Two Jade Belts

The Tang Dynasty’s Chancellor, Duke Pei Du of Jin(裴度), was thin and small in stature, lacking the distinguished appearance that hindered his success in the realm of achievements and fame. Perplexed by this, he sought guidance.

Fortuitously, there was a renowned physiognomist in Luoyang, highly esteemed by scholars and officials. Pei Du purposely visited him, seeking insight into his fate. Upon scrutinizing Pei Du’s countenance, the physiognomist remarked, “Sir, your appearance exudes an extraordinary aura. It differs slightly from ordinary folks. If you do not attain a high-ranking position, you will face destitution. Though your esteemed status isn’t apparent now, return in a few days, and I shall examine more closely.” Pei Du agreed.

One day, while visiting the Xiangshan Temple, he strolled through its corridors and side rooms. Suddenly, he spotted a woman in plain clothing leaving behind a crimson undergarment on the temple’s railing, fervently praying and wishing for an extended period. After her gestures of reverence, she departed. Moments later, Pei Du noticed the garment still resting in its place, realizing the woman had forgotten it. Considering it futile to catch up and return it to her, he took it, planning to await her return to give it back.

As the sun set and the woman failed to return, Pei Du eventually returned to his inn. The following morning, he carried the garment back to the temple, arriving just as its gates opened. Observing the woman hurrying over, looking distressed and distraught, he noticed her disoriented state, as if some unforeseen calamity had befallen her.

Concerned, Pei Du approached and inquired about her distress. The woman explained, “My father, innocent of any crime, has been detained. Yesterday, a nobleman gave me two jade belts—one made of rhinoceros horn, worth over a thousand strings of cash—to bribe the authorities. Unfortunately, I lost them. Now, my elderly father faces imminent disaster.”

Moved by her plight, Pei Du meticulously questioned her about the items’ appearance, confirming their description. He then returned the garment to her. Tearfully grateful, the woman pleaded for Pei Du to accept one belt, but he kindly refused and bid her farewell with a smile.

Not long after, Pei Du revisited the physiognomist, recounting the recent events. Upon careful inspection, the physiognomist’s demeanor and tone changed dramatically, marveling, “This physiognomy surely indicates a convergence of positive karma towards you. Your future is boundless, beyond my foresight.” Pei Du divulged the recent incidents. True to the physiognomist’s prediction, Pei Du ascended to a high-ranking position.

Original story in 《摭言》:

唐中書令晉國公裴度,質狀眇小,相不入貴,屢屈名場,頗亦自惑。會有相工在洛中。大為搢紳所神。公特造之,問命,相工曰:「郎君形神,稍異於人,不入相。若不至貴,即當餓死。今則殊未見貴處,可別日垂訪,為君細看。」公然之。他日出遊香山寺,徘徊於廊廡間,忽見一素衣婦人,致緹褶於僧伽欄楯之上,祈祝良久,瞻拜而去。少頃,度方見緹褶在舊處,知其遺忘也,又料追付不及,遂收取,以待婦人再至,日暮竟不至,度挈歸逆旅。詰旦,復攜往,寺門始辟。覩昨日婦人。疾趨而至,憮聲惋嘆,若有非橫。度從而問之,婦人曰:「阿父無罪被系,昨貴人假得玉帶二犀帶一。直千餘緡。以賂津要,不幸失去於此。今老父不測之禍,無所逃矣。」度憮然,復細詰其物色,因而授之。婦人拜泣,請留其一,度笑而遣之。尋詣昔相者,相者審度,聲色頓異,驚嘆曰:「此必有陰德及物,前途萬裏,非某所知也。」度因以前事告之。度果位極人臣。出《摭言》

🎨 《新刊重訂出相附釋標註裴度香山還帶記》

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