Myths and Legends of China

Page: 89

Before he had finished speaking, a red dragon, a thousand feet long, with red scales, mane of fire, bloody tongue, and eyes blazing like lightning, passed through the air with rapid flight and disappeared. Barely a few moments had elapsed when it returned with a young woman whom Liu I recognized as the one who had entrusted him with the letter. The Dragon-king, overjoyed, said to him: “This is my daughter; her husband is no more, and she offers you her hand.” Liu did not dare to accept, since it appeared that they had just killed her husband. He took his departure, and married a woman named Chang, who soon died. He then married another named Han, who also died. He then went to live at Nanking, and, his solitude preying upon his spirits, he decided to marry yet again. A middleman spoke to him of a girl of Fang Yang, in Chihli, whose father, Hao, had been Magistrate of Ch’ing Liu, in Anhui. This man was always absent on his travels, no one knew whither. The girl’s mother, Cheng, had married her two years before to a man named Chang of Ch’ing Ho, in Chihli, who had just died. Distressed at her daughter being left a widow so young, the mother wished to find another husband for her.

Liu I agreed to marry this young woman, and at the end of a year they had a son. She then said to her husband: “I am the daughter of the King of the Tung-t’ing Lake. It was you who saved me from my miserable plight on the bank of the Ching, and I swore I would Page 220reward you. Formerly you refused to accept my hand, and my parents decided to marry me to the son of a silk-merchant. I cut my hair, and never ceased to hope that I might some time or other be united to you in order that I might show you my gratitude.”

In A.D. 712, in the reign-period K’ai-yüan of the Emperor Hsüan Tsung of the T’ang dynasty, they both returned to the Tung-t’ing Lake; but the legend says nothing further with regard to them.

Shang Ti, the Supreme Ruler, conferred on Liu I the title of Chin Lung Ta Wang, ‘Golden Dragon Great Prince.’

The Old Mother of the Waters

The Old Mother of the Waters, Shul-mu Niang-niang, is the legendary spirit of Ssŭ-chou, in Anhui. To her is popularly ascribed the destruction of the ancient city of Ssŭ-chou, which was completely submerged by the waters of the Hung-tsê Lake in A.D. 1574.

One author states that this Goddess of the Waters is the younger sister of the White Spiritual Elephant, a guardian of the Door of Buddha. This elephant is the “subtle principle of metamorphosed water.”

In his Recherches sur Us Superstitions en Chine, Père Henri Doré, S.J., relates the legends he had heard with regard to this deity. One of these is as follows:

Shui-mu Niang-niang inundated the town of Ssŭ-chou almost every year. A report was presented to Yu Huang, Lord of the Skies, begging him to put an end to the scourge which devastated the country and cost so many lives. The Lord of the Skies commanded the Great Kings of the Skies and their generals to raise troops and take the field in order to capture this goddess and deprive Page 221her of the power of doing further mischief. But her tricks triumphed over force, and the city continued to be periodically devastated by inundations.