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Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

The Tale of the Porcelain-God

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Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

Also the _Ko-yao_,--fourth in rank among perfect porcelains,--of fair, faint, changing colors, like the body of a living fish, or made in the likeness of opal substance, milk mixed with fire; the work of Sing-I, elder of the immortal brothers Tchang;

Also the _Ting-yao_,--fifth in rank among all perfect porcelains,--white as the mourning garments of a spouse bereaved, and beautiful with a trickling as of tears,--the porcelains sung of by the poet Son-tong-po;

Also the porcelains called _Pi-se-yao_, whose colors are called "hidden," being alternately invisible and visible, like the tints of ice beneath the sun,--the porcelains celebrated by the far-famed singer Sin-in;

Also the wondrous _Chu-yao_,--the pallid porcelains that utter a mournful cry when smitten,--the porcelains chanted of by the mighty chanter, Thou-chao-ling;

Also the porcelains called _Thsin-yao_, white or blue, surface-wrinkled as the face of water by the fluttering of many fins.... And ye can see the fish!

Also the vases called _Tsi-hong-khi_, red as sunset after a rain; and the _T'o-t'ai-khi_, fragile as the wings of the silkworm-moth, lighter than the shell of an egg;

Also the _Kia-tsing_,--fair cups pearl-white when empty, yet, by some incomprehensible witchcraft of construction, seeming to swarm with purple fish the moment they are filled with water;

Also the porcelains called _Yao-pien_, whose tints are transmuted by the alchemy of fire; for they enter blood-crimson into the heat, and change there to lizard-green, and at last come forth azure as the cheek of the sky;

Also the _Ki-tcheou-yao_, which are all violet as a summer's night; and the _Hing-yao_ that sparkle with the sparklings of mingled silver and snow;

Also the _Sieouen-yao_,--some ruddy as iron in the furnace, some diaphanous and ruby-red, some granulated and yellow as the rind of an orange, some softly flushed as the skin of a peach;

Also the _Tsoui-khi-yao_, crackled and green as ancient ice is; and the _Tchou-fou-yao_, which are the Porcelains of Emperors, with dragons wriggling and snarling in gold; and those _yao_ that are pink-ribbed and have their angles serrated as the claws of crabs are;

Also the _Ou-ni-yao_, black as the pupil of the eye, and as lustrous; and the _Hou-tien-yao_, darkly yellow as the faces of men of India; and the _Ou-kong-yao_, whose color is the dead-gold of autumn-leaves;

Also the _Long-kang-yao_, green as the seedling of a pea, but bearing also paintings of sun-silvered cloud, and of the Dragons of Heaven;

Also the _Tching-hoa-yao_,--pictured with the amber bloom of grapes and the verdure of vine-leaves and the blossoming of poppies, or decorated in relief with figures of fighting crickets;

Also the _Khang-hi-nien-ts'ang-yao_, celestial azure sown with star-dust of gold; and the _Khien-long-nien-thang-yao_, splendid in sable and silver as a fervid night that is flashed with lightnings.

Not indeed the _Long-Ouang-yao_,--painted with the lascivious _Pi-hi_, with the obscene _Nan-niu-ssť-sie_, with the shameful _Tchun-hoa_, or "Pictures of Spring"; abominations created by command of the wicked Emperor Moutsong, though the Spirit of the Furnace hid his face and fled away;

But all other vases of startling form and substance, magically articulated, and ornamented with figures in relief, in cameo, in transparency,--the vases with orifices belled like the cups of flowers, or cleft like the bills of birds, or fanged like the jaws of serpents, or pink-lipped as the mouth of a girl; the vases flesh-colored and purple-veined and dimpled, with ears and with earrings; the vases in likeness of mushrooms, of lotos-flowers, of lizards, of horse-footed dragons woman-faced; the vases strangely translucid, that simulate the white glimmering of grains of prepared rice, that counterfeit the vapory lace-work of frost, that imitate the efflorescences of coral;--

Also the statues in porcelain of divinities: the Genius of the Hearth; the Long-pinn who are the Twelve Deities of Ink; the blessed Lao-tseu, born with silver hair; Kong-fu-tse, grasping the scroll of written wisdom; Kouan-in, sweetest Goddess of Mercy, standing snowy-footed upon the heart of her golden lily; Chi-nong, the god who taught men how to cook; Fo, with long eyes closed in meditation, and lips smiling the mysterious smile of Supreme Beatitude; Cheou-lao, god of Longevity, bestriding his aŽrial steed, the white-winged stork; Pou-t'ai, Lord of Contentment and of Wealth, obese and dreamy; and that fairest Goddess of Talent, from whose beneficent hands eternally streams the iridescent rain of pearls.