiao's skirt exposed from the bier.
The monks from the temple opened the coffin on his request. Inside they found Qiao's
corpse next to young girl's corpse. The woman face was look as if she was still alive. The
monks exclaimed "This woman was Fenghua county monarch's daughter. Her family left
her coffin here, when they went to North. It's been 12 years now and we hadn't hear a
single news from them." The monks then prepared funeral for Qiao.
Since then, every overcast day or the black night, peoples often saw Qiao walking
together hand in hand with Miss Fu, followed by her maid carrying double peony lantern.
The person who accidentally met them would immediately get sick.
Local residents panicked, they paid homage to Master Wei and told the story. The old
master said "My talisman can only repel evil spirit before it take a shape. Now as the evil
spirit have been formed, i think only holy Taoist from Si Mingshan Peak can handle them."
So the crowds climbed the Si Mingshan and found the Taoist hermitage. The priest
was sitting against the table, looking at a boy played with crane.
Everyone bowed in front of the priest and asked for his help. The Taoist priest replied
their request " I am just a mountain hermit who will die sooner or later. I don't know odd
technique. i think you all have searched for wrong person." The crowd then explained
that they came here on advice of Master Wei from Xianmiao Temple. Reassured for their
purpose, the Taoist responded "This lady has been wandering for six years, and the guy
looks interesting. I will take the trouble to meet them."
The priest and his lad walked to the West and built a teen feet altar. He wrote a
character and burned it.
Suddenly a number of Jin Jia Deities appeared before them. They wore yellow turban
in their head, with brocade coat covered their body. They height were 10 feet and held a
spear in their hand. They bowed to the Taoist and asking for his command. The Taoist
said "There are ghosts haunting here, disturbed people. I ask you to expel them
The Jin Jia Dieties accepted his order. Soon they arrested the three demons and
whipped them. The Taoist priest asked them to confess. One Deity gave them brush and
paper to write their confession. As judgment had been completed, Qiao, Fu Liqing and
Jinlianwereescorted to underworld prison by the Deities.
The next day, the crowd went to Si Mingshan Peak to express their gratitude; however
they were not found the priest, only the hermitage remained. They hurried to Xuanmiao
temple to ask for the reason, but as they arrived, they found Master Wei had become
mute, unable to speak.
This story was written by Qu You from Ming Dynasty. Later, it was adapted into
Japanese kaidan (ghost story), Botan Doro (literally means Peony Lantern).
Unfortunately the Japanese version was far more popular than the original Chinese
Digitized by Andrew "The Dark Knight" Eckhart