The Hairy Man from Guandong

Guandong(關東) resident Xu Shangen(許善根) made a living by digging for ginseng roots(人參). According to the custom, ginseng diggers had to go up the mountains to dig only when it was late and quiet. One day, exhausted from traveling at night, Xu Shangen fell asleep on the sandy ground. When he woke up, he found himself being held by a hairy man. This hairy man stood about twenty feet tall, covered all over with red hair. The hairy man used his left hand to caress Xu Shangen’s body and rubbed Xu’s body against his own hair, as if playing with beads or precious stones. Every stroke and rub made the hairy man burst into wild laughter. Xu Shangen thought he was inevitably going to be eaten by this hairy man.

After a while, the hairy man carried Xu into a cave filled with tiger sinews, deer tails, ivory, and similar items, piled up like a mountain. The hairy man placed Xu Shangen on a stone bed and offered him tiger sinew and deer tail to eat. Xu Shangen was pleasantly surprised by the hairy man’s kindness, but he couldn’t bring himself to eat these raw items. The hairy man leaned forward, bowed his head as if contemplating something, then nodded as if he had come up with a solution. He struck a stone to make fire, fetched water, and boiled the tiger sinew and deer tail. After cooking, he invited Xu Shangen to eat, and Xu heartily consumed the meal.

When dawn arrived, the hairy man carried Xu Shangen out of the cave, carrying five arrows on his person, and climbed to the sheer cliff of a mountain. The hairy man tied Xu Shangen to the highest tree. Xu was terrified, thinking the hairy man was going to shoot him dead.

Shortly after, a group of tigers, attracted by the scent of a human, emerged from the cave and rushed to grab Xu Shangen. At that moment, the hairy man shot and killed the tigers with his arrows, then untied Xu and carried him along with the dead tigers back into the cave. The hairy man cooked the tiger meat for Xu to eat. Xu Shangen finally understood that the hairy man had been keeping him to lure and hunt tigers.

Over a month passed, Xu Shangen remained unharmed, while the hairy man became notably fat. One day, Xu Shangen wanted to return home. He knelt before the hairy man, crying and pleading, pointing continuously to the east. The hairy man, also teary-eyed, carried Xu Shangen back to the ginseng-collecting spot, showed him the direction home, and pointed out the places where ginseng grew on the mountain, as a gesture of repayment. From that moment on, Xu Shangen became prosperous.

Original text in《關東毛人以人為餌》 from 《子不語》:

關東人許善根,以掘人參為業。故事:掘參者須黑夜往掘。許夜行勞倦,宿沙上。及醒,其身為一長人所抱,身長二丈許,遍體紅毛。以左手撫許之身,又以許身摩擦其毛,如玩珠玉者。然每一摩撫,則狂笑不止。許自分將果其腹矣。俄而抱至一洞,虎筋、鹿尾、象牙之類,森森山積。置許石榻上,取虎鹿進而奉之。許喜出望外,然不能食也。長人俯而若有所思,既而點首若有所得,敲石為火,汲水焚鍋,為烹熟而進之。許大啖。黎明,長人復抱而出,身挾五矢,至絕壁之上,縛許於高樹。許復大駭,疑將射己。俄而,群虎聞生人氣,盡出穴,爭來搏許。長人抽矢斃虎,復解縛抱許,曳死虎而返,烹獻如故。許始心悟:長人養己以餌虎也。如是月餘,許無恙,而長人竟以大肥。

許一日思家,跪長人前涕泣再拜,以手指東方不已。長人亦潸然。復抱至採參處,示以歸路,并為歷指產參地,示相報意。許從此富矣。

🎨 an interesting part of 龔開 ‘s《中山出遊圖》

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