Du Lanxiang and Zhang Chuan: A Tale of Celestial Romance in the Han Dynasty

A story of Du Lanxiang's visits to Zhang Chuan, their poetic exchanges, and her mysterious gifts in the Han Dynasty.

In the Han Dynasty, there was a person named Du Lanxiang, who claimed to be from the Nan Kang region. In the spring of the fourth year of the Jianxing era during the reign of the later Han Emperor, she visited Zhang Chuan multiple times. At that time, Zhang Chuan was only seventeen years old. When he saw her carriage outside the main gate, a maidservant came to announce, “My mother gave birth to me and sent me here to marry you. How can I not obey her command?” Zhang Chuan, who had once changed his name to Zhang Shuo, called Du Lanxiang forward to look at her. She appeared to be around sixteen or seventeen years old, and the matters she spoke of seemed to be from a distant past. She had two maidservants, the older one named Xuanzhi and the younger one named Songzhi. They rode in a golden carriage pulled by a blue ox, and everything they needed for eating and drinking was prepared. She composed a poem, saying, “My mother resides on Ling Mountain, wandering among the clouds from time to time. Numerous maids hold feather banners, yet we haven’t reached the Immortal Palace outside. Drifting in a chariot, she sent me here. Could it be that she despises the impurities of the mortal world? Sharing a life of fortune and longevity with me, if she were to dislike misfortune befalling me.” One early morning in August of that year, she came again and composed a poem, saying, “Originally, I was carefree in the Milky Way, but I arrived at the Nine Mountain Peaks in the blink of an eye. You linger in the unpredictable mortal world, so why not cross the Weaker Water and become an immortal?” She took out three mountain yams, each the size of a chicken egg, and said, “Eating them will make you immune to storms and prevent cold and heat illnesses.” Zhang Shuo ate two of them and wanted to keep one, but she disagreed and made him eat all of them, saying, “I was originally meant to be your wife, and our feelings will not grow distant. However, due to our differing astrological destinies, I’m afraid of minor disharmonies. When the Year God is in the east during the Mao sign, I will definitely come back to find you.” When Du Lanxiang arrived, Zhang Shuo asked, “What about prayers and sacrifices?” Du Lanxiang said, “Exorcising demons can cure illnesses; too many sacrifices are of no benefit.” Du Lanxiang referred to the yams as exorcising demons.

《杜兰香与张传》

汉时有杜兰香者,自称南康人氏。以建兴四年春,数诣张传。传年十七,望见其车在门外,婢通言:“阿母所生,遣授配君,可不敬从?”传,先改名硕,硕呼女前,视,可十六七,说事邈然久远。有婢子二人:大者萱支,小者松支。钿车青牛,上饮食皆备。作诗曰:“阿母处灵岳,时游云霄际。众女侍羽仪,不出墉宫外。飘轮送我来,岂复耻尘秽。从我与福俱,嫌我与祸会。”至其年八月旦,复来,作诗曰:“逍遥云汉间,呼吸发九嶷。流汝不稽路,弱水何不之。”出薯蓣子三枚,大如鸡子,云:“食此,令君不畏风波,辟寒温。”硕食二枚,欲留一,不肯,令硕食尽。言:“本为君作妻,情无旷远。以年命未合,其小乖。太岁东方卯,当还求君。”兰香降时,硕问:“祷祀何如?”香曰:“消魔自可愈疾,淫祀无益。”香以药为消魔。

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