In the time of Emperor Xuan of Han, a black-covered carriage with a phoenix design was bestowed upon the Grand General Huo Guang, complete with golden fittings. One night, the golden phoenix on the carriage’s shafts would often fly away, its whereabouts unknown, only to return at dawn. This occurrence was not a singular event, as the carriage attendants had also witnessed it. Later, a nobleman from NanJun named Huang Junzhong captured a wild phoenix on North Mountain. Upon seizing it, the phoenix instantly transformed into purple gold, with feathers, crown, and wings fully formed, measuring more than a foot long. The carriage attendants reported, “On the twelfth night of this month, the phoenix on the carriage shafts always flies away, returning at dawn. But now, it has not returned, and we fear it may have been captured by someone.” Huo Guang found this extremely unusual and reported it with a detailed account.
Several days later, Junzhong presented the phoenix offspring at the imperial court, saying, “On the twelfth night of this month, this phoenix was obtained on North Mountain.” The Emperor, hearing this, was skeptical and placed it on a crystal tray. Shortly thereafter, it flew away. The Emperor ordered a search, and it went straight to Huo Guang’s residence, stopping on the carriage shafts, confirming the truth of the matter. The Emperor took possession of the carriage and used it on his excursions. However, when the Emperor passed away, the phoenix flew away again, and its whereabouts remained unknown. As the poet Ji Kang wrote, “Graceful and elegant on the carriage shafts, it falls into this net of intrigue.”
Original story in 《齊諧記》:漢宣帝以皂蓋車一乘，賜大將軍霍光，悉以金鉸具。至夜，車轄上金鳳凰輒亡去，莫知所之，至曉乃還。如此非一。守車人亦嘗見。後南郡黃君仲北山羅鳥，得鳳凰，入手即化成紫金，毛羽冠翅，宛然具足，可長尺餘。守車人列上云：「今月十二曰夜，車轄上鳳凰俱飛去，曉則俱還。今則不返，恐為人所得。」光甚異之，具以列上。後數曰，君仲詣闕上鳳凰子，云：「今月十二夜，北山羅鳥所得。」帝聞而疑之，置承露盤上，俄而飛去。帝使尋之，直入光家，止車轄上，乃知信然。帝取其車，每遊行，即乘御之。至帝崩，鳳凰飛去，莫知所在。嵇康詩云：「翩翩鳳轄，逢此網羅。」