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Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn


page 1 of 4 | Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

Some Chinese Ghosts by Lafcadio Hearn

ABHIDHARMA.--The metaphysics of Buddhism. Buddhist literature is classed into three great divisions, or "baskets"; the highest of these is the Abhidharma.... According to a passage in Spence Hardy's "Manual of Buddhism," the full comprehension of the Abhidharma is possible only for a Buddha to acquire.

CHIH.--"House"; but especially the house of the dead,--a tomb.

CHU-SHA-KIH.--The mandarin-orange.

ÇRAMANA.--An ascetic; one who has subdued his senses. For an interesting history of this term, see Burnouf,--"Introduction à l'histoire du Buddhisme Indien."

DAMÂRI.--A peculiar chant, of somewhat licentious character, most commonly sung during the period of the Indian carnival. For an account, at once brief and entertaining, of Hindoo popular songs and hymns, see Garcin de Tassy,--"Chants populaires de l'Inde."

DOGS OF FO.--The _Dog of Fo_ is one of those fabulous monsters in the sculptural representation of which Chinese art has found its most grotesque expression. It is really an exaggerated lion; and the symbolical relation of the lion to Buddhism is well known. Statues of these mythical animals--sometimes of a grandiose and colossal execution--are placed in pairs before the entrances of temples, palaces, and tombs, as tokens of honor, and as emblems of divine protection.

FO.--Buddha is called _Fo_, _Fuh_, _Fuh-tu_, _Hwut_, _Fat_, in various Chinese dialects. The name is thought to be a corruption of the Hindoo _Bodh_, or "Truth," due to the imperfect articulation of the Chinese.... It is a curious fact that the Chinese Buddhist liturgy is Sanscrit transliterated into Chinese characters, and that the priests have lost all recollection of the antique tongue,--repeating the texts without the least comprehension of their meaning.

FUH-YIN.--An official holding in Chinese cities a position corresponding to that of mayor in the Occident.

FUNG-HOANG.--This allegorical bird, corresponding to the Arabian phoenix in some respects, is described as being five cubits high, having feathers of five different colors, and singing in five modulations.... The female is said to sing in imperfect tones; the male in perfect tones. The _fung-hoang_ figures largely in Chinese musical myths and legends.

GOPIA (or GOPIS).--Daughters and wives of the cowherds of Vrindavana, among whom Krishna was brought up after his incarnation as the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Krishna's amours with the shepherdesses, or Gopia, form the subject of various celebrated mystical writings, especially the _Prem-Ságar_, or "Ocean of Love" (translated by Eastwick and by others); and the sensuous _Gita-Govinda_ of the Bengalese lyric poet Jayadeva (translated into French prose by Hippolyte Fauche, and chastely rendered into English verse by Edwin Arnold in the "Indian Song of Songs"). See also Burnouf's partial translation of the _Bhagavata Parana_, and Théodore Pavie's "Krichna et sa doctrine." ... The same theme has inspired some of the strangest productions of Hindoo art: for examples, see plates 65 and 66 of Moor's "Hindoo Pantheon" (edition of 1861). For accounts of the erotic mysticism connected with the worship of Krishna and the Gopia, the reader may also be referred to authorities cited in Barth's "Religions of India"; De Tassy's "Chants populaires de l'Inde"; and Lamairesse's "Poésies populaires du Sud de l'Inde."

HAO-KHIEOU-TCHOUAN.--This celebrated Chinese novel was translated into French by M. Guillard d'Arcy in 1842, and appeared under the title, "Hao-Khieou-Tchouan; ou, La Femme Accomplie." The first translation of the romance into any European tongue was a Portuguese rendering; and the English version of Percy is based upon the Portuguese text. The work is rich in poetical quotations.

HEÏ-SONG-CHÉ-TCHOO.--"One day when the Emperor Hiuan-tsong of the Thang dynasty," says the _Tao-kia-ping-yu-che_, "was at work in his study, a tiny Taoist priest, no bigger than a fly, rose out of the inkstand lying upon his table, and said to him: 'I am the Genius of ink; my name is Heï-song-ché-tchoo [_Envoy of the Black Fir_]; and I have come to tell you that whenever a true sage shall sit down to write, the Twelve Divinities of Ink [_Long-pinn_] will appear upon the surface of the ink he uses.'" See "L'Encre de Chine," by Maurice Jametel. Paris. 1882.