You are on page 1of 41

A Chinese Demonography of the

Third Century B.C.

Stanford University
HE ancient Chinese conception of the spirit world did not
tend towards making a categorical division of the spirits into
the good and the evil or the gods and the devils. The general senti
ment was, however, that the ghosts of the dead (kuei and the
sundry spirits (shenwho inhabited the terrestrial realm were a
hazard to humankind. Identifying these spirits, determining whether
they were beneficial or harmful, and whether they were to be pro-
This article was written during my tenure as a Mellon Fellow in the Department
of Asian LanguagesStanford University, for whose support I am grateful.
HS Han shu pu- chu photographic reproduction of the 1900
woodblock ed., I-wen Press, Taipei).
HY Harvard-Yenching Index to the Taoist Canon, Too tsang tzu mu yin- te
Peking, 1936). References are to the number of a text
in the Canon as given on pp. 137.
SC Shih chi photographic reproduction of the Palace ed., I-wen Press,
SSCCS Shih- san ching chu shu photographic reproduction of the
1816 woodblock ed., I-wen Press, Taipei).
SW Shm wen chieh tzu chu commentary by Tuan Yu-ts*ai
(photographic reproduction of 1872 woodblock cd., Kuang-wcn shu-chil,
Y MCM Yiin- mmg Skm-ku~ti CkHn mu (Peking: Wcn-wu Press,
pitiated or exorcised, were fundamental elements of demonology
in early Chinese religion.1
Demonology continued to gain prominence in the occult arts of
the Warring States period. Along with the general proliferation of
occult literature in this period, demonographies were compiled to
aid in identifying the shades and to teach the techniques of magical
control. A number of these works were included in the category of
magical and divinatory literature in the first century B.C. catalogue
of the royal Han library. The characteristics of the ancient demono
graphic genre are clear from some of the titles of these lost books
as recorded in the Han shu bibliographic treatise: Portentous and
Propitious Mutant Prodigies (Chen Iisiang pien kuai )twenty- one
scrolls;2 Declarations of Odium for Mutant Prodigies {Pien kuai kao chin
)thirteen scrolls;3 Seizing the Unpropitious and Subjugating
Spectral Entities (Chih pu-hsiang ho kuei wu)eight scrolls.4
1I apply the term demonology to this knowledge of the spirit world that adjoined the
human, and 1 make reference to demons, sprites, spectres, and related terms as a way of
designating the denizens of the spirit world. The nature of these spirits ran along a
spectrum from totally noxious to potentially beneficial, a perception which was reflected
in the various magical methods adopted in dealing with them. There were also ceicstial
deities such as God on High (Shang ti and God of Heaven (Ticn ti who
watched over the spirit and human worlds. Their judgements were not always pleasing to
human society, but they were nonetheless attentive to mortals below and granted bene
faction when warranted. Man could appeal to them for protection from demonic
machinations. For a survey of the conception of the spirit world from Shang to Han as
evidenced in ancient literature and archeological artifacts, see the two articles by Hayashi
Minao chuki ni yurai suru kishin {[ Td/id gakuhO
41 (1970); 1-70; and Kandai kishin no sekai T6hd gakuhd
46 (1974): 223-306.
2HS 30.75a.
3HS 30.75b.
4HS 30.75b. All three titles cited and several additional titles are listed in the Tsa
chan Assorted divination) section of the Shu shu liieh Summary of
computations and arts) in the Han shu bibliographic treatise. A few remarks on terms
used in the book titles are in order. Pien kuai mutant prodigiesappears elsewhere
in Han portent literature to denote the ominous manifestations of the spirit world. HS
76.13b, for example, quotes one of Chang Changs memorials in which Chang
lists calamitous phenomena which manifested themselves during the reign of Thearch
Hsiian (r. 73-49 B.C.), including ominous portents and mutant prodigies. That
such mutant prodigies were the transformations effected by spectres in the world is clear
from a passage in Pao piu Izu { SPPY ed.)Lun hsien 2.6b, In a discourse
on the reality of spirits and ghosts and the efficacy of magic in dealing with them, the text
notes that ghosts and spirits frequently act among men to create shining prodigies
{kuang kuai apparitions of this sort are said to duster around tumuli in Six
Dynasties sources) and mutant marvels {pien i In the Pao p%u tzu, kuang modifies
Documentation of early demon lore is found in the received litera
ture of the pre- Han and Han periods, but until recently there were
no ex tant fragments of ancient demonographies such as those listed
in the bibliographic treatise which might elucidate the form and
content of the genre.6
A demonographic text has now been recovered from a third
century B.C. tomb at Shui- hu- ti Hupei. It forms one section
of a bamboo slip manuscript which contains a variety of material
on astrological, divinatory, and magical arts. The demonographic
scction is entitled Chieh . Although it is brief compared to the
many- scrolled books listed in the Han shu bibliographic treatise,
Chiehprovides us with our first ex ample of the demonography
in Warring States and Chein- Han occult literature. The text
consists of a brief prologue followed by approx imately seventy
separate entries, each one related to a type of demonic harassment
and its remedy. I am currently preparing a transcription and
kuai and pien modifies i. Hence my mutam prodigies for pirn kuai, although mutants
and prodigiesis also a possibility.
The title of the second book refers explicitly to cxorcistic methods, for it concerns the
^declarations of odium (kao chiu ) to be used against mutant prodigies. An in
cantation entitled the Declaration of Odium written by Ts*ao Chih (192-232)
is preserved in / wen lei chii Pelting: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1965), 100.1725.
Ts*aos preface states that in writing it he has borrowed the command of the God of
Heaven to beseech blessings by means of a declaration of odium, and the text of the
incantation seeks divine assistance to quell calamities which have befallen the land.
The device of requesting assistance from certain spirits in order to exorcise others is
well attested in the incantation literature, the classic example of which is the malediction
chanted in the No expulsion (a lengthy discussion of this malediction is in D. Bodde
Festivals in Classical China [Princcton: Princeton University Press, 1975], pp. 85-111).
A number of such exorcistic incantations also occur in the Ma-wang-tui tomb
three (burial dated 168 B.C.) medical rccipe manual, Wu-sfdh-erh ping fang
(Recipes for fifty-two ailments), for which sec my Ph.D. dissertation, The Wu Shih Erh
Ping Fang'. Translation and Prolegomena (University of California, Berkeley, 1982;
University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor), pp. 75-83. In the Han shu bibliographic
treatise the term kao cfdxi most likely means a declaration to helpful spirits to bring their
wrathful vengeance upon demonic miscreants. In the third book tide, the word ho
means literally subjugate by means of cxorcistic instruments and appears frequently
in its original meaning in early sourccs (see n. 53 below).
5 J . J . M. de Groot, The Religious System of China6 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1892-1910),
vol. 5, gives a good survey of Chinese demonology with many citations from pre-Han and
Han sources. Much early demonological material is also brought together in Kiang Chao-
yuan, Le Voyage dans la Chine ancienne (Shanghai: Commission mixte des oeuvres franco-
chinoises, 1937), Fan J en trans. Bodde, Festivals, pp. 85-111, provides a summary review
of some of the early literary sources.
translation of the entire text. In the present article I will focus
primarily on the meaning of the title Chieh and on the
contents of the prologue. My purpose is to place the Shui- hu- ti
demonography in the context of ancient Chinese demon lore, to
show its relationship to fragments of Six Dynasties demonographic
literature, and to establish the characteristics of the ancient demono
graphic genre.
Before focusing on the Shui- hu- ti demonography, however, I
will offer some brief observations on the physical appearance and
contents of the entire manuscript. It is in fact one of two bamboo
manuscripts on occult subjects recovered from the Shui- hu- ti tomb.
Together they restore to us a literature which has long been lost
and are thus invaluable for the study of Warring States occult
belief and practice.
The manuscripts were recovered from T omb Eleven at Shui- hu- ti,
excavated between December 1975 and J anuar y 1976. The burial
has been dated to 217 b .c . The two occult manuscripts were among
a number of other bamboo manuscripts which had been placed
around the corpse inside the cofRn. Most of the manuscripts treat of
judicial and governmental affairs. Transcriptions of these were
published soon after the tomb cxcavation. Photographs and trans
criptions of the occult manuscripts were first published in 1981.7
6The initial reports published in Chinese scholarly journals on the manuscripts found
in tomb eleven at Shui-hu-ti are summarized in D. Harper, The twelve Qin tombs
at Shuihudi, Hubei: new texts and archeological data, Early China 3 (1977): 100-04.
Following the first transcriptions of the judicial and governmental writings which
appeared in Wen-wu two books were published with transcriptions of them: Shui-
hu- ti CA(m mu ckit- chun Peking: Wen-wu Press, 1977); and Shui- hu- ti
Ch*in mu chu<hien (Peking: Wen-wu Press, 1978; this edition includes a translation
into modem Chinese). Among Western scholars who have made critical studies of the
judicial and governmental writings, I would mention: A. F. P. Hulsewe, The Ch'in
documents discovered in Hupei in 1975 TP 64 (1978): 175-217; K. G. D. McLcod
and R. D. S. Yates, Forms of Chin law: an annotated translation of the Feng-chen shih,yi
HJ A S 41.1 (1981): 111-63; and D Bodde, Forensic medicine in pre-imperial China,
J A OS 102 (1982): 1-15. A complete translation by Hulsewe of the judicial and govern
mental writings, tentative title Remnants of ChHn Law (Leiden: Brill), is in press.
7Y MCM is the archeological report on the Chin tombs at Shui-hu-ti. I t includes plates
wilh photographs and transcriptions of all of the bamboo slip manuscripts from tomb
eleven. The plates of the occult manuscripts have been reprinted in J ao Tsung-i
The first manuscript, the one containing the demonography
(hereafter ms A), does not have an overall title. The second manu
script (ms B) bears the title Jih shu13 (Day Book) written on a slip at
the end of the manuscript. Jih is a word which in early usage
denoted hemerological arts and divination. Inasmuch as ms A is
similar in content to ms Bboth manuscripts represent the scope of
subjects which might fall within the arts of day divination in
Warring States and Ch^n- Han times.8
ms A consists of 166 bamboo slips which were originally laced
together.9 It displays some unusual features which provide new
perspectives on early book manufacture. First of all, the text is
written on both sides of the slips rather than on just one side as is
usual in old bamboo manuscripts. After filling the front side, the
text continues on the reverse side, leaving the back side of only six
slips blank at the end of the manuscript.10 This method of writing
the text suggests that calculations were made beforehand to ensure
the surface area of the bound slips was sufficiently broad to contain
the text front and back. T hat such predeterminations were necessary
is confirmed by the layout of the text on the slips. The text is com
posed of a number of separate sections. Like the demonographic
section entitled Chieh most sections are identified by a title which
appears in a raised heading on the slip where the section begins.
Within a section the text is not written in a continuous column down
the entire length of each slip, but rather the surface of the slips is
divided into horizontal registers. The number of registers placed
across the surface of the slips is not uniform through the manuscript,
but varies with each section. To read a section one begins with the
short column of text below the section title on the first slip. On
reaching the space or heavy bar which marks the boundary of the
upper register, one then moves to the left to read the short column
on the upper register of the next slip. Having read the short column
and Tseng Hsien-t^ung Yiin- meng Chlin chien jih shu yen<hiu U
(Ilong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1982).
8See the commentary to the J ih-cht: chuan (Account of the day diviners)
in SC 127. la for discussion of the v/ordjih in the context of divination.
9 YMCMt plates 116-143. The Chinese editors have assigned slip numbers to (he
entire manuscript corpus, including the judiciai and governmental writings. The 166
slips of ms A are numbered 730-895. ms A was found on (he right side of the deceased^
head inside the coffin (Y MCMf p. 21).
10YMCMt plate 143slips 735-730reverse, are blank.
The first manuscript, the one containing the demonography
(hereafter ms A), does not have an overall title. The second manu
script (ms B) bears the title Jih shu13"# (Day Book) written on a slip at
the end of the manuscript. Jih is a word which in early usage
denoted hemerological arts and divination. Inasmuch as ms A is
similar in content to ms Bboth manuscripts represent the scope of
subjects which might fall within the arts of day divination in
Warring States and Ch^n- Han times.8
ms A consists of 166 bamboo slips which were originally laced
together/ It displays some unusual features which provide new
perspectives on early book manufacture. First of all, the text is
written on both sides of the slips rather than on just one side as is
usual in old bamboo manuscripts. After filling the front side, the
text continues on the reverse side, leaving the back side of only six
slips blank at the end of the manuscript.10 This method of writing
the text suggests that calculations were made beforehand to ensure
the surface area of the bound slips was sufficiently broad to contain
the text front and back. T hat such predeterminations were necessary
is confirmed by the layout of the text on the slips. The text is com
posed of a number of separate sections. Like the demonographic
section entitled Chieh most sections are identified by a title which
appears in a raised heading on the slip where the section begins.
Within a section the text is not written in a continuous column down
the entire length of each slip, but rather the surface of the slips is
divided into horizontal registers. The number of registers placed
across the surface of the slips is not uniform through the manuscript,
but varies with each section. To read a section one begins with the
short column of text below the section title on the first slip. On
reaching the space or heavy bar which marks the boundary of the
upper registerone then moves to the left to read the short column
on the upper register of the next slip. Having read the short column
and Tseng Hsien-^ung Yiin- msng ChUrt chien jih shu yen<hiu 4
(Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1982).
8See (he commcnlary to ihc J ih-ch(: chuan Account of the day diviners)
in SC 127. la for discussion of the word jik in the context of divination.
9 YMCMf plates 116-143. The Chinese editors have assigned slip numbers to the
entire manuscript corpus, including the judicial and governmental writings. The 166
slips of ms A are numbered 730-895. ms A was found on the right side of the deceased^
head inside the coffin (YMCMr p. 21).
10YMCMt plate 143slips 735-730, reverse, are blank.
Fig. 2. The first ten slips of Ghieh reproduced from Yun- meng Shui- hu- ti ChHn
mu, plates 131-132 (the Chinese editors have placed their transcription to the
left of each slip of the original manuscript).
on the upper register of the last slip in the section, one must return
again to the first slip and read the next lower register. This proce
dure is repeated until the bottom register is reached. Division into
twothreeor six registers is most common among the sections of
the text (see figure 1). In some instances a very short section is written
down the entire length of several slips without division into reg
Some of the sections include diagrams and tables which are drawn
across the surface of the slips as i f on a smooth sheet.13J udg ing from
the layout of the registers and drawings, we may surmise that the
bound slips do indeed constitute an unbroken surface like a sheet
of silk. It has often been thought that the use of wood or bamboo
slips for writing ancient texts meant that the manuscript consisted
of a roll of bound slipseach slip containing one column of text
written down its entire length. To be sure, this was one method of
writing a text. The significance of ms A is that it shows us another
method for composing bamboo and wood slip manuscripts. Rather
than treating the slips as discrete surfaces loosely bound and rolled,
the slips were formed into a tightly bound mat which could be used
in the same way that one might use a sheet of silk.13
11The demonographic section is divided into three registers, illustrated in figure 2.
Some sections do not have heading titles, but can be easily recognized as distinct sections
from the context. A five slip section (Y MCM, plates 142-143, slips 740-736, reverse)
related to protective magic for a horse (see n. 24 below) is a lengthy example of a section
which is not divided into registers, but rather is written in full columns which extend
down the entire length of cach slip. In addition to the two occult manuscripts, two
other writings in the Shui-hu-ti manuscript corpus arc written using registers: a verse
on the qualities expected of a government official, assigned the title Wei li chih tao
(Y MCM, plates 111-115, slips 679-729); and a chronology, assigned the
title **Pien nicn chi yAfCMplates 50-54, slips 1-53).
12YMCMy plates 125-126, slips 844855, contain a schematic drawing of a house
compound showing twenty-two gate openings around the perimeter, cach of which has
portentous significance. Y MCM plate 128, slips 879-883contain drawings of two human
figures with the twelve Earthly Branches (ti chih arranged in a ring around the head
and limbs. Besides these two examples of drawings, there are three tables in ms A and one
tabic in ms B.
18 Early literary sources state that targets used in archcry, on which were painted
various images, were also made of tightly bound slips. See J . K. Riegel, Early Chinese
Target Magic, Journal of Chinese Religion 10 (1982): 118. Shui- hu- ti Chin mu cku-chim
(1978 cd.), p. 280, indicates that the slips of the manuscript with the verse on the qualities
expected of a government official had been bound together first, and then used as a
writing surface for the verse. A manuscript of bamboo or wood slips was probably regarded
ms B, which consists of 259 slipsis not as well preserved as ms A.
The arrangement into sections with varying numbers of registers is
similar to ms A, although the text is written on only one side of the
slips. The title Jih shuappears on the back side of the last slip of the
text. A single thick bamboo slip which is blank concludes the
Generally speaking, ancient Chinese astrology and divination
were grounded in a system of correspondence which meshed the
manifold phenomena of the world into a single fabric. The Y in
Yang dyad and Five Phase pentad provided the base, while numer-
ological correlations derived from the sexagenary cycle used in
calendrical computations extended the permutations of the system.
The contents of the two Shui- hu- ti manuscripts are devoted primarily
to the astrological and divinatory applications of this symbolic
system of correspondence. Among the astrological subjects discussed
are the method known as chien ch^u establishment and
removal for determining the portentous aspects of days during the
twelve months15 and the portentous consequences of the movements
of sui hsingJ upiter ).18 The Shui- hu- ti manuscripts supplement
as a kind of prc-fabricatcd book-mat in Warring States and Ch*in-Han times, not as
an assemblage of separate slips. Certainly silk would have been the most suitable mate
rial for books with illustrations, diagrams, and charts. In the Han shu bibliographic
treatise documents of this type are usually rolls of silk (chiian rather than rolls of
wood or bamboo slips {pHen ) . However, as demonstrated by the Shui-hu-ti manu
scripts, it was possible (and more economic) to use a bound mat of slips for the same
purpose. The hypothesis advanced by W. A. Ricket, An early Chinese calendar chart:
Kuan- tzu I I I , 8 { Yu- kuan)^ T P 48 (1960): 200, that it would have been impossible to
construct complicated charts on bamboo slips should be revised accordingly.
14 YMCM} plates 144-165, slips 896-1154. ms B had been placed at the deceascd*s
feet (Y MCM, p. 22). Plate 166 provides some fragments of slips with text which all
presumably belong to ms B. The title J ih shu is written on the reverse of slip 1154. Origi
nally (he manuscript must have been rolled up with the beginning of the text at the
ccntcr and the end on the outside of the roll of bound slips. That way, the title written on
the back side of the last slip of text could be read at a glance. Thus, it would have been
ncccssary to completely unroll the manuscript in order to read it. Other Shui-hu-ti
manuscripts were rolled with the beginning of the text on the outside and the end at the
center (the question of how the various manuscripts were rolled is discussed in YMCM,
p. 14). The thick end slip of ms B is numbered 1155.
16Y MCM, plates 117-118, slips 743-754; and plates 146-147, slips 921-941. J ao and
Tseng, Yiin- meng ChHn chienpp. 4-11, analyzes the chien ch^u method as described in
the manuscripts.
16 Y MCMy plate 121, slips 793-796; analyzed in J ao and Tseng, Yiin-meng ChHn chient
pp. 67-99.
what we know of these two forms of astrology from the received
Of great interest arc the many sections of the manuscripts which
inform us of the favorable and unfavorable predictions regarding
nearly every human activitywith the emphasis on identifying the
days when certain actions are ill- omened and prohibited. There
are lists of days during the year when the earth cannot be violated
and construction work is not to be initiated.17 Divination by turtle
and milfoil is not to be performed on a day with a cyclical designa
tion containing the sign tzufor it will bring injury to the Supreme
Augustus (shang huang 4 ) ; and bathing or washing hair is pro-
hibited on a mao day which is designated blood light (hsiieh ming
.18 Lucky and unlucky days for marriage are named and the
court official is also provided with a list of predictions for the success
of his business at court according to the duodenary sign of the day
and the time of day when he has audience.19
The above are just a sample of the observances affecting daily
life. Prohibitions of this type were an integral part of the hemerologi-
cal speculations of the Y in Yang specialists, as witness the assessment
made of the Y in Y ang school in the Han shu bibliographic
Reverently following the progress of High Heaven, tracking the movements of the
sun, moon, asterisms, and chronograms; and reverently giving to the people a
seasonal calendarit is in these things that they are excellent. When this function
is carried out in a crippling way, it becomes snarled in prohibitions and taboos and
mired in specious calculations. I l abandons the business of mankind and takes
service from demons.
In the Lun hengWang Chung (27- ca.lOO a .d .) criticizcd
17Y MCM, plate 124, slips 831-833 (construction taboos); and slips 833-835 (taboos
on digging up the earth). Similar sections occur at other placcs in the manuscripts.
Taboos of this type are mentioned in Lun heng SPPy ed.), Chi jih 24.4a*
18Y MCMt plate 124, slip 830 (divination taboo); and slip 833 (bathing taboo). Lun
heng, Chi jih, 24.3a quotes a Hairwashing Book Mu shu which stales
that washing hair on mac day makes a persons hair turn white.
19Choosing days for marriage is mentioned at many points in the manuscripts. See,
for example, Y MCMt plate 128slip 884; and plate 130slips 895-884, reverse, which
conccrns marriage from the aspect of both the family sending out the daughter and the
grooms family. The section relating to officials is Y MCM, plate 129, slips 886-895.
20HS 30.40a.
those gullible souls who allowed their lives to be programed by the
season and day books {shih jih chih shu .21 It appears
that the Shui- hu- ti manuscripts are third century B.C. exemplars of
precisely the kind of superstitious calendars held in disrepute by
Wang Chung. The similarities between the manuscripts and popular
Chinese almanacs in use today are also striking.22 In spite of the
dour admonitions of critics of popular Chinese culture through the
centuries, the precautionary observance of such calendrical prohibi
tions in the conduct of life has yet to slacken.
In addition to the demonographic section, the manuscripts furnish
rare material on other aspects of magico- religious belief and practice.
Sections on dreams in both manuscripts include the words of incanta
tion used to expel demons who cause nightmares.23 In ms A there
is the text of a lengthy prayer chanted as part of the ritual for
protecting a horse from har m.24 The Pace of Y ii (Yu pu )much
used by Six Dynasties Taoists, and other magical practices associated
with this divine culture hero occur in both manuscripts. The Pace
of Yii is also found in the Ma- wang- tui manual of medical
recipes, Wu~shih~erh ping fang Recipes for fifty- two ail
ments), among the exorcistic methods used to expel demons of In these manuscripts we have the first direct documentation
of the Pace of Y ii in the pre- Han magico- religious tradition; it
corroborates decisively the assimilation into later Taoist religion of
Ltm heng3Chi jih 24.1a.
22 Like the Shui-hu-ti manuscripts, the almanacs published annually in Taiwan and
Hong Kong offer an cclcctic assortment of material meant to guide the individual in the
activities of daily life: astrology, lucky and unlucky days, geomantic conditions, fortune-
telling, charms, etc. How widely the ancient almanac literature was disseminated must
remain an intriguing question. Two groups of manuscripts from tomb three ai Ma-wang-
tui which Chinese scholars have labeled Hsing le and Yin yang wu hsin#
remain unpublished, but also promise to add to our knowledge of ancient
astrology and calendrical superstitions. There is a brief description of the contents of these
writings in Chou Shih-jung LOeh tan Ma-wang-tui ch'u-t*u ti po-shu chu-
chicn Ma- wang- tui i shuyen- ckiu ckuan- k^an
2 (1981): 41^2.
23 Y MCM, plate 131, slips 883-882, reverse; and plates 159-160 slips 1085-1090
(discussed in J ao and Tseng, Yiin- meng ChHn ckieny p. 28). I have in preparation an article
on incantations used to expel dream demons, the two in the Shui-hu-ti manuscripts
being the oldest examples of a type of incantation still in use today.
24 YMCMy plates 142-143, slips 740-736, reverse (discusscd in J ao and Tseng, Yiin-meng
Ck'in chienpp. 4245).
magical practices from the ancient religious core.25Thorough analy
sis of the Shui- hu- ti occult manuscripts will reillumine other
important aspects of early belief and practice which have been
obscured by gaps in the literary remains of the Warr ing States and
Chin- Han periods. We shall come to know much more about the
society and culture of this period thanks to these long- buried
treasures. I trust that my introduction of the demonography will
prove to be an auspicious contribution to this scholarly under
The demonography is found on ms A on the reverse side of slips
872- 828 (following the slip numbers assigned to the Shui- hu- ti
manuscript corpus by the Chinese editors). It is written in three
registers across the forty- five slips which it occupies.27 The title
25For the magical practiccs associated with Y ii in the Shui-hu-ti manuscripts, see J ao
and Tseng, Yiin-meng Ch(in chienpp. 20-23. For the Pace of Yu in the Wu-shih-erh ping
fang, see Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang, pp. 98-101. With characteristic insight,
M. Granet, Remarques sur le Taoisme ancien, A M 2 (1925): 146-51, already deduced
the ancient origin of the Pace of Y ii from references to Yii,s lameness in Warring States
speculative literature; and Granet was the first scholar to recognize ihe importance of
prior magico-religious traditions in the formation of the Taoist sects which emerged in
the second century a.d.
26As of this writing (J anuary, 1985), J ao and Tseng, Yiin-meng Cklin chienis the only
published study of the Shui-hu-ti occult manuscripts of which I am aware, although a
number of scholars arc at work on the manuscripts. The Workshop on Divination and
Portent Interpretation in Ancicnt China (organized by Professor J effrey K. Riegel and
held at the University of California, Berkeley, in J une, 1983) included a panel on the
Shui-hu-ti occult manuscripts with papers by J ao Tsung-i, Li Hsueh-ch*in, Michacl
Loewe, and Robin D. S. Yates. Marc Kalinowski has written a study of the occult
manuscripts, Les traitcs dc Shuihudi ct Fh^m^rologic chinoise a la fin des Royaumes-
Combattants** (typescript dated J une, 1984), which wili appear in T^oung Pao,
An important question which I do not address in this article, but which I would like
to at least mention, is the significance of placing manuscripts in ancicnt Chinese tombs
along with other burial goods. The manuscripts from Shui-hu-ti and Ma-wang-tui are
clearly writings which circulated among the literate elite of the period, and they may be
treated as exemplars of books used in life. Thus, the manuscripts were not a special
category of tomb literature. Rather, there was something magical and spiritual about
books which made them appropriate items to be included among the burial goods. Cf.
Hulsewe, Texts in tombs, Asiatische Studien 18/19 (1965): 78-89, whose observations on
this subject were made before the discoveries of manuscripts in ancicnt tombs in the
Chieh appears in a raised heading at the top of slip 872
followed by the prologue which begins immediately beneath it on
the slip. After the prologue come the recipe- like entries dealing
with demons and their noxious manifestations (see figure 2).
The meaning of the title is not immediately apparent, for the word
chieh is not one of the usual terms in the received literature used
to denote demonological arts or exorcistic practices. The Shuo wen
chieh tzu glosses the word simply as wen question,
interrogate).2S Philological analysis, however, reveals that the
etymon belongs to the religious lexicon of Shang and Chou times
and that chieh belongs to a word family redolent with magical
associations. Once explicated, the meaning of the word chiehcan be
seen to signify the precise intent of the Shui- hu- ti demonography.
As evidenced by the Shuo wen chieh tzugloss, in Han times chieh
regularly referred to the act of interrogation or of subjection to
critical scrutiny. Compounds such as chieh tse and chieh wen
referred specifically to the investigation of criminal accusations.29
The most precise indication of the legal definition of chiehwhich we
have comes from the Shui- hu- ti manuscripts, in a Ch(in judicial
case book. The relevant passage occurs at the beginning of a section
concerning the investigation of criminal charges:30
Whenever investigating criminal charges one must first listen to their words in their
entirety and record them. Each person presents his statement. Even though one
knows that they are lying, there is no need to automatically make accusations
*7 YMCMplates 131-135. The third register on the last nine slips is occupied by a
text unrelated to the demonographic section.
28SW 3A.29a.
29HS 86.15a relates that Wang Chia was interrogated (chieh wen) for over twenty
days without being allowed foodand finally died coughing blood. HS 51.8b describes
the inquiry which resulted from a memorial submitted to the throne by Chia Shan
in which he made several strong accusations. The memorial was sent to a board of officials
for critical scrutiny (chieh tse)y and Chia Shan was called upon to justify the claims made
in the memorial. He managed to vindicate himself. The fact that the inquiry focused on
Chia Shans memorial and on his justification of statements made in it is signiBeant in
light of the meaning of chieh discussed below.
30The case book is entitled Feng chcn shih and the section is Hsiin yii
(Investigating criminal chargcs). For the annotated text, see Shui- hu- ti Ch^in mu
chu-ckien (1978 ed.), pp. 246-247. My translation of the passage differs from that of
McLeod and Yates, Forms of Chin law, pp. 131-32, who do not analyze the meaning
and legal significance of the word chiek.
(chieh). I f after their statements have been entirely recorded there are things which
have not been explained, then accusc them with the accusations (? chieh- che chieh
chih }Having accused them, again listen to and record their explana
tory statements in their entirety. Again see i f there are any other things for which
they have no explanation and accuse them oncc more. I f the accusation of them is
pursued to the utmost and they repeatedly lie, altering their words and not submit
ting, then in cases where the statute stipulates flogginggo ahead and flog them.
In this ex ample of Gh(in legal parlance, chieh(which I have rendered
as accusation or accuse refers to the interrogation of the parties
concerned in order to expose the lies in their statements and cxtract
the true facts. Crucial to the conduct of the interrogation is the
recording of the statements. Even the most obvious lies are left un
challenged while the statement is being presented. Only after the
statement has been recorded is the person subjected to accusations
based on an ex amination of the written record. This punctilious
attitude towards due process of law is not the innovation of Chin
organizational policy. It can be traced to the role of written state
ments as concrete testimony to spiritual obligations in Shang and
Chou religion.
This aspect of early Chinese religion has been exhaustively studied
by the J apanese sinologist Shirakawa Shizuka . Shirakawa
argues that in a number of Shang graphs a box- like graphic element
which many epigraphers have interpreted as signifying a mouth
actually represents a ritual vessel used to hold written statements
presented to the spirits. According to Shirakawas interpretation,
these Shang graphs have a fundamental connotation of written
rather than oral communication with the spirits.31 Shirakawa
proposes formal criteria for distinguishing between the graphic
element for the ritual vessel and the one for the mouth. Unfortu-
nately, the absolute distinction that Shirakawa would make between
them is not borne out by an ex amination of all of the graphs
involved.32 T hat his analysis of the script is not entirely satisfactory
31 Shirakawas thesis is presented in two articles, both found in his Kdkotsu kimbungaku
ronsku (Kyoto: Hoyu shoten, 1974): Shaku shi pp. 1-68; and
t(Sai-sho kanfcd jisetsu pp. 307-64.
82 Shirakawa, Kdkotsup. 7, argues thai the graphic element representing the vessel is
regularly a broad dish-shape ^ (older forms of which have a bulge at the base y )
while the graphic element for the mouth is smaller in size ^ . The arbitrariness of
Sliirakawas distinction is immediately apparent when one looks at the relevant Shang
however by no means invalidates Shirakawas brilliant insight
concerning the religious motif of the vessel in Shang spirit communi
cation and its graphic manifestation in the Shang script. While
we cannot know for certain the principles of graph formation which
the Shang followed, it is clear that not every box- like figure in the
Shang graphs can be a representation of a mouth. Rather than assign
it the semantic root mouth, I would suggest the more fundamental
sense of hollow cavity, container for this graphic element, which
in actual practice might have been written in a variety of slightly
different forms. The physiological organ is then just one of the
applications of this graphic element in the composition of Shang
Since Shirakawas script distinctions are not an infallible guide
to the graphs which connote the religious motif of written statements
placed in vessels, we must examine each case individually. I believe
that by and large the series of graphs Shirakawa has isolated are
what he says they arethat the box- like element in them repre
sents a ritual vessel used to hold some kind of writ.34 It is in this
graphs. Shima Kunio Inkyo bokuji sdrui (Tokyo; Kyuko sho-in,
1971), p. 117, provides many examples where the large box-like graph tl?clearly means
mouthand it is used in the composition of other graphs where it also represents the
mouth (for example p. 301,t2S)>one of the forms of the word for tooth, chlih ) . I am
indebted to Professor David N. Keightlcy for bringing to my attention this flaw in
Shirakawas analysis, and to Professor David. S. Nivison for showing me additional
examples which call into question Shirakawas graphic distinctions.
33As pointed out to me by Professor Nivison, Shang graphs which include a representa
tion of the ox scapula in their graphic composition sometimes show the cavity at the top
of the bone using this graphic element. See Shima, Inkyo, p. 303 one of the Shang
forms of pu . While profiting from the critical observations of Professors Keightlcy and
Nivison, the speculation on the versatility of the box-like graphic dement in the Shang
script represents my own interpretation of the data.
34Two notable examples are (shih and (kao ) . Shirakawa, Kdkoisupp.
1-68, demonstrates that the first graph shows a hand holding a rod which is attached to
a vessel; and that the second graph shows a vessel suspended from a branch. In both cases
the graphs represent words for spirit communication which involve the ritual presentation
of documents in vessels for divine inspection. I am not so convinced by Shirakawas
evidence for placing*0 (chu among the graphs which signify written spirit communica
tion. The graph shows a human figure surmounted by the box-like clement which is
quite likely the mouth from which the incantation emerges (Shirakawa argues that it
must be a human figure holding up a document vessel). Nonetheless, Shirakawa has
broken new ground in Shang philology with his research on the vessel graphic element in
the script, and we may expect further refinements of Shirakawas thesis to follow from
his initial discoveries.
series that Shirakawa places chi (*kiet),36conventionally translated
as auspicious, which is the root of our chieh (*k(iet). Shirakawa
analyzes the Shang graph for chi as representing a vessel with
a knobbed lid on top and speculates that originally the word signified
the spiritual benefaction which resulted from the offering of written
prayers in sealed vessels. Whether or not his speculation truly
accounts for the meaning of chi in Shang inscriptions, there is no
doubt that the word reflects in its graphic composition the motif
of the sealed vessel in spirit communication. The graph for chiehis
simply an expanded form of the same word.36
In Chou literature chieh means literally to obligate oneself to
the spirits by means of a written document and thus to subject
to spiritual scrutiny.37 Perhaps the most famous instance of a dec
laration sealed in a casket in order to supplicate the spirits is recorded
in the Chin teng Metal bands) chapter of the Shang shu
In order to relieve King Wu of his affliction, the Seigneur of
Chou wrote a secret prayer pledging his life in exchange for
the kings and sealed it in a casket bound with metal bands.38During
the Chou it was believed that spiritual surveillance gave binding
force to oaths and contractual agreements; writs sealed in vessels
and inscribed vessels were the material means of effectuating this
divine witness.39The same belief accounts for the stipulation in Chin
judicial proceedings that accusations are to be made on the basis of
recorded testimony, not merely on the basis of oral statements.
The written word provided material evidence to expose errors in
the speakers statements and bound the speaker to give a true
account, or else be punished.
Several other words which contain chi in their graphic composi
tion are derived from the same etymon and provide further insight
85The phonctic reconstructions used are the archaic Chinese reconstructions in B.
Karlgrcn, Grammata Serica Recetisa (Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1957).
86Shirakawa, Kdkoisu pp. 328-329.
*7Ibid., pp. 328-29, citing passages from the Shang shu and Chou li .
Shang shu {SSCCS ed.), Chin teng 13.6a.
89See the masterful summation of the magico-religious significance of writing and of
documents (including inscribed vessels) in Chou and Ch*in-Han times in J . Gernet,
ficrit el histoire en Chine, Journal (U psychologic normale el palhologique 56 (1959): 31-40.
Gernet, La vcntc cn Chine d^pres les contrats de Touen-houang (IX e-Xe siddes),
TP 45 (1957): 295-391, specifically studies the role of spiritual surveillance in swearing
oaths and making contracts.
into the nature of binding in Chou and Chcin- Han belief. Most
prominent among these cognates is chieh *kiet)defined in the
Shuo wen chieh tzuas a knot which cannot be untied.40 A frequent
term for religious and contractual obligations in pre- Han litera
ture,41 the knot has a magical efficacy like that of the document
vessel. This conceptual parallel is evident in the tradition preserved
in early sources that the kings of remotest antiquity knotted cords
to enforce their rule, a custom which was later replaced by written
documents.42 Like written documents, the knots symbolized specific
obligations witnessed by the spirits.
The word for the topknot of hair is commonly written with the
graph in Han literature, although chi (*kied) is attested in
early literature. Written with the latter graph, the word topknot
occurs in the Chuang tzuwhere it is identified as the spirit name
of the stove deity.43 In the cult of the stove the deity presided over
the obligations to be observed by members of the household, a
function which was iconographically represented in T opknots
divine hair do/4 The Shuo wen chieh tzu lists specialized words for
40SW 13A.8b. TV is the word used to gloss and SW 13A.9a defines ti as a knot
which cannot be untied. SW 13A.22b defines niu as a knot which can be untied,
making an intentional contrast between ti!chieh and niu.
41See, for example, Kuan tzu ed.), Shu yen 4.10b, where chieh niu
is paired with another important term for contractual obligations, yiieh shu .
The dclinitivc study of the ancient concept of contractual bonds (with special reference to
military organizations) is in Masubuchi Tatsuo ?, Chugoku kodai no shakai to
kokka O i Tokyo: KObun d6 1960), pp. 147-86.
42This tradition is recorded in / ching SS<X1S ed.)>Hsi tzu 8.8a; and
again in the postface to the Shuo wen chieh tzuSW, where Hsii Shen relates
that knotting was used to govern down through tlie era of Shen nung (Divine
Agrarian) and that it was Tsang Chieh who invented (he script by observing the
tracks of birds and beasts during the era of Huang ti (Yellow God). In Chuang tzu
SPPred.)Chii chich 4.12band Lao tzu { SPPYWang PJ ed.)
paragraph 80government by knotting is represented as a characteristic of the utopian
age of simplicity prior to the advent of the fulsome artifice of later times. Perhaps these
early references to knotting preserve the memory of an antique form of communication
by means of knotted cords (such as was used in other ancient civilizations), but the binding
magic implied in the use of knots clearly had its origins in magico-religious belief.
43Chuang tzu, Ta sheng 7.5a. is regularly used to write the word for
topknot in the Shuo wen chieh tzu and other Han writings.
44See E. H. Schafer, The stove god and the alchcmistsin L. G. Thompson ed.,
Studia Asiatica: Essays in Felicitation of the Seventy- jifih Anniversary of Professor Ch^en Shou-yt
(San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, J 975), pp. 261-66for discussion of the stove
deity in early times (and the likely feminine identity of the deity Topknot).
topknot stylesmost of which appear to have ritual significance.46
Disheveled hair was a demonic trait and thus great importance
was attached to the binding of the hair. The nature of hair itself,
the perceived contrast between unbound and knotted hair, and the
elaboration of topknot styles within the context of religious custom
all suggest that hair fashion involved notions of binding magic
which were related to knotted cords and sealed document vessels.46
The magically prophylactic aspect of the topknot in hair fashion
is well illustrated by a Han warrior hairstyle known as the teratoid
topknot (tcui chi ) . Tui is identified in the Erhya as the name
of a creature which resembles a small bear; the Shuo wen chieh tzu
preserves several cognates of t^ui which signify a repugnant face or
protruding brow. J udg ing from these cognates and from the com
position of the grapht^ui no doubt designated a type of fantastic
monster, hence my teratoid to describe the topknot.47 The Shih
45 SW 9A.25a-28b includes the following words for topknot styles: pan topknot
for sleeping /m f'f topknot ; chieh topknot with hairpinschua mourning
topknot. Hayashi Minao, Kandai no bumbutsu <DKyoto: Kyoto daigaku jimbun
kagaku kcnkyiisho, 1976), pp. 73-76, provides a valuable discussion of the topknot in
Han times based on literary and archcological cvidencc.
*6 Han fei tzu ed.), Nei chu shuo hsia 10.3a-brecounts
how a knight pretended to be a ghost by stripping naked and unbinding his hair in order
to elude a cuckolded husband. In Han and pre-Han literature the term pH f a denotes
ihe long, loose hair which is characteristic both of dcmonic apparitions and of people
who arc wild or possessed. For example, a ghoul who appeared in a dream to the ruler
of Chin had loose hair {plif a ) which reached to the ground** (Tso ckrnn [SSCCS
ed.], Ch*eng 10, 26.29a). The unbinding of the topknot could constitute a significant
ritual act. In the passages on expelling dream demons from the Shui-hu-ti occult manu
scripts cited in n. 23 above, the person is instructed to unbind the hair and then chant
the spell. Similarly, the act of first binding (he topknot is a sign of entering adulthood
comparable to the capping ccrcmony (see SC J 09.7a and 112.11b, and HS 54.7b, for
use of the term chieh J a to denote the age of coming to manhood).
47 Erh ya (SSCCS ed.) Shih shou , 10.15afurther describes the as being
yellow with sparse fur. But it was the crcatures head which was its trademark in the
lcxicon of physiognomy. In SC 79.15a, a physiognomist uses the term ^ui yen to
describe the peculiar protruding shape of Tsai Tses forehead. The same usage is
given in SW 9A.4b under the cognate ch(ui glossed as a protruding brow. Hui
glossed in SW 8A.36b as a repugnant face, is yet another cognate which refers to tlic
appcarance of the bead. Present editions of the Shuo wen chieh tzu list t*ui (5H7 4A.30b),
but it was added to the text at a latter date (see Tuan Yii-tsai,s commentary). Probably
the physiognomic senses of the word were represented by ck*ui and kuiand Hsii Shen left
out the graph which represented the word for the crcaturc itself.
I l is Fu Chien (second century) who identifies the teratoid topknot as a warrior
hairstyle in the commentary to the occurrence of t*ui chi in HS 43.5b. Fu Ch*ien knows
chi reports that when Chao T o the self- appointed King
of Southern Yiieh IE, held audience with the Han envoy sent
to offer him the official seal of Han acknowledging his title, Chao
T o greeted the envoy while wearing the teratoid topknot and
sitting like a winnowing basket. Both the hairstyle and the sitting
posture were indications of Chao T V s aversion for the representative
of the Han court.48 In the Shih chi and Han shuthe teratoid topknot
is identified as a characteristic hairstyle of barbaric peoples to the
south and north. The distribution of the teratoid topknot in a ring
around the Han borderlands in Han historical writing should not
be taken as a sign that the hairstyle was of foreign or igin: its associa
tion with barbaric customs probably developed as a cultural
stereotype in the Han mind.49 In the Han shu the word chui
( hammer ) sometimes appears in place of t(ui . Yen Shih- ku
(581- 645) accordingly suggests that the topknot was shaped like
a hammer.50 Perhaps the bulges of the /wis monstrous visage indeed
conformed to the shape of a hammer (and it might then be aptly
called the hammer- head), which led to the use of ch'ui in place of
t^ui in the Han shu when referring to the teratoid topknot. This
later graph substitution notwithstanding, the original referent in
the name of the topknot was the creature with the protruding brow.
of the topknot as ch'ui chi hammer topknot)which appears to have been the
more common name by Later Han times (see n. 50 below).
48The Han envoy was Lu Chia and the event, which took place in 196 B . C . , is
described in his biography in SC 97.5b-6a (and again in HS 43.5b). The significance of
sitting like a winnowing basket and the nature of the aversion expressed by hairstyle
and posture are discussed below, pp. 483-90.
49Besides the rcfcrcncc to the teratoid topknot in connection with Chao T 4o and
Southern Yiieh, the Shik chi and Han shu identify it as part of the dress custom of the
Southwest I people (SC 116.1b, HS 95. la); of the northeastern inhabitants of Chao-
hsicn 5C 115.1b, HS 95.18b) and of the Hsiung-nii { HS 54.15b). The stereo
typical association of the teratoid topknot with barbaric custom~when in fact the
topknot was a fundamentally Chinese customis evident in Lun heng, Shuai hsing
, 2.15a, where Wang Ch*ung states that Chao T os topknot and winnowing basket
posture were signs that he had adopted the customs of the southern barbarians and
rcjcctcd the civilizing refinements of Han culture. According to Wang Ch*ung, Chao T o
subsequently pledged allcgiancc to the Han court and then regarded the teratoid topknot
and winnowing basket posture with revulsion. It was the magico-religious significance
of such manners in indigenous Chinese custom, especially in giving expression to profanity,
which placed them outside of proper etiquette; the result being their attribution
to barbarians. This point is developed further on pp. 488-90 below.
60See Yen Shih-kus commentary on the occurrcnce of t(ui chi in HS 43.5b. The name
of the topknot is written ch*ui chi in HS 54.15b95.1a, and 95.18b.
The hairstyle was surely intended to be apotropaic, serving to protect
the wearer from harm and perhaps to strike fear in the heart of an
opponent as well.51
A n exorcistic aspect of the chi word family is suggested in
another likely cognate, chieh (*ke3.t), which the Shuo wen chieh tzu
glosses as take precaution. 52Although not attested in an explicitly
exorcistic context in the received literature, its graphic composition
should be compared to hoa word which connotes the subjugation
of demonic forces by means of exorcistic weapons. Like chi the
root hai can be traced to the Shang religious lexicon. Its derivates
consist not only of words for exorcistic beating, but also include
kai which in the Shuo wen chieh tzu is glossed as the contract
made within the army. 53 In the two word families it appears that
the magical efficacy of language is comparable to that of other instru
ments; further, that the act of magical binding implicit in both word
families may apply to the summoning of spirit witnesses and to the
exorcism of spectral evils.64
By the time of the Shui- hu- ti manuscripts, chieh on the one
hand designated the use of written testimony as incontrovertible
evidence for testing the veracity of a witness in judicial proceedings,
and on the other hand was still applied to older practices in which
M A. E. DienA study of early Chinese armor, Artibus Asiae 43 (1981 /82): 18relates
the ch^ui chi hairstyle to the headdress of guardian figures in military dress found in Six
Dynasties lombs. Their function in the burial is of course apotropaic. It is likely that the
leratoid topknot is represented among the pottery figures recently cxcavaled from the
pits flanking the burial mound of Chin shih huang-li east of Sian .
The use of the name of the tlui monster in an apotropaic context is also suggested in
several personal names recorded in the Tso chuan: Ch*ing Fu-^ui (Tso chuan
Cheng 1728.25b); and Hsiang T ui a.k.a. Huan T ui Tso chuan, Ting
10, 56.7a). They arc probably intended (o be protective names.
53SW 3A.3lb. On hai and related words, see Shirakawa Shizuka Kanji no sekai
tD 2 vols. (TokyoHcibonsiia, 1976)1: 241-43. The signifies and appear
regularly in graphs for words related to magical cocrcion and specifically indicate the
instruments used to coerce the spirits. Shirakawa notes that ho is cognate with hai ,
a graph which in Han times was restricted to a binom hai- ssu (which designated a
kind of talismanic stafT used for cxorcistic beating). Ssu alone is used as a verb meaning
beat exorcisdcally in the Wu-shih-erh ping fang (see Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping
Fang pp. 364-65, for details).
&4The fact that the same magical dcvices are ofien used both to aitraci and to repel
the spirits is characteristic of Chinese belief and practice. Sec HarperThe Wu Shih
Erh Ping Fang^1pp. 76-79, for discussion of this aspcct of certain incantatory utterances.
oaths and spells had the power to magically obligate men and
demons. This form of spdibinding (the English word I would
choose to translate chiek) must then have also been applied generally
to the art of exorcism, hence its appearance in the title of the
Shui- hu- ti demonography.55
Guides to the mysterious and often terrifying spirit landscape of
the old Chinese world have a long tradition in legend. The Tso
chuan preserves the tale that the water- tamer Y ii had caldrons
cast which were emblazoned with images of the spirit creatures of
the terrestrial realm. The caldrons were intended to reveal the
identity of the spirits so that humankind might not suffer their foul
play.66 Similarly, the Shan hai ching enumerated the habitats
arid marvelous inhabitants of the earth. It was a talismanic book
which forearmed its possessor in undertaking a spirit quest.57
The prologue to the Shui- hu- ti demonography ex plicitly places the
text in the tradition of works which help to free a person from the
machinations of ill- willed spirit powers. Thus the prologue serves
to associate the purpose of the text as a whole with the function of
Y iis magical caldrons. As we shall see, this tradition was perpetuated
in the Six Dynasties demonographic genre as well.
The prologue deserves close scrutiny:58
55The relation of writing and spells to exorcism is made clear in Huai nan tzu
{ SPPY ed.), Pen ching* 8.4b, where it is said that when Ts'ang Chieh invented
writing, the demons wailed at night. The commentary explains that the demons wailed
because they feared being subjugated {ho by the written documents. I t is worth
noting that the word exorcise has a similar etymologythe use of oaths and impreca
tions to expel evil spirits.
Tso chuan Hsiian 321 15b-16b. The story of the caldrons forms pari of an admoni
tion made to the covetously inquisitive ruler of Ch*u :
In the past when the Hsia first possessed the Divine Virtue, the distant quarters made
diagrams of the spirit creaturcs, contributed metal to the Nine Herdsmen, and cast
caldrons to rcplicatc the spirit crcaturcs. Due to this the hundred spirit creaturcs were
fully revealed, enabling the people to rccognize the machinations of spirits. Thus the
people entered streams, marshes, mountains, and forests, and did not encounter the
unseemly. None of the Chih-mei and Wang-liang were able to waylay them.
The Ch'ih-mei and Wang-liang typify the noxious spirit forccs lying in wait for human
r,? The Shan hai eking has been traditionally regarded as a textual counterpart to the
caldrons. See J . Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 7 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1954-), 3: 503.
68See figure 3 for the transcription of the prologue. J ao and Tseng, Yun-meng Ch*in
slip 872, reverse, first register:
slip 871reverse, first register:
slip 870reverse, first register:
Fig. 3. Transcription of the prologue.
Note: usignific omitted means that the root form of the graph is used alone in the text
without the addition of the signific element which specifics the appropriate word; scribal
variant means that the graph in the text is an expanded form of the root graph, but
is not attested in the received literature as specifying the appropriate word.
a = signific omitlcd)
b = (signific omitted)
e S = scribal variant)
1. Spellbinding to inflict odium on demons.
2. The Wang- hang who injure people treat the people unpropi
3. Let the way for how to spellbind them be declared, to enable
the people to not encounter the baleful and calamitous.80
4. What demons detest are namely reclining in a crouch, sitting
chienpp. 26-27, briefly discusscs the demonographic section and offers a partial trans
cription of the prologue using modern punctuation which is not entirely accuratc.
89 In the original text the two phrases of my line 2 are each four graphs in length
with rhyming between hang *gang) and hsiang (*dziang).
60 The original text of the first half of my line 3 crosscs from the bottom of the first
register on slip 872, reverse, to the top of the first register on slip 871, reverse. At the
bottom of the first register on slip 872, reverse, is a sign (which does not appear to
be a graph, but rather some kind of manuscript marker. The same sign occurs at the
bottom of the second register on slip 872, reverse, but occurs nowhere else in the Shui-hu-ti
manuscripts. That it must be some kind of marker and not a graph (J ao and Tseng, YUn-
mng Ck*in ckieny p. 26, render it as chao ) is dear from the fact that in both occurrcnccs
it cannot be read as part of the text. The text in the second register is a single sentence
which concludes before the sign ; and in the first registerthe only plausible reading of
the text is to pass from the graph chih directly over to tao at the top of the first
register on slip 871, reverse. Slip 872, reverse, is the first slip of the demonographic
section. Unlike the calendrical enumerations and brief lists found in other sections of the
like a winnowing basket, interlinked motion, and the leaning
The iirst line announces the demonological subject. Chiuwhich
I have translated as inflict odium means literally to commit
a f ault which incurs spiritual odium.61 The word is also used transi
tively to mean direct spiritual odium towards someone and in
this sense is part of the early lexicon of exorcism.62
The name Wang- hang in the second line is not recorded in
the received literature. However it is clearly related to the set of
binomial demon names Wang- liang Wang- hsiang and
Fang- liang . While early sources offer distinct identifications
for ex amplethat the Wang- liang is a tree and rock sprite while
the Wang- hsiang is a water sprite63 it appears that all three
binoms spring from a word designating certain telluric bogies.64
It was to protect the people from the Wang- liang that Y iis caldrons
were cast.66 The Ckou li describes a method of killing the Spirit
of the Water {shui shenby submerging a pole of catalpa wood
manuscript, the demonography is written in a continuous prose style. The sentences in
the text often cross over from one register to the next. Perhaps this unusual manuscript
marker (I know of no other examples of it) is used to mark the first and second registers
of the first slip of the demonographic scction in order to remind the reader not to read
the text down vertically beyond the register divisions but rather to continue reading
across the section horizontally by registers. Yang {* iang), the last word in line 3,
rhymes with hang and hsiang above.
61Sec Shirakawa, Kanji 1: 180.
62See the discussion of the book title Declarations of Odium for Mutant Prodigies in n. 4
63The locus classicus for this identification is a dcmonological teaching put in the mouth
of Confucius in Kuoyii (SPPY ed.), Iai yii 5.7a.
64There are additional binoms besides these three which share the same etymological
affinity. See the extended discussion of the relevant words in Kiang, Le Voyage, pp. 168-
216. Phonologically, the demon name Pkang-huang (*b,wang*g,wang) is the elosest
to Wang-hang (*iniwang-g^ng). Pang-huang is identified as the spirit of the wilds
{yek ) in Chuang tzuy Ta shcng, 7,5a (cf. n. 43 and 83). The velar initial of the sccond
syllabic differs from the names Wang-liang (*miwang-!iang), Wang-hsiang (*miwang-
dzang) and Fang-liang (*piwang-Uang). W. Boltz ^Philological footnotes to the
Han New Year Rites, J A OS 99 (1979); 432-33, reconstructs a hypothetical form
**BLjang *BZjang for the original demon name on the basis of the latter three binoms,
but Boltz docs not comment on P*ang-huang. P4ang-huang and the new Shui-hu-ti form
Wang-hang are nonetheless related to the other binoms and should be accounted for in
spccuJ ations on the phonological and semantic background of this set of demon names.
6ft See the Tso chuan passage translated in n. 56 above.
stuck with ivory teeth in water; the spirit, according to Cheng
Hsiian 127- 200)is named Wang- hsiang.66 In the Pao pu tzu
there is evidence of the same beliefs regarding maleficent
water sprites in an account of a huge turtle which plagued the local
populace from its dwelling in a deep river pool. The turtle was
finally killed by a magician who first forced it to the surface by
scattering talismans all over the pool and then killed it with a pole.87
The expulsion of the spectral denizens of the ground when burying
the dead was an act performed by the fang-hsiang the chief
exorcist.68 According to the Chou li9the fang-hsiangleads the funeral
procession and, on reaching the tombdescends into the burial pit
to drive out the Fang- liang. Cheng Hsiian identifies Fangliang with
Wang- liang.68 In the Feng su tlung i Y ing Shao ca. 140-
ca.206) cites this Chou li passage by way of ex plaining the custom
of planting a thuja on the tomb and placing a stone tiger at the
head of the path to the tomb: 70
On the tomb a thuja is planted and at the head oi the path a stone tiger. In the Chou
l i On the day of burial the fang- hsiang chief enters the pit to drive out the Wang-
hsiang. The Wang-hsiang likes to eat the liver and brain of the deceased. People
cannot constantly have the fang- hsiang stand by the side of the tomb to bar it. But
the Wang-hsiang fears the tiger and the thuja. Thus the tiger and thuja are placed
before the tomb.
The Feng su t'ung i names the Wang- hsiang, rather than the Fang
liang or Wang- liang, as the unsavory ghoul who lurks about the
In the Shui- hu- ti demonography, Wang- hang surely refers to the
68Chou li (SSCCS ed.), tlHu cho shih 37.7b.
97 Pao p'u tzut t(Teng she 17.15b.
This binom for the exorcist is probably related to the set of demon binoms under
discussion. See Kiang, Le Voyage, p. 168 ff.; Boltz ^Philological footnotesp. 433;
and Bodde, Festivalspp. 77-80 and ! 16-17. Ikcda Suetoshi Chugoku kodai
shukydshi kenkyii Tokyo: Tokai Daigaku Shuppankai, 1981), pp.
760-784 ((,Haiyu kigen k6 ) links the binom fang- hsiang to other words
which refer to the shamanic performance of masked animal dances; suggesting that
fang- hsiang, like wu , has an underlying connotation of shamanic dancing, it is probably
this conncction with shamanic dancing that accounts for the use of piang- huangi wang-
liongt and other related binoms in pre-Han and Han literature to describe qualities of
Chou liy Fang-hsiang shih 31,12a-b.
70Fang su tung i chiao~chu (Peking: Chung-huashu-chii1981),(<1wen p. 574.
71Yu- yang tsa tsu (TYtmg- shu chi-ch''eng ed.), 13.100records the same tradi
tion, paraphrasing the Feng su tung i text, and also names the Wang-hsiang.
same class of telluric sprites as Wang- liang, Wang- hsiang, and
Fang- liang. 11 is to combat these predatory spirits that people must
have recourse to magical prophylactics~ to talismans, spellsand
all manner of exorcistic devices. To this end, as stated in the third
line of the prologue, let the way for how to spellbind them be
The conclusion to the prologue in the fourth line enunciates the
first principle in dealing with demons (to know what is loathsome
to them) and lists the effective prophylactic body postures.72 Of
the four postures named, reclining in a crouch (ckcu woand
sitting like a winnowing basket (chi tsoare both attested in
later literature on physical cultivation. Taoist writings instruct the
adept to sleep on one side with the knees bent. This natal position
is said to increase the strength of the vital vapor [chHin the body
and provide protection from demonic incursions.73 The same
posture is also used in performing therapeutic exercises (the practice
of tao yin .74 To sit like a winnowing basket is to imitate the
72I t is signficant that the prologue names body postures rather than certain apotropaic
materials or charms as being what demons detest. The body itself can be exploited as
a natural demonifuge even without additional magical devices. The same reliance on the
rcsourccs of ones own body is also evident in the common belief that spitting was effec
tive against demons. For saliva magic in ancieni China, see Harper, The Wu Shih Erh
Ping Fang, pp. 83-97.
73The proper position for sleeping according to Taoist physical cultivation practices
is described in Sun Ssu-mos (seventh century) Ch'ien chin yao fang (f /Y
Bend the knees {ch'ii hsi and recline on one side. It increases the strength of a
persons vital vapor. . . . In sleeping one docs not tire of remaining curlcd up; in waking
one docs not tire of remaining outstretched. Whenever a person sleeps outstretched, then
there may be spectral affliction and diabolical evil.
The firsi two sentences of the above passage are also found in the description of sleeping
posture in the Yang hsingyen ming lu WK873)!.17a (this work is probably
a Sung compilation).
Six Dynasties Taoists also practiced a sleeping posture known as redining in the
Northern Dipper. I t entailed visualizing the stars of the Big Dipper on ones bedmat
and then positioning the body to fit within the bowl of the Dipper. See M. Soymi6,
Histoire et philologie de la Chine medievalo et modcrne Annuaire de l^Ecole Pratique
des Haates Etudes, IV e section (1971/72), p. 662 (citing Chen kao { HY 1010), 18.3a-b;
and Shang- ch^ing chin shu yu tzu skang- ching J J f { HY 878)1.1b). This
Dipper crouch allowed the adept to receive the beneficial influences of the stars of the
Big Dipper and to keep spectral peril at a distance.
74Wang Tzu-chHao laoy inja quoted in Yitn chi chH chHen (HY
1026), 34.1 lb, describes one position where the adept lies down with the knees crouched.
shape of the Chinese winnowing basket by sitting with the legs
spread apart and fully extended. This posture is used in Taoist thera
peutic exercises and is also one of the positions recommended for
intercourse in medieval sex manuals.76 The same posture is already
attested in pre- Han and Han literature as a way of expressing scorn,
for example, when Chao T o showed his contempt for the Han
envoy by wearing the teratoid topknot and sitting like a winnowing
basket.76 Its use in social situations was certainly related to the
apotropaic value of the posture as now attested in the demonography.
T hat certain postures had related applications in magico- religious
practice and in social manners is a point about which I will have
more to say while discussing the prologue postures.
The last two postures, interlinked motion (lien hsing) and the
leaning stand {chH li )are less well known. The term lien hsing
occurs in the Ckou li in a description of the decoration of the rack
used to support a set of bells. According to the commentary it denotes
piscine creatures.77 Perhaps the pairs of fish with interlaced tails
which are found in Han tomb art represent the decorative motif
of piscine interlinked motion. The body posture designated lien
hsingin the prologue may then refer to a position in which couples
interlink arms or legs in order to ward of f danger.78
The leaning stand may refer to a one- footed stance or perhaps
to standing with the body leaning against a prop. In either case
it is the fact that the posture is not squarely upright that is
76The usual term is chi chii although chi tso also occurs. As an exercise posi
tion see Ning hsien-skeng taoyinyang shengfa quoted in Yiin chi chH cffien
34.4a. As a sexual position see Tung ksiian tzu , a T*ang sex manual, in the recon
structed edition of Ych Tc-hui Shuang met citing an (1903?-
1908? woodblock ed.), .lb, where the man is instructed to sit like a winnowing basket
(chi tso) and cmbrace the woman.
76See the citations in n. 48 above.
77Chou li, Tzu jcn , 4U3b-14a.
,R Professor J effrey K. Ricgcl pointed out to me that a pair of fish with tails intcrlaccd
appears at the bottom of the painted banner found over the coffin in tomb one at Ma-
wang-tui; and I am indebted to Professor Riegel for first suggesting the interpretation
I now offer. K. Finsterbusch, Zur ikonographie der Gstlichcn Han-zeit (25-220 a.d.):
Bemcrkungen zu Michacl Locwcs Ways to Paradise:* MS 34 (1979-80): 420relates the
interlaced fish on the Ma-wang-tui banner to other interlaced figures (dragons, Fu
Hsi and Nu Kua) in Han mortuary art, and she compares the fish to a motif of fish
ciicirclcd by a ring which appears over tomb doors. The apotropaic function of the latter
fish motif ties in with the function of interlinked motion as a posture.
significant.79 To stand with ones body pitched over is prohibited
in the rules of etiquette of the Li chi . As amplified in the com
mentary, the rule forbids standing with one foot raised so that the
body is of f center: both feet must always be planted firmly on the
ground.80 The next rule in the Li chi is that one must not sit like a
winnowing basket. Thus it is evident that both postures were re
garded as particular expressions of disrespect. It is probable that
the leaning stand was also a therapeutic exercise in ancient physical
cultivation. The posture, written i li is named in the I)ieh
chih a brief essay on physical cultivation which is appended
to some editions of the Pao p^u tzu. The text itself appears to be a
Sung production, but it must preserve older traditions.81
It cannot be a coincidence that three of the prophylactic postures
in the Shui- hu- ti demonography are the names of exercises in later
physical cultivation literature (reclining in a crouchsitting like a
winnowing basketthe leaning stand); that the winnowing basket
posture also occurs in pre- Han and Han literature as an expression
of scorn; and that the now obscure posture known as interlinked
motion is related to animal configurations which are depicted in
7* ChH is used regularly in early texts to refer to a single limb or having one
limb impaired. Huai nan tzut Chui hsing 4.8b, mentions a chH ku min
(single legged people in a Shan hai ching style listing of the inhabitants of the regions
beyond the fringe of the Chinese domain; the corresponding entry in the Shan hai ching
itself reads chU hung single armYilan K*o Shan hai ching chiao-chu
[Shanghai: Shanghai Ku-chi Press, 1980], p. 212). One leg is the gloss given for chH
in SW 2B.24b. / meaning lean against [ SW 8A.I6b), is surely related to the
sense of physical impairment (for additional examples of this set of words being used lo
refer to impaired limbs, see Tuan commentary at SW 2B.24b).
B0Li chi (SSCCS cd.), Chii li shang 2.1 lb,
81 Pao /tzu Pieh chih, .lb. The term occurs in a passage defining tao yin. For
bibliographic details on the "Pieh chihsee Sakadc Yoshinobu ^Do-in kd
in Ikeda Suetoshi hakuse koki kitten toyogaku ronshu
(Hiroshima: Ikcda Suetoshi Hakuse Koki Kincn J igydkai, 1980), p. 230, n. 2. The
^Pieh chih does not say anything about how the leaning stand is to be performed. The
only other reference which I have found to i li is in the K/ung Ying-ta 574~648)
subcommentary on L i chiLi chi24.1a-b. The text of the L i chi concerns the
tradition that during ancestral worship the impersonator of the ancestor lies down only
during the part of the ccrcmony when food and drink are offered; during the rest of
the ceremony the impersonator is to stand. According to the subcommentary, the state
ment that the impersonator is to stand refers to a leaning stand (i li). Thai is, the
impersonator must be held up in a standing position, perhaps by attendants or by latcrai
Han religious art. These arc indications of complcx interrelations
between the postures and gestures used in magico- religious practice,
those adopted in popular custom, and those which becamc part of
the exercise regimen of physical cultivation.
Later literature on physical cultivation states that making the body
resistant to demonic incursions is one of the benefits to be realized
from practicing breath cultivation, cxerciscand dietctics, and it
is likely that the prophylactic postures in the demonography prologue
were already thcrapcutic exerciscs in the physical cultivation arts
of the third century B.C.82 The connection between the function
of magico- religious posture and of therapeutic exercise in the main
tenance of health is suggested in the Ckuang tzu, in the same anecdote
that identifies Topknot as the stove deity. The story conccrns a time
when Seigneur Huan of Chci went hunting with Kuan tzu
as driver. While in the marshes a demon appeared to Seigneur
Huan. alone. When he returned from the hunt the ruler fell into a
prolonged state of lassitude. Finally the learned Huang- tzu Kao- ao
- instructed Seigneur Huan on the nature of his malady
and the identity of the demon. His physical indisposition was of
his own making, an obstruction of the flow of vital vapor in his
body, and not the work of demons. Furthermore, the demon beheld
by the ruler was the marsh demon, Wei- i who appears to those
who will bccome an overlord. Delighted to hear that his demon
sighting was actually auspicious and not injurious, Seigneur Huan
donned his court costume and assumed his ritual position at court.
His illness vanished before the day was out.83
The Ckuang tzuappears to cite the anccdotc as an example of the
physiological and non- demonic origin of sickness. This represents
the adaptation of a story which must have been taken from a collec
tion of anecdotal literature about Seigneur Huan in order to
illustrate a particular philosophical point. Given the general belief
in Warring States times that a person must undergo exorcistic puri
fication after seeing demons, we could speculate that in its original
82The introduction to the therapeutic cxcrciscs of Chung Li quoted in Hsiu
chen shih shu { HY 263), 19.3b, slates that when the physical regimen is assiduously
practiced: Evil devils do not dare approach, there can be no confusion between dreaming
and waking, cold and hot cannot penetrate, and calamity and sickness cannot obstruct.
83Ckuang tzu, Ta shcng/74b-5a.
form the story may have had an exorcistic theme. After all, Seigneur
Huan believed that he was suflering from a demonic contagion
before being instructed by Huang- tzu Kao- ao, and his ritual posture
could have had both a therapeutic and an exorcistic function.84
Seigneur Huans actions provide a paradigm for the role of exercises
in righting bodily ills. J ust as a ruler by adopting the ritually corrcct
posture brings order to his own person and to the world, so too
might ccrtain exercise postures restore health to any individual.85
To what extent we may trace the origins of specific excrcises
back to magico- religious antecedents is a difficult question, but there
is certainly evidence of such antecedents. The earliest attested
physical cultivation exercises are those which imitate the movements
of animals. The Chuang tzu identifies the bear ramble {hsiung
chingand the bird stretch (niao shenas exercises per
formed by physical cultivation adepts.89 In Later Han times Il ua
T o taught a technique which he callcd the disportmcnt of'
the five crcatures five forms of exerciscs modeled after the tiger,
deer, bear, gibbon, and bird. Performance of these excrciscs removed
sickness from the bodv.87 The imitation of animal movements is
not just an ex ample of how man learns natures secrets by observing
the animals. A great many of these animal movements imitated as
exercises should rather be traccd to animal mimicry in the form
of masked dances in ancient religious practicc. Feathered dancers
performed the crane dancc arid other avian movements.88 The
84 According to one commentator, the rulers illness resulted from the loss of (he
hun and plo souls due to the demon sighting. The Han fei tzu anecdote cited in
n. 46 above provides a good example of the cxorcistic purifications required to purge the
ill effects of seeing a demon. When the cuckoldcd husband was convinccd that the naked
knight had really been a ghost, he bathed in animal feces in order to expel it. The spells
chanted following a nightmare served the same function (see n. 23 above).
83 The parallelism between the physical and politico-ritual in the ancicnt Chinese
conccpt of the ruler is conciscly defined in K. M. Schippcr, The Taoist body,History
of Religions 17 (1978): 355-57.
86Chuang tzu, K o i 6.1a (see also Hum nan tzu, Ching shen** 7.6b). The
bear ramble and bird stretch are both illustrated in a Ma-wang-tui tomb three manuscript
with drawings of various therapeutic cxerciscs (sec Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang'*
pp. 7-13).
Hou Han shu cki-chieh (photographic reproduction of 1915 woodblock
cd., reprinted by I-wen Press, Taipei, n.d.), 826.8a.
88The role of animal dances in early Chinese religion is treated passim in M. Grand,
Danses et legendes de la Chine ancienne (Paris: Alcan, 1926). For discussion of the cranc
specifically exorcistic aspect of animal dances was most prominent
in the No _ expulsion performed at New Year. As recounted in
the Hou Han shu treatise on ritual observances, twelve cos
tumed dancers acted the roles of the spirit beasts whom the cxorcist
conjured to devour the spectral monsters of the dying year. The
magical efficacy of these animal pantomimes would inevitably
have influenced the conception of therapeutic exercises as a
technique for driving away sickness. Exercises which an individual
might perform produced an effect comparable to exorcistic animal
The very fact that the four postures are singled out in the demono
graphy as effective against demons suggests that their magico-
religious value was primary and their employment in physical
cultivation secondary. The Li chi prohibitions against standing off
balance and sitting like a winnowing basket also suggest that these
two postures had definite associations with exorcistic actions which
made them unacceptable behavior in proper social intercourse.
The prophylactic nature of the leaning stand in the prologue may
be related to the limping and hopping movements used in ancient
shamanic dance steps. The Pace of Yii was the classic shamans
limp: it was performed by having one foot trail behind while the
other foot stepped forward. This lurching shuffle was a widely used
magical device for coercing the spirits and overcoming spectral
dance, and the nature of masked animal dances as a symbolic replication of animal
sacrifice, see pp. 216-225. M. Kaltenmark, Le lie-sien tchouan (Peking: Univcrsite de
Paris, Centre d'etudes sinologiques de Pekin, 1953)p. 23n. 1and p. I l l , n. 9, offers
further speculations on the crane and other bird dances in religious belief and practice.
88Hou Han shuChih 5.10b. The best study of the masked animal dance in
the No expulsion is Granct, Datises el legettdes, ]>p. 298-320. See also Bodde, Festivals,
pp. 81-127. The work of Ikeda Suetoshi cited in n. 68 above, adds greatly to our
knowledge of these masked dances in ancicnt religion. In Science and Civilisation in China
2: 145, Needham suggests tlic possibilily that the therapeutic exercises were derived
from the dances of the rain-bririging shamanthereby inferring a magico-religious
origin for the exercises. The significance of imitating animal movements in performing
cxcrciscs must, then, be interpreted in light of the conccption of these animals in magico-
religious belief.
90 See GranetRemarqucs and Danses et Ugendes^ pp. 549-54. The Pace of Yu was
said to entail either a shuffling or hopping motion on one leg. On the one-logged shaman
dance and the Pacc of Yii, see also W. Eberhard, The Local Cultures of South and East China
(Leiden: Brill, 1968)pp. 74-77.
It was not a matter of mere rudeness to adopt these postures before
others. The exorcistic aspect of the postures in magico- religious
practice was what gave meaning to their use. The social message
conveyed by such postures was clear: treat whom you dislike as you
would treat a demon. Han literature typically associates such
uncouth habits as wearing the teratoid topknot or sitting like a
winnowing basket with the customs of frontier foreigners, when in
fact these habits represent profanities derived from indigenous
magico- religious practice.91
Occurrences of the winnowing basket posture in literature provide
evidence of its profane application that reveals traces of the under
lying behavioral code. The posture occurs most often in conjunction
with derisive behavior and imprecations. Recounting a royal visit
which the founding Han monarch Kao tsu r. 206- 195 b.c.)
paid one of his noblesthe K ing of Chao in 200 b.c., the Shih
chi notes that in response to the young kings faultlessly respcctful
service: Kao tsu sat like a winnowing basket and cursed and was
extremely abusive to him. 92 Kao tsus behavior so outraged the
King of Chaos officials that they thought only his assassination
would atone for his offense. The phrase sit like a winnowing
basket and curse signifies more than fickle behavior born of ill-
breeding, it connotes the posture and language of malediction. The
purposefulness of this behavior is even more apparent in the Chan
kuo tsle tale of Ching K o and his bungled plot to assas
sinate Chin shih huang- ti . Ching Kos poisoned dagger
having struck a pillar rather than the Ghcin rulerChMn shih
huang- ti smote Ching K o repeatedly with his sword:93
#1Another example of the influence of the magical and sacred upon the profane is
the cursc uttcrancc na . I t is the same word as no, written or . S IV 9A.42b defines
no as the startled uttcrancc (when one) beholds a demon. The fact that no is an
cxorcistic expletive is ccrtainly significant in the meaning of the name of the rite of
expulsion, the No~the cursing of the noxious monsters probably included the chanting
of this utterance. Hou Han shu 83.1 la rccords the use of mz as a curse utterance in a secular
contcxt. A woman uttered a na in reviling a seller of drugs, Han K/ang who
refused to bargain with her over the price (see Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang,
pp. 78-79, for discussion of the nafno word family in the lexicon of incantatory uttcranccs).
92SC 89.10a. The boy was heir to the Han title of king (wang after the death of
his father, Chang Erh J fwho was allied with Liu Pang Kao tsu).
93 Chan kuo ls*e SWF ed.), Yen tse 31.7b (repeated in SC 86.17a).
K^o, realizing that the mission had failed, leaned against a pillar and laughed;
then, silting like a winnowing basket, cursed, saying, That the mission was not
successful is because I wanted to capture him alive and be certain to obtain a
binding pact, thereby avenging the heir apparent (of Yen ) Thereupon guards
came forward from the left and right and killed K*o.
Although gravely wounded, Ching K o did not lean against the
pillar and sit like a winnowing basket because his body failed him.
Ching K /os death sccnc as described in the Chan kuo ts^ was a consci
ous expression of hatred for the Chin ruler. The leaning stance and
winnowing basket posture were final gestures of scorn, meant to
add force to his parting curs These gestures in a context only
slightly different could have been performed just before uttering
imprecations against demons, for such exorcistic curses were reg
ularly preceded by specific ritual acts.84 Given the evidence of
prophylactic postures that we now have in the Shui- hu- ti demonog
raphy prologue, it is dear that contemporary readers of Ching
K os death sccnc would have appreciated the exorcistic elements
embedded in it.
Bccausc of the way the demonography prologue associates the
listing of demons arid exorcistic recipes which follow it with the
tradition of teaching the people to recognize and avoid dcmonic
harm, it is a significant addition to the whole text and to our under
standing of the nature of the ancient demonographic genre. As I
have already noted, Y lis magical caldrons described in the Tso
chuanwere the prototype for this tradition. Similarly the demono
graphies which circulated in the Six Dynasties period drew upon
tlie talismanic tradition of revealing the secret identity of spirits
and demons for the benefit of the people. The Pao pu tzulists the
Chiu ting chi (Record of the nine caldrons) among the docu
ments which may be used to drive away demons. The title refers
to Y l is nine caldrons, for the book constituted a reproduction of
the caldrons in the form of a demonography.95
The Pacc of Yu, for example, prcccdcs the chanting of a malediction in a number
of its occurrenccs in the Wu-shih-erh ping fang (see Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang
p. 98); and the method for expelling nightmare demons in the Shui-hu-ti occult manu
scripts (see n. 23 above) instructs the person to unbind the hair and sit facing the
northwest before chanting the incantation.
85 Pao izu, Tcng she/17.7b. Kiang, Le Voyage, pp. 71-72has sucsted that
the demonc^raphy Chiu ting chi mentioned in the Pao p*u tzu is quoted under the title
Mentioned along with the Chiu ting chi in the Pao pu tzu is the
Pai tse t'u Diagrams of white marsh). White Marsh is the
name of a spirit creature who instructed the Yellow God (Huang ti
in the ways of spirits and demons. The demonographic book
associated with White Marsh resulted from this divine tutorial, for
the Pao pKu tzunotes elsewhere that in order to foil the machinations
of the spirits, (the Yellow God) recorded the words of White
Marsh. 96 The Yellow Gods journey to the White Marsh and his
encounter with the spirit creature of the marsh is recounted in several
sources dating from the Six Dynasties and later. The crcature
appeared to the Yellow God while he was making a tour of the
Eastern Sea and revealed the names of the myriad spirit emanations,
which the Yellow God recorded and made known to the people
to protcct them from harm. According to some vcrsiofisWhite Marsh
also drew portraits of the spirits and demons and the Yellow God
composed incantations to be used against them.97
The Pai tse Vu is listed in the bibliographic treatises of the Sui
and T cang official histories. Passages attributed to it, preserved in
encyclopcdias and other sources, are collected in Ch*ing reconstruc
tions. The Tun- huang manuscript corpus also preserves portions
of an illustrated manuscript entitled Pai tse ching kuai tu
(Diagrams of spectral prodigies of White Marsh).68 J udg ing from
Hsia ting chih in Fa yuan chu lin ( Taishd 2122, p. 320c). For further
discussion of the Chiu ting chi and Hsia ting chih, see Ch*en Pan **Ku chan wei shu-lu
chich-Oi (erh)-(- ), 12 (1947): 38-40.
96Pao tzu, Chi yen 13.2b.
7The sources for the legend of White Marsh have been gathered logether by Yao
Chen-tsung in his commcnlary to the Sui shu bibliographic treatise entry
citcd in n. 98 below. Yiin chi ckU chHen 100.23b, adds the information that White Marsh
made portraits of ihc spirits and also that the Yellow God wrote incantations to be used
against ihe spirits.
For a summary of bibliographic details, see Yao Chen-tsung, Sui shu ching chi chih
k'ao cheng in vol. 4 of Erh- shih- wu shih pu- pien (K*ai-ming
Press, Taipei), p. 590. Ch(en f^an, Ku ch*an wci, 35-47, provides a comprehensive
examination of the Pai tse including the Tun-huang manuscript (Pclliot 2682). J ao
Tsung-i, Pa Tun-huang pen Pai tse ching kuai t*u liang tsan chiian
CY Y Y ^XA (1969): 539-43, includes plates of Pclliot 2682. J ao shows that Stein
6261 is a portion of the same manuscript which somehow became separated from Pclliot
2682. X have used the reconstruction of the Pai tse tu in Ma Kuo-han Y ii han
shanfang chi i shu (woodblock ed., preface dated 1874), "Tzu pien
Wu hsing lei . There is another reconstruction in Hung I-hsiian Ching
tien chi lin {Wen ching t'ang ts^ung-shu cd.)which I have not seen.
these fragments, the original book was composed of separate entries.
In each entry there was first an indication of the type of spirit
involved; then the spirits name was given; and finally there were
details of the magical methods either to coerce the spirit for profit
or to exorcise it. The entries which make up the Shui- hu- ti demono
graphy are composed in the same manner and there are also parallels
in content. Thus the relationship between the Shui- hu- ti demono
graphy and the Pai tse t^unot only consists in the sharing of certain
demonological legendsthe talismanic tradition of Y iis caldrons
but involves a clear tex tual tradition. Although only one section of
a larger occult manuscript, the Shui- Jiu- ti demonography is a
thir d centur y b .c . ex emplar of the same demonog r aphic genre
represented by the Pai tse t^uin the Six Dynasties.
O f the original Pai tse tuwe now have only a few fragmentary
entries remnants of a once rich demonological lore. Thus the Shui-
hu- ti text is both the oldest and the best preserved of the ancient
demonographies. Detailed ex amination of demon classification,
of the form and manner of spectral manifestations, of the magical
practice described in the textand of the cultural background which
lies behind specific demonological beliefs: these studies are best
taken up with the full text in hand. Without offering a comprehensive
survey of the demonography, and also without providing the textual
and philological analysis which will appear in my translation, I would
like nonetheless to discuss several entries in the demonography.
My purpose is to illustrate the relationship of the text to the Pai
tse fu and to offer some preliminary observations on the types of
demons and forms of magic in the text.
The format of the entries in the Shui- hu- ti demonography is as
described above for the Pai tse t6u. The following entry is the first
to appear after the prologue:99
When a person is attacked for no reason by a demon, this is the Stabbing Demon
(tz*u kuei ).10 Make a bow from peach wood, arrows from jujube, and feather
them with chicken feathers. Shoot it when it next appears and it will go away.
>9YMCMy plate 132, slips 869-868, reverse, first register (see figure 2).
100 The words which I translate as this is are shih shih, written = on the manu
script. This formula occurs reguarly in the text when naming the demons; and it provides
the earliest evidence for the use of the demonstrative shih in a verbal construction.
Compare both the format and content of the Stabbing Demon
entry with this entry from the Pai tse^m:101
The sprite of abandoned tomb mounds102 is named Wolf Demon (lang kuei .103
I t likes to engage people in combat and does not desist. Make a peach bow, jujube
arrows, and attach kite feathers to them. Shoot it with them. I f Wolf Demon
becomes Whirling Wind (p(iao feng )104remove a shoe, throw (the shoe) at it,
and it cannot transform.
Both entries begin with the type of demon (one which attacks for
no reason, and one which inhabits abandoned tombs); followed by
a specific identification (Stabbing Demon, Wolf Demon); followed
by the magic which controls it (exorcistic archery).
Pre- Han and Han ritual literature records numerous instances
of exorcistic observances involving archery. The recommended
method of removal in the two entries above is the classic form of
exorcistic archery with peach and jujube.106 The particular signifi
cance of archery in the Shui- hu- ti demonography lies in the fact
that it shows the demonifugal bow and arrow already in use as
popular dcvices for countering spectral attacks. T hat is, these exorcis
tic acts were not restricted to the observances of organized religion,
but might be performed by any individual in a moment of need.
While the diffusion of such practices into the activities of daily life
is fairly well documented for the Six Dynasties period and later,
nearly all of the magical practices described in the Shui- hu- ti
demonography are only attested in the context of formal religious
rites in ancient sources. Thus the demonography permits us to set in
focus a previously hazy picture of the interrelations between religious
and folkloristic traditions in Warring States and Ch^n- Han times.
Besides the evidence from other sections of the Shui- hu- ti occult
101Pai tse tu (Y ii lian shanfang chi i shu ed.), 3b.
102For the use of ckUu to mean abandoned, see HS 45.18aap. chHu iHng
and Yen Shih-ku,s commentary.
103Wolf Demon is the name for the sprite of abandoned tomb mounds. The wolf as a
dangerous spirit creature in its own right also appears in the Pai tse t*u and the Shui-hu-
ti demonography (see n. 123 below).
m A Whirling Wind demon is mentioned several times in the Shui-hu-ti demono
graphy, which also recommends throwing a shoe at it (see n. 110 below).
105 Granet discusses the apotropaic woods used for bows in the rites of expulsion
described in Han ritual literature in Le depot de enfant sur le sol, in Etudes sociologiques
sur la Chine (Paris: Presses Univcrsitaircs de France, 1953), pp. 165-167. Bodde, Festivals
pp. 127-38, also reviews the early sources concerning the ritual use of peach bows.
manuscripts, similar documentation of the popularity of this type
of magic comes from the Ma- wang- tui remedy manual Wu-skih-erk
ping fang. Alongside rccipes for thcrapcutic treatments and the com
pounding of drugs, this medical book includes rccipes for performing
magical exorcistic cures. Malediction, archery, flagellation, magical
entrapment, and demon inquisition: all these and more are described
as treatments for bites, warts, swellingsand the like.106The similarity
of magical recipes in the Wu-skih-erh ping fangto entries in the Shui-
hu- ti demonography also reveals the extent to which the entries
are a type of recipe literaturethey identify the demonic ailment
and provide a remedy.107
As in the Pai tse the Shui- hu- ti demonography usually (but
not always) gives a name to the various demons being described.
The names revealed in the Pai tse t6uare potent words, for simply
knowing a demons name and shouting it is the most common
magical device described in the fragments of this book. Indeed, a
principal function of the Pai tse t^uwas as a register of cach demons
proper name. The Chuang tzuanccdotc about Seigneur Huan of Ch*i
and the marsh demon Wei- i also furnishes a list of demon proper
names. Knowing these names must have provided magical control
over them in the earlier demonological tradition as well.108 However
the Shui- hu- ti demonography does not appear to exploit name
magic. Perhaps the appellations in the text are not, strictly speaking,
the type of proper name which might give a person magical control
over the demon. I f that is so, wc should not expect to find the
identifications provided in the Shui- hu- ti demonography used in
incantatory name- calling.
While some of the fragments of the Pai tse tudescribe genie powers
which can benefit the person who knows the appropriate magic,
106 Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang pp. 67-106surveys the contents and signifi
cance of the magical rccipes in the Wu-shih~rh ping fang.
10? In terms of text format the entries in the Shui-hu-ti demonography also resemble
the recipes in medical recipe manuals. Each entry begins in a new column on the manu
script ralher than being written continuously in the space immediately under the
preceding entry. The meaning of fang recipcoriginally the tablet on which a
recipe was recorded) and its significance in the transmission of occult literature by fang
shih (masters of recipes) during the Warring States and Ch*in-Han periods is
discusscd in Harper, The Wu Shih Erh Ping Fang^ pp. 51-67.
108 Kuan tzuc<Shui ti 14.3a-b, attests to this aspect of demonology in a passage
which appears to be based on material from an early demonography:
the Shui- hu- ti demonography entries ail deal with prophylactic and
cxorcistic measures against demons.109 The deviccs which foil
dcmonic attacks need not be as elaborate as the cxorcistic archery
described above. Simply throwing a shoe may suffice, as in the
instruction in the Pai tse tufor trapping the Wolf Demon when it
becomes the Whir ling Wind. The same practice is described in the
Shui- hu- ti demonography, thrice as a means of countering the
Whir ling Wind.110 Other things which the demonography recom
mends throwing are white stones and cxcremcnt.111 The latter is a
well known demonifuge. Its use in the demonography is a good
ex ample of precautionary magic: 112
I'hc dwelling places of the great spirits cannot be passed through. They like to
injure people. Make pellets from dog excrement and carry them when passing
through. Throw them at the spirit when it appears, and it will not injure people.
Carrying prophylactic pills and amulets when venturing into the
Ch*ing-chi is like a human being in shape; is four inches long; wears a yellow robe;
has a yellow headdress; carries a yellow parasol overhead; and rides a small horse. It
likes lo gaUop at high speed. Shout oul its name to it, and it can be dispatchcd beyond
a ihousand li and report back in a single day. This is the genic of ihc dry marsh. .. . Wei
has one head and two bodies; its form is like a serpent and is cighl feet long. Shout
out its name to it, and one can catch fish and turtles. This is the genie of the dry river.
109As in the Kuan tzu passage cited in n. 108, entries in the Pai tse t'u describe how one
can obtain favors and goods by calling out the demons name.
110YMCMy plate 134, slips 844-843, reverse, first register; plate 134slip 839reverse,
third register; and plate 135, slip 832, reverse, second register. Robert Chard, University
of California, Berkeley, has written a study of pHao fang in the Shui-hu-ti demonography
and in the received literature, The demon Whirlwind { Piiao-feng ) in ihe Shui-
hu-ti Jik- shu. Shoe-throwing is employed in a number of other entries in the Shui-hu-ii
demonography as well.
111For white stones, see Y MCMSplait* 132slip 868reverse, third register. The full
inventory of materials is lengthy; and it is revealing in terms of continuity with other
evidence of magical practicc in the received literature. At times ihe text is reminiscent of
passages in the Shan hai ching concerned with ihc magical properties of ccrtain plants,
minerals, or animals. Often substances arc ashed, jusl as might be done in the preparation
of a drug, and then the ashes arc sprinkled over the area to be magically purified. Chou
l i 37.6b-8a, furnishes several examples of ashes used exorcistically and other apotropaics.
Marvels, exorcistic magic, and pharmacy were all bound together in the occult tradition.
The Shui-hu-ti demonography alUrsts lo that interrelationship.
112 YMCM, plate 132slips 869-868, reverse, sccond register (see figure 2). Tiic Han
Jet (zu anecdote cited in n. 46 and n. 84 above is one of the earliest references to the
exorcistic use of feces. For similar use of feces in the Wu-shih-erk ping /angy see Harper,
The Wu Shih Erh PingFang} p. 106.
wild regions inhabited by monstrous powers is the subject of much
discussion in the Pao p^u tzu.yxfl
Scrceching, drum heating, and bell ringing arc also effective:114
I f humans or birds and beasts as well as the six domestic animals constantly roani
through a persons domicile, these are spirits from above who like to descend and
take pleasure in entering. Have boys and girls who have never entered the domi
cile118 beat drums, ring bells with clappers, and screech at them, and they will not
The Shih chi account of the ill- omened birth of Pao Ssu tlie
woman said to have ruined the House of Chouprovides an inter
esting parallel that also illustrates the use of exorcistic screeching
(sao )116 During the reign of King Li (ninth ccntury B.C.)
a vessel containing dragon essence, a holy treasure handed down
from the Hsiawas opened and the dragon csscncc cscapcd into
the palace:117
I t could not be expelled. King L i had the wives strip naked and screech at it. The
essence changed into a dark lizard and entered the kings rear palace. An adoles
cent girl who had already lost her baby teeth118 encountered it. At the age of re
ceiving the hairpin she became pregnant11and without husband gave birth to an
Abandoned and later rcintroduced to the Chou harem, this fruit
of a monstrous seed was the infamous Pao Ssu. The spirits from
above mentioned in the Shui- hu- ti demonography arc no doubt
of a sort like the dark lizard who raped the palace maiden. The
chor us of naked wives is a liter al acting out of the wor d sao: as
explained in the Shih chi commentary, saorefers to screeching en
Quite a few entries in the Shui- hu- ti demonography deal with
113Especially Pao p%u tzu, Tcng she.
114YMCM, plate 132, slips 865-863reverse, second register (see figure 2).
116Perhaps the phrase weiju kung refers to children who arc not yet married.
1,6 This is the graph used to write sao in the demonography, glossed in SW 2B. 32b as
birds crying en masse. The Shih chi passage below uses the graph glossed in SW
3A.26a as wrangle (jao ) . The word connotes a cacophonous multiludc of voices,
especially of birds; and, thus, in exorcistic practicc refers to a chorus of screechers.
116The age of seven sui for a woman according to the commentary.
m Marriageable age.
120Reconfirming the basic sense of sao in the gloss in SW 2B.32b.
anthropomorphic and zoomorphic spirits and a number of these
apparitions are associated with sexual danger. There is good evidence
of dog hysteria in an entr y about the spirit dog (shen kou
who enters peoples homes at night, seizing the husbands and
sporting with the women.121 When a person hears animals talking,
this is also a sign of spectral powers playing tricks.122 Various
creaturcs and poltergeists may taunt people with noisome sounds
or tempt them with deceptive words. The wolf is the subject of an
entry which also furnishes advice on cooking these beasts: The
wolf always shouts at peoples doors saying, Open up. I am not a
spectre.* K ill it and boil it. The taste of the flesh is very fine .123
It is a pity that we do not have statistics on how often the wolf outside
the door found the occupants already wise to its ruse and ended up
in the stewpot.124
The catalogue of ghosts, revenants, spooks, bogies, inex plicable
contagions, and hauntings in the Shui- hu- ti demonography is
extensive. We have always known that this type of literature existed
in antiquity: the appropriate titles are recorded in the Han shu
bibliographic treatise, and the fragments of the Pai tse tlucan now
be seen to exemplify the early dcmonographic literature as well.
The particular significance of the Shui- hu- ti demonography for the
study of ancient magico- rcligious traditions lies in the fact that
the text is a manual of demon lore which was intended for use by
believers. The Lun hengrefers to many superstitions about demons,
but Wang Chungs sole purpose was to refute such beliefs. Other
writers collected odd bits of popular demon lore in a more reportorial
181 Y MCMt plates 133-134slips 849-847, reverse, first register. According to the text,
the spirit dog takes the guise of a ghost (wet wei kuei ) On the dog demon, see dc
Groot, The Religious System of China 5:571-76, who notes that in popular belief dogs appear
as crafty imposters, and abusers of women.
M2 YMCMt plate 134, slips 844-843, reverse, first register (the animals* spccch is said
to be causcd by the vapor of the Whirling Wind); plate 134, slips 837-836, reverse, first
register (concerned with birds and beasts who speak to people when they are alone,
labeling them prodigies).
128 YMCM, plate 132, slip 863, reverse, third register (see figure 2). See de Groot, The
Religious System of China 5: 563-70, for traditional lore on the wiles of the wolf. Pai tse
t*u ,4a, reports that the hundred year old wolf changes into a beautiful woman who sits
by the roadside telling men chat she is orphaned and being them to marry her.
124 Cooking the demon after capturing it is mentioned in four of the Pai tse t*u entries
manner, for example, Y ing Shaowho included a chaptcr entitled
Prodigies and Spirits ( Kuai shen ) in the Feng su fung?.126
Playing in part the role of folklorist, Ying Shao made a record of
beliefs still current in his day, but his accounts represent the impres
sions of an interested observer and cataloguer, not the learning of
a demonological specialist. Buried in a tomb in 217 B.C., the Shui-
hu- ti demonography provides scholars of the twentieth century with
a unique testament to the literature which guided the ancient
Chinese in their daily interaction with the demon world.
125 Feng su t*ung i, ch. 9. Dcmonological matters arc touchcd upon throughout Ying