The hound as go between – A Chinese mysterious tale
The hound as go-between – A Chinese mysterious tale
During the Han dynasty, Huang Yuan of the principality of Taishan opened his gate one morning to find a black hound sitting outside keeping watch, as if it belonged to the house. Huang fastened it to a lead and took it out on a hunt with some neighbouring lads. When dusk was falling he saw a deer and loosed the hound, which ran so fast that try as he might he could not catch up with it.
After following it for several li he reached a mountain cave. He went in for about a hundred yards till he came to a highway flanked with ash and willow trees, with walls on either side. Then Huang followed the hound through a gate. He found several dozen rooms within, filled with beautiful girls in splendid attire, engaged in strumming lyres, plucking harps or playing draughts.
When he reached the north pavilion, he found three rooms with two maids in attendance. At the sight of Huang, they looked at each other and smiled.
«This is the husband the hound has brought for Miao yin!»
One maid stayed there while the other went inside. Soon four maids came out and announced that Madame Taichen had this proposal for Huang:
I have a daughter who is now fifteen and old enough to marry. Fate has destined her to be your wife.»
When night fell Huang was led into a hall with a southern exposure that overlooked a lake. There was a pavilion in the lake, with entrances at the four corners. It was brightly lit and had curtains and a couch inside. Miao-yin was a ravishing beauty, and her maids were pretty girls too. After the wedding was over, they feasted and went to bed. A few days later Huang wanted to go home to announce his marriage to his family.
«Mortals differ from immortals,» sighed Miao-yin. «We cannot be together for long after all.»
The next day she gave him her jade pendant as a parting gift and shed tears by the steps.
We cannot remain together although I love you so dearly! Think of me on the first of each third month, and fast and purify yourself on that day.»
The four maids saw Huang out, and in half a day he reached home. He longed for his fairy wife, and each year at the appointed time he would catch a glimpse of her carriage gliding through the air.
From, Liu Yiqing, Records of Light and Dark. Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang.
We remember that the dog commonly acts as a psychopomp, that is to say, it accompanies the soul of the dead in their travels in the other world, it is therefore a communicator between the world of the people and the world of the gods. This activity is shown here in another curious facet.
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