Officialdom Addiction

Legend has it that during the late Ming Dynasty, a magistrate in Nanyang Prefecture(南陽府) died within his office. Since then, his ghost lingered, appearing at dawn, wearing a black gauze hat and an official belt, rushing to sit at the southern end of the hall. When attendants bowed to him, he nodded in approval, mimicking acceptance of their respects. He would vanish only when the day fully dawned.

During the reign of Emperor Yongzheng(雍正), a new magistrate, Magistrate Qiao(太守喬公), took office and upon hearing of this, couldn’t help but laugh, saying, “This person must have an addiction to his official position. Even though he died long ago, he doesn’t seem to realize his own death. I’ll make it clear to him.” Therefore, before dawn the next day, Magistrate Qiao wore official attire and hat, taking his place in the hall, facing the southern end. As the time for court approached, a figure wearing a black gauze hat approached from afar. Seeing someone already seated in the hall, he hesitated and did not dare to advance. Soon after, he sighed heavily and vanished. Since then, the eerie phenomenon of the ghost appearing in court never occurred again.

Translated from 《官癖》 in 《子不語》:

相傳南陽府有明季太守某歿於署中,自後其靈不散,每至黎明發點時,必烏紗束帶上堂南向坐,有吏役叩頭,猶能頷之作受拜狀。日光大明,始不復見。雍正間,太守喬公到任,聞其事,笑曰:「此有官癖者也,身雖死,不自知其死故耳。我當有以曉之。」乃未黎明即朝衣冠,先上堂南向坐。至發點時,烏紗者遠遠來,見堂上已有人占坐,不覺趑趄不前,長吁一聲而逝。自此怪絕。

🎨 《墨蘭圖》鄭思肖

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