A Grave Mistake

Yan Song(嚴嵩), for his wife Ouyang(歐陽氏), selected a burial ground, summoning several dozen guests skilled in Feng Shui from among his followers. He addressed them, saying, ‘My wealth has reached its peak. What more could I desire? I only hope that you, sirs, will choose for me a piece of auspicious land so that my descendants may be as prosperous as I am. Then I shall be content.’ These guests readily agreed.

Within a month, one of them came forth and said, ‘There is a grave on a certain mountain. If you are buried there, Sir, your descendants will surely be wealthy and long-lived, just like you.’

Yan Song instructed these Feng Shui experts to inspect the site. One guest remarked, ‘Though the descendants buried here may indeed be wealthy, the vitality of this place is short-lived. At most, it will last for six or seven generations.’ Everyone concurred with this assessment.

Yan Song purchased this burial site. When they began excavating the grave, they discovered a tombstone already present within. After cleaning it off, they saw that it bore the epitaph of Yan Song’s seventh-generation ancestor. Yan Song was greatly alarmed and hastily sealed the grave, making a distinguishing mark. After this incident, the Yan Song family suddenly declined, eventually meeting a fate of losing all their possessions.

This account was narrated by Yan Song’s descendant, Yan Binglian(嚴秉璉).

Translated from 《介溪墳》in 《子不語》:


🎨 《槐蔭消夏圖》 Anonymous, in the Song Dynasty

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