The Matchmaking for Ghosts

In the southern part(南鄉) of Nanjing’s Jiangpu(江浦), there was a woman surnamed Zhang who married a man named Chen. Seven years later, her husband passed away, leaving Zhang a widow. Struggling to make ends meet, she remarried to another Zhang with the same surname. This second Zhang had also been widowed for seven years. The matchmaker considered this coincidence to be a heaven-sent match.

Unexpectedly, just half a month after their marriage, the ghost of Zhang’s former husband possessed her and exclaimed, “You lack conscience! How could you remarry instead of observing mourning for me, and to someone so useless and foolish?” He even slapped himself. Zhang’s new family burned paper money for her late husband and tried to console her repeatedly, but she remained fiercely upset.

A few days later, the ghost of Zhang’s second husband’s deceased wife possessed him, scolding, “You are heartless! Your mind only knows of new relationships, oblivious to the old ones.” She, too, struck herself. The entire household was terrified and unsure of what to do.

At that moment, Qin, who had been the matchmaker, half-jokingly and half-seriously remarked, “Since I’ve matched living people before, why not play matchmaker for these two ghosts today? Chen is here demanding his wife, and Zhang’s former wife is here demanding her husband. Why don’t you two reconcile and leave? This way, you won’t be lonely in the afterlife, and the living couples in the mortal world can live in peace. No need for such chaos here!” Zhang blushed and said, “I also had this thought, but I’m not attractive. I wonder if Chen would accept me. I feel embarrassed to ask myself, so since you have this kind intention, could you speak on my behalf?” Qin mediated between the ghosts attached to both individuals, and they both agreed. Zhang suddenly smiled and said, “This is great, but even though we’re ghosts, we shouldn’t be casual. We don’t want other spirits to look down on us. You, as the matchmaker, must arrange attendants made of paper for us, prepare musical instruments, set up tables for a wedding feast, and let us hold a wedding ceremony. After that, you can leave, and we’ll return to the afterlife.” Zhang’s family followed his instructions.

From then on, Zhang and Zhang lived peacefully. This incident became a popular tale in Nanxiang, saying that someone in a certain village had acted as a matchmaker for ghosts, and a family had united with the help of spirits.

Translated from 《替鬼做媒》 in 《子不語》:

江浦南鄉有女張氏,嫁陳某,七年而寡,日食不周,改適張姓。張亦喪妻七年,作媒者以為天緣巧合。婚甫半月,張之前夫附魂妻身曰:「汝太無良!竟不替我守節,轉嫁庸奴!」以手自批其頰。張家人為燒紙錢,再三勸慰,作厲如故。未幾,張之前妻又附魂於其夫之身,罵曰:「汝太薄情!但知有新人,不知有舊人!」亦以手自擊撞。舉家驚惶。
適其時原作媒者秦某在旁,戲曰:「我從前既替活人作媒,我今日何妨替死鬼作媒。陳某既在此索妻,汝又在此索夫,何不彼此交配而退;則陰間不寂寞,而兩家活夫妻亦平安矣。何必在此吵鬧耶?」張面作羞縮狀,曰:「我亦有此意,但我貌醜,未知陳某肯要我否?我不便自言。先生既有此好意,即求先生一說,何如?」秦乃向兩處通陳,俱唯唯。忽又笑曰:「此事極好,但我輩雖鬼,不可野合,為群鬼所輕。必須媒人替我剪紙人作輿從,具鑼鼓音樂,擺酒席,送合歡杯,使男女二人成禮而退,我輩才去。」張家如其言,從此,兩人之身安然無恙。鄉鄰哄傳某村替鬼做媒,替鬼做親。

🎨 《無題》仇英

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