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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

All dwellers upon earth who on the 8th day of the 3rd moon


discontented ones who rail against Heaven and revile Earth, who are always finding fault either with the wind, thunder, heat, cold, fine weather or rain; those who let their tears fall towards the north;[377] who steal the gold from the inside[378] or scrape the gilding from the outside of images; those who take holy names in vain, who shew no respect for written paper, who throw down dirt and rubbish near pagodas or temples, who use dirty cook-houses and stoves for preparing the sacrificial meats, who do not abstain from eating beef and dog-flesh;[379] those who have in their possession blasphemous or obscene books and do not destroy them, who obliterate or tear books which teach man to be good, who carve on common articles of household use the symbol of the origin of all things,[380] the Sun and Moon and Seven Stars, the Royal Mother and the God of Longevity on the same article,[381] or representations of any of the Immortals; those who embroider the Svastika[382] on fancy work, or mark characters on silk, satin, or cloth, on banners, beds, chairs, tables, or any kind of utensil; those who secretly wear clothes adorned with the dragon and the phoenix[383] only to be trampled under foot, who buy up grain and hold until the price is exorbitantly high--all these shall be thrust into the great and noisy Gehenna, there to be examined as to their misdeeds and passed accordingly into one of the sixteen wards, whence, at the expiration of their time, they will be sent for further questioning
on to the Seventh Court.

All dwellers upon earth who on the 8th day of the 3rd moon, fasting, register a vow from that date to sin no more, and, on the 14th and 15th of the 5th moon, the 3rd of the 8th moon, and the 10th of the 10th moon, to practise abstinence, vowing moreover to exert themselves to convert others,--these shall escape the bitterness of all the above-mentioned wards.


His Infernal Majesty, T'ai Shan, reigns at the bottom of the great Ocean, away to the north-west, below the Wu-chiao rock. His is a vast, noisy Court, measuring many leagues in circumference and subdivided into sixteen wards, as follows:--

In the first, the wicked souls are made to swallow their own blood. In the second, their legs are pierced and thrust into a fiery pit. In the third, their chests are cut open. In the fourth, their hair is torn out with iron combs. In the fifth, they are gnawed by dogs. In the sixth, great stones are placed on their heads. In the seventh, their skulls are pierced. In the eighth, they wear fiery clothes. In the ninth, their skin is torn and pulled by pigs. In the tenth, they are pecked by huge birds. In the eleventh, they are hung up and beaten on the feet. In the twelfth, their tongues are pulled out and their jaws bored. In the thirteenth, they are disembowelled. In the fourteenth, they are trampled on by mules and bitten by badgers. In the fifteenth, their fingers are ironed with hot irons. In the sixteenth, they are boiled in oil.

All mortals who practise eating red lead[384] and certain other nauseous articles,[385] who spend more than they should upon wine, who kidnap human beings for sale, who steal clothes and ornaments from coffins, who break up dead men's bones for medicine, who separate people from their relatives, who sell the girl brought up in the house to be their son's wife, who allow their wives[386] to drown female children, who stifle their illegitimate offspring, who unite to cheat another in gambling, who act as tutors without being properly strict, and thus wrong their pupils, who beat and injure their slaves without estimating the punishment by the fault, who regard districts entrusted to their charge in the light of so much spoil, who disobey their elders, who talk at random and go back on their word, who stir up others to quarrel and fight--all these shall, upon verification of their sins, be taken from the great Gehenna and passed through the proper wards, to be forwarded when their time has expired to the Eighth Court, again to be tortured according to their deserts.

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