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》：