The Bewitched Wife

Chinese New Year Woodblock print_Lion
Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints
January 15, 2016
The Bewitched Wife
This is a story by the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) author Dai Fu that Julie Grundvig translated and adapted from Chinese. The complete story, with music, narration and interactive components, is available on iTunes.
Bewitched_wife_sick wife
Long ago in China during the Tang Dynasty, there was a beautiful woman who suffered from a strange illness. Her husband, an important official in the Royal Court, tried everything to cure her. Doctors from far and wide came to help, offering her their tonics, potions, charms and herbal remedies. Nothing worked.
Bewitched_wife_page02_Horse
The official's wife grew paler and weaker by the day and she spent most of her days in a trance. Strangely, the family horse, once fine and strong, was also becoming thin and weak, even though it was fed the sweetest grass and hay.
Bewitched_wife_page03_Daoist

In desperation, the official decided to ask the Daoist magician who lived in a temple on the outskirts of town for help. Supposedly, the Daoist knew the answers to many unexplained things.

Early one morning, the official paid him a visit. When he entered the temple, he saw the old Daoist sitting on a bamboo mat deep in meditation. His long, flowing beard gave him a wise, saintly appearance.

The official bowed deeply to the Daoist and begged him for help. When the Daoist heard the official’s story, he chuckled. “Don’t you know that a troublesome ghost is causing your wife’s illness? Your horse is tired because it travels a thousand miles every night. How could it not get thinner?" "How can this be true?" cried the official in shock.

The Daoist explained, "Every night when you report for duty, your wife sneaks out of the house. If you don't believe me, come home one night while you are on duty and see for yourself." The official, very troubled by this news, thanked the Daoist and went home.

That very evening, the official returned from court and hid himself behind the curtains in the bedroom.

When the moon was high, the official saw his wife rise from bed. She ordered her maid to pin up her hair, rouge her cheeks and fetch her prettiest silk gown and slippers. Once she was done dressing, she asked her maid to saddle the horse and meet her by the front steps.

The official watched through the window as his wife mounted the horse and gradually rose into the sky, followed by her maid, who rode on a broom.

The official was terrified. The next morning, he ran back to the Daoist. "It’s true! My wife is bewitched! What can I do?" The Daoist closed his eyes and stroked his beard, deep in thought. In a moment, he opened them again. He pulled from his robe a red charm on a string and gave it to the official. “Wear this charm close to your heart,” the priest said. “Then the ghost cannot hurt you. Now go home and spy on your wife again.”

Bewitched_wife_page07_hiding in urn

The official did what he was told. That evening, he returned home from duty and hid himself behind a large urn in the hall.

It wasn't long before his wife came into the hall fully dressed and ready to leave. When she reached the urn where her husband was hiding, she sniffed the air suspiciously. "Why does it smell like magic in here?" she asked her maid. "Light the hall and search everywhere!" The maid, in a hurry to please her mistress, lit her broom as a torch and searched the room. The official panicked and climbed into the urn to hide.

Bewitched_wife_Party
After the hall was searched and no one was found, his wife gave up and decided to leave. Since her broom was burnt, the maid had nothing to ride on. "You don't need a broom to fly," the wife told her. "You can ride anything." The maid quickly rolled the urn out the front door and mounted it. Inside the urn, the official was too afraid to move. The maid on the urn and the wife on her horse soared high into the night sky, flying over villages, rivers, and mountains.
Bewitched_wife_Falling Down Mountain

When dawn was just breaking over the horizon, the wife and the maid were ready to leave.

The wife mounted her horse and told the maid to ride the urn. The maid, just as she was getting on, saw the terrified official inside. She cried out in surprise, "Hey, there's someone in here!" Luckily, the charm the official wore prevented him from being recognized. "Push him down the mountainside!" ordered the wife. The maid dumped the official out, rolled him down the mountain and left, riding on the urn.

Waiting until it was light, the official climbed back up to the clearing. He found no one and nothing left of the party but smoldering cinders and ash. He soon discovered a rugged trail along which he walked dozens of miles before he got off the mountain. He eventually reached a small village nestled in the foothills, where he was told he was a thousand miles or so from his hometown. After a difficult journey of over a month, he finally arrived home.

Bewitched_wife_page13_final
When he entered his home, he was greeted by the distraught maid. “Master, where have you been?” the maid wailed. “When you did not return, your wife was so upset she fell into a deep sleep and I haven’t been able to wake her!” The official rushed to his wife’s bedside. His wife lay sleeping, the silk blankets pulled high to her chin, her chest rising and falling in short gasping breaths. “I must find a way to help her!” the official thought.
Bewitched_wife_Meet the Hag

He rushed to the temple and told the Daoist the whole story. The old man sighed, “This is a very grave situation,” he said. “You must catch this ghost and get rid of it!” He gave the official another amulet, telling him to hang it outside the door of the bedroom and stand guard over his wife. The official returned home and ordered the maid to stay in her room and not come out. He sat by his wife’s bedside and waited for night to fall.

At about midnight, the official heard a shuffle outside the bedroom door. He looked through the door and saw a stooped old hag in the hall. When the hag saw the amulet on the door, she gnashed her teeth. “You want to frighten me! But don’t think I will give up so easily!” With that, she tore the amulet to pieces. “I’ll be back again!” she howled, before disappearing in a cloud of mist. The official was so afraid he did not close his eyes for the rest of the evening.

Bewitched_wife_Fight Hag

Early the next morning, he returned to the Daoist and told him the events of last night. After hearing the story, the Daoist said, “That vile ghost! She must be punished!” The Daoist returned with the official to his house. When he entered the bedroom of the sleeping wife, he looked around, sniffed the air, and said, “The ghost is very close. Who else lives in the house?” The official replied that in addition to himself, there was his wife and her maid along with several other servants.

The Daoist demanded that he speak to the maid, who was brought from her room shaking and frightened. “Has any one else come to the house?” asked the Daoist. “Yes,” said the maid. “A month ago an old woman came to us and offered her services as a servant. She was so thin and in such poor health, I felt sorry for her. I told her she could feed the chickens and collect the eggs. In return I would give her a few coins a week.” “Why, that must be the ghost!” exclaimed the Daoist.

He set out for the chicken hut, followed by the official and the maid. With a wooden sword in hand, the Daoist stood in the centre of the yard and shouted, “You horrid creature! Come out and show yourself!” The old hag rushed from the hut and tried to run away.

Bewitched_wife_hag in bottle
The Daoist caught up with her and swung his sword. The hag dropped to the ground, crying and squealing like a pig. The Daoist waved his sword over the hag, who turned into a thick column of white smoke, which spiraled up from the ground. The Daoist took a bottle from his robe and uncorked it. A sucking sound was heard and all the smoke was drawn into the bottle. The Daoist popped the cork on the bottle and put it inside his robe.
Bewitched_wife_happy again

“What about my wife?” asked the official. “Will she ever recover?” “Yes,” said the Daoist. “Wrap her in silk and bind her tight. Wait for her body to grow warm and then release her.” With that, the Daoist said goodbye and left the house, with the official thanking him again and again. The official took a long piece of silk and wrapped his wife tightly. Later, when he felt her body, he found it was slowly growing warm. He covered her with a quilt and waited. At midnight, he unwrapped her from the silk and found her breathing to be slow and steady. When daylight broke, his wife came to herself. “I was trapped in an awful nightmare,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “I have such a terrible headache!”

The official encouraged her to rest and in a few days she recovered completely. The official and his wife were never troubled by ghosts again.

The Bewitched Wife
This is a story by the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907) author Dai Fu that I translated and adapted from Chinese. The complete story, with music, narration and interactive components, is available on iTunes.
Bewitched_wife_sick wife
Long ago in China during the Tang Dynasty, there was a beautiful woman who suffered from a strange illness. Her husband, an important official in the Royal Court, tried everything to cure her. Doctors from far and wide came to help, offering her their tonics, potions, charms and herbal remedies. Nothing worked.
Bewitched_wife_page02_Horse
The official's wife grew paler and weaker by the day and she spent most of her days in a trance. Strangely, the family horse, once fine and strong, was also becoming thin and weak, even though it was fed the sweetest grass and hay.
Bewitched_wife_page03_Daoist

In desperation, the official decided to ask the Daoist magician who lived in a temple on the outskirts of town for help. Supposedly, the Daoist knew the answers to many unexplained things.

Early one morning, the official paid him a visit. When he entered the temple, he saw the old Daoist sitting on a bamboo mat deep in meditation. His long, flowing beard gave him a wise, saintly appearance.

The official bowed deeply to the Daoist and begged him for help. When the Daoist heard the official’s story, he chuckled. “Don’t you know that a troublesome ghost is causing your wife’s illness? Your horse is tired because it travels a thousand miles every night. How could it not get thinner?" "How can this be true?" cried the official in shock.

The Daoist explained, "Every night when you report for duty, your wife sneaks out of the house. If you don't believe me, come home one night while you are on duty and see for yourself." The official, very troubled by this news, thanked the Daoist and went home.

That very evening, the official returned from court and hid himself behind the curtains in the bedroom.

When the moon was high, the official saw his wife rise from bed. She ordered her maid to pin up her hair, rouge her cheeks and fetch her prettiest silk gown and slippers. Once she was done dressing, she asked her maid to saddle the horse and meet her by the front steps.

The official watched through the window as his wife mounted the horse and gradually rose into the sky, followed by her maid, who rode on a broom.

The official was terrified. The next morning, he ran back to the Daoist. "It’s true! My wife is bewitched! What can I do?" The Daoist closed his eyes and stroked his beard, deep in thought. In a moment, he opened them again. He pulled from his robe a red charm on a string and gave it to the official. “Wear this charm close to your heart,” the priest said. “Then the ghost cannot hurt you. Now go home and spy on your wife again.”

Bewitched_wife_page07_hiding in urn

The official did what he was told. That evening, he returned home from duty and hid himself behind a large urn in the hall.

It wasn't long before his wife came into the hall fully dressed and ready to leave. When she reached the urn where her husband was hiding, she sniffed the air suspiciously. "Why does it smell like magic in here?" she asked her maid. "Light the hall and search everywhere!" The maid, in a hurry to please her mistress, lit her broom as a torch and searched the room. The official panicked and climbed into the urn to hide.

Bewitched_wife_Party
After the hall was searched and no one was found, his wife gave up and decided to leave. Since her broom was burnt, the maid had nothing to ride on. "You don't need a broom to fly," the wife told her. "You can ride anything." The maid quickly rolled the urn out the front door and mounted it. Inside the urn, the official was too afraid to move. The maid on the urn and the wife on her horse soared high into the night sky, flying over villages, rivers, and mountains.
Bewitched_wife_Falling Down Mountain

When dawn was just breaking over the horizon, the wife and the maid were ready to leave.

The wife mounted her horse and told the maid to ride the urn. The maid, just as she was getting on, saw the terrified official inside. She cried out in surprise, "Hey, there's someone in here!" Luckily, the charm the official wore prevented him from being recognized. "Push him down the mountainside!" ordered the wife. The maid dumped the official out, rolled him down the mountain and left, riding on the urn.

Waiting until it was light, the official climbed back up to the clearing. He found no one and nothing left of the party but smoldering cinders and ash. He soon discovered a rugged trail along which he walked dozens of miles before he got off the mountain. He eventually reached a small village nestled in the foothills, where he was told he was a thousand miles or so from his hometown. After a difficult journey of over a month, he finally arrived home.

Bewitched_wife_page13_final
When he entered his home, he was greeted by the distraught maid. “Master, where have you been?” the maid wailed. “When you did not return, your wife was so upset she fell into a deep sleep and I haven’t been able to wake her!” The official rushed to his wife’s bedside. His wife lay sleeping, the silk blankets pulled high to her chin, her chest rising and falling in short gasping breaths. “I must find a way to help her!” the official thought.
Bewitched_wife_Meet the Hag

He rushed to the temple and told the Daoist the whole story. The old man sighed, “This is a very grave situation,” he said. “You must catch this ghost and get rid of it!” He gave the official another amulet, telling him to hang it outside the door of the bedroom and stand guard over his wife. The official returned home and ordered the maid to stay in her room and not come out. He sat by his wife’s bedside and waited for night to fall.

At about midnight, the official heard a shuffle outside the bedroom door. He looked through the door and saw a stooped old hag in the hall. When the hag saw the amulet on the door, she gnashed her teeth. “You want to frighten me! But don’t think I will give up so easily!” With that, she tore the amulet to pieces. “I’ll be back again!” she howled, before disappearing in a cloud of mist. The official was so afraid he did not close his eyes for the rest of the evening.

Bewitched_wife_Fight Hag

Early the next morning, he returned to the Daoist and told him the events of last night. After hearing the story, the Daoist said, “That vile ghost! She must be punished!” The Daoist returned with the official to his house. When he entered the bedroom of the sleeping wife, he looked around, sniffed the air, and said, “The ghost is very close. Who else lives in the house?” The official replied that in addition to himself, there was his wife and her maid along with several other servants.

The Daoist demanded that he speak to the maid, who was brought from her room shaking and frightened. “Has any one else come to the house?” asked the Daoist. “Yes,” said the maid. “A month ago an old woman came to us and offered her services as a servant. She was so thin and in such poor health, I felt sorry for her. I told her she could feed the chickens and collect the eggs. In return I would give her a few coins a week.” “Why, that must be the ghost!” exclaimed the Daoist.

He set out for the chicken hut, followed by the official and the maid. With a wooden sword in hand, the Daoist stood in the centre of the yard and shouted, “You horrid creature! Come out and show yourself!” The old hag rushed from the hut and tried to run away.

Bewitched_wife_hag in bottle
The Daoist caught up with her and swung his sword. The hag dropped to the ground, crying and squealing like a pig. The Daoist waved his sword over the hag, who turned into a thick column of white smoke, which spiraled up from the ground. The Daoist took a bottle from his robe and uncorked it. A sucking sound was heard and all the smoke was drawn into the bottle. The Daoist popped the cork on the bottle and put it inside his robe.
Bewitched_wife_happy again

“What about my wife?” asked the official. “Will she ever recover?” “Yes,” said the Daoist. “Wrap her in silk and bind her tight. Wait for her body to grow warm and then release her.” With that, the Daoist said goodbye and left the house, with the official thanking him again and again. The official took a long piece of silk and wrapped his wife tightly. Later, when he felt her body, he found it was slowly growing warm. He covered her with a quilt and waited. At midnight, he unwrapped her from the silk and found her breathing to be slow and steady. When daylight broke, his wife came to herself. “I was trapped in an awful nightmare,” she said, rubbing her eyes. “I have such a terrible headache!”

The official encouraged her to rest and in a few days she recovered completely. The official and his wife were never troubled by ghosts again.