The Demon Bird Named Luo Sha

During the reign of Emperor Yongzheng(雍正), a wealthy man in the capital arranged a marriage for his son. The bride’s family was also from a prestigious background, residing outside the Shahe Gate(沙河門).

As the bride rode in the bridal carriage, attendants and horses surrounded it. Passing by an ancient tomb, a fierce wind suddenly rose from the grave, swirling around the bridal carriage multiple times. The gusts of sand it raised made it impossible to keep one’s eyes open, causing pedestrians on the road to scatter. An hour later, the wind finally ceased. Soon after, the carriage arrived at the groom’s house and stopped in the hall. The bridesmaids lifted the curtain of the carriage, assisting the bride to step out. Unexpectedly, there was another bride inside the carriage, who opened the curtain herself, standing side by side with the first bride. Astonished, onlookers found it impossible to distinguish between the two brides—they wore identical clothes, makeup, and even shades of cosmetics. Thus, both brides were ushered into the inner chambers to meet the groom’s parents and relatives, who, upon seeing them, exchanged fearful glances, utterly perplexed.

The wedding proceeded. During the rituals of paying respects to heaven and earth, honoring ancestors, and greeting friends and relatives, the groom stood in the middle, with the two brides on either side. The groom, inwardly pleased, thought he was marrying one wife but ended up with a pair, much to his delight. As night fell and people dispersed, the groom retired to bed with the two brides, while the male and female servants retired to their rooms, and the elders went to sleep as well.

Suddenly, a harrowing scream echoed from the bridal chamber, startling everyone inside and outside the house. They rushed in, even the children, servants, and female relatives, all throwing open their doors to investigate. Blood covered the floor; the groom had collapsed beneath the bed. On the bed, one bride lay in a pool of blood, while the other’s whereabouts were unknown. Illuminating the room with a lamp, they noticed a large bird perched on a beam, with gray-black feathers, a sharp hooked beak, and enormous claws, all snow-white. People shouted and attempted to drive the bird away, but their efforts with swords and sticks fell short of reaching the bird on the beam. As they planned to use bows and spears to kill the bird, a flapping sound ensued, and the bird flew off, its eyes gleaming like phosphorescence, darting out through the door.

The groom, having fainted, woke and recounted, “The three of us sat together for an hour, preparing to undress and sleep. The bride on my left suddenly raised her sleeve and swiped in front of my face, gouging out both my eyes. I felt a sharp pain, blacked out, and didn’t know when she turned into a bird.” When questioned, the bride said, “When the groom screamed in pain, I asked him what had happened. That woman had turned into a strange bird and pecked at my eyes, leaving me unconscious.” Eventually, after several months of treatment, the couple recovered. Their love remained strong, but the loss of their sight was a tragic and pitiable outcome.

This story was told to me by Zhang Guangji(張君廣基) of the Zhenghuang Banner(正黃旗).

It is said that places with ruins and graves, steeped in yin energy over time, transform into a type of demon bird called the “LuoShaBird(羅剎鳥)” . Resembling a large heron, this bird has the ability to transform and has a penchant for eating human eyes. It is said to belong to the same category as fierce ghosts and demons such as the Yama King(藥叉), the Asura(脩羅), and the Bili ghost(薜荔類).

Translated from 《羅剎鳥》in 《子不語》:

雍正間,內城某為子娶媳,女家亦巨族,住沙河門外。新娘登轎,後騎從簇擁。過一古墓,有飆風從塚間出,繞花轎者數次。飛沙眯目,行人皆辟易,移時方定。頃之至婿家,轎停大廳上,嬪者揭簾扶新娘出。不料轎中復有一新娘掀幃自出,與先出者並肩立。眾驚視之,衣妝彩色,無一異者,莫辨真偽。扶入內室,翁姑相顧而駭,無可奈何,且行夫婦之禮。凡參天祭祖,謁見諸親,俱令新郎中立,兩新人左右之。新郎私念娶一得雙,大喜過望。夜闌,攜兩美同牀,僕婦侍女輩各歸寢室,翁姑亦就枕。忽聞新婦房中慘叫,披衣起,童僕婦女輩排闥入,則血淋漓滿地,新郎跌臥牀外,牀上一新娘仰臥血泊中,其一不知何往。張燈四照,梁上棲一大鳥,色灰黑而鉤喙巨爪如雪。眾喧呼奮擊,短兵不及。方議取弓矢長矛,鳥鼓翅作磔磔聲,目光如青磷,奪門飛去。新郎昏暈在地,云:「並坐移時,正思解衣就枕,忽左邊婦舉袖一揮,兩目睛被抉去矣,痛劇而絕,不知若何化鳥也。」再詢新婦,云:「郎叫絕時,兒驚問所以,渠已作怪鳥來啄兒目,兒亦頓時昏絕。」後療治數月,俱無恙,伉儷甚篤,而兩盲比目,可悲也。
正黃旗張君廣基為予述之如此。相傳墟墓間太陰,積尸之氣,久化為羅剎鳥,如灰鶴而大,能變幻作祟,好食人眼,亦藥叉、脩羅、薜荔類也。

🎨 《秉燭夜遊》馬麟, in the Song Dynasty

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