Myths and Legends of China
Image of K’uei Hsing
In front of Wên Ch’ang, on his left, stands K’uei Hsing. He is represented as of diminutive stature, with the visage of a demon, holding a writing-brush in his right hand and a tou in his left, one of his legs kicking up behind—the figure being obviously intended as an impersonation of the character k’uei (2).6 He is regarded as the distributor of literary degrees, and was invoked above all in order to obtain success at the competitive examinations. His images and temples are found in all towns. In the temples dedicated to Wên Ch’ang there are always two secondary altars, one of which is consecrated to his worship.
Wên Ch’ang, K’uei Hsing, and Chu I.
Ma P’o, her neighbour, introduced him one day into the Crystal Palace for an interview with his future wife. The Princess gave him the choice of three careers: to live in the Dragon Prince’s Palace, with the guarantee of immortal life, to enjoy immortality among the people on the earth, or to have the honour of becoming a minister of the Empire. Lu Ch’i first answered that he would like to live in the Crystal Palace. The young lady, overjoyed, said to him: “I am Princess T’ai Yin. I will at once inform Shang Ti, the Supreme Ruler.” A moment later the arrival of a celestial messenger was announced. Two officers bearing flags preceded him and conducted him to the foot of the flight of steps. He then presented himself as Chu I, the envoy of Shang Ti.
Addressing himself to Lu Ch’i, he asked: “Do you wish to live in the Crystal Palace?” The latter did not reply. T’ai Yin urged him to give his answer, but he persisted in keeping silent. The Princess in despair retired to her apartment, and brought out five pieces of precious cloth, which she presented to the divine envoy, begging him to have patience a little longer and wait for the answer. After some time, Chu I repeated his question. Then Lu Ch’i in a firm voice answered: “I have consecrated my life to the hard labour of study, and wish to attain to the dignity of minister on this earth.”
T’ai Yin ordered Ma P’o to conduct Lu Ch’i from the palace. From that day his face became transformed: he acquired the lips of a dragon, the head of a panther, the green face of an Immortal, etc. He took his degree, and was promoted to be Director of the Censorate. The Emperor, appreciating the good sense shown in his advice, appointed him a minister of the Empire.