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》:
🎨 《秉燭夜遊》馬麟, in the Song Dynasty