Myths and Legends of China
Page: 127Like Kuan Kung, he is shown bearing in his arms a male child—indicating a promise of numerous progeny, including literati and famous officials. Consequently he is one of the spiritual beings honoured by the literati.
Han Hsiang Tzŭ
Han Hsiang Tzŭ, who is depicted with a bouquet of flowers or a basket of peaches of immortality, is stated to have been a grand-nephew of Han Yü (A.D. 768–824), the great statesman, philosopher, and poet of the T’ang dynasty, and an ardent votary of transcendental study. His own name was Ch’ing Fu. The child was entrusted to his uncle to be educated and prepared for the public examinations. He excelled his teacher in intelligence and the performance of wonderful feats, such as the production from a little earth in a flower-pot of some marvellous flowering plants, on the leaves of which were written in letters of gold some verses to this effect:
The clouds hide Mount Ch’in Ling.
Where is your abode?
The snow is deep on Lan Kuan;
Your horse refuses to advance.
“What is the meaning of these verses?” asked Han Yü. “You will see,” replied Han Hsiang Tzŭ.
Some time afterward Han Yü was sent in disgrace to the prefecture of Ch’ao-chou Fu in Kuangtung. When he reached the foot of Lan Kuan the snow was so deep that he could not go on. Han Hsiang Tzŭ appeared, and, sweeping away the snow, made a path for him. Han Yü then understood the prophecy in his pupil’s verses. Page 300
When Han Hsiang Tzŭ was leaving his uncle, he gave him the following in verse:
Many indeed are the eminent men who have served their country, but which of them surpasses you in his knowledge of literature? When you have reached a high position, you will be buried in a damp and foggy land.
Han Yü also gave his pupil a farewell verse:
How many here below allow themselves to be inebriated by the love of honours and pelf! Alone and watchful you persevere in the right path. But a time will come when, taking your flight to the sky, you will open in the ethereal blue a luminous roadway.
Han Yü was depressed at the thought of the damp climate of his place of exile. “I fear there is no doubt,” he said, “that I shall die without seeing my family again.”
Han Hsiang Tzŭ consoled him, gave him a prescription, and said: “Not only will you return in perfect health to the bosom of your family, but you will be reinstated in your former offices.” All this took place exactly as he had predicted.
Another account states that he became the disciple of Lü Tung-pin, and, having been carried up to the supernatural peach-tree of the genii, fell from its branches, but during his descent attained to the state of immortality. Still another version says that he was killed by the fall, was transformed, and then underwent the various experiences with Han Yü already related.