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》:


🎨 《無題》仇英

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