Lu Xun’s Ghosts 無常、女吊

該內容僅提供英文版。 For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

This section starts with two passages from the writer Lu Xun (魯迅, 1881-1936) on the subject of ghosts, death and revenge.

Gloria Davies has kindly given permission for us to reproduce here her discussion of Lu Xun’s essay-memoirs ‘Wu Chang or Life-is-Transient’ 無常 (1926) and ‘The Hanged Woman’ 女吊 (1936) from her Lu Xun’s Revolution: Writing in a Time of ViolenceCambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. The original texts of both essays are also appended below; for English translations, see Lu Xun: Selected Works, trans. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1980, vol.1, pp.380-388 and 433-440 respectively.

— The Editor, China Heritage 


Lu Xun in death.

Not Hell

Presumably our great country is not hell, yet ‘the mind creates its own kingdom’, and before me I always see banks of louring clouds packed with old ghosts and new ghosts, wandering spirits, ox-headed monsters, beasts, transformations, loud wails and silent lamentations, which I find it hard to bear. To deceive myself, I pretend to hear and see nothing, and make believe that I am not in hell. 華夏大概並非地獄,然而「境由心造」,我眼前總充塞著重迭的黑雲,其中有故鬼,新鬼,遊魂,牛首阿旁,畜生,化生,大叫喚,無叫喚,使我不堪聞見。我裝作無所聞見模樣,以圖欺騙自己,總算已從地獄中出離。

Lu Xun, ‘After “Knocking Against the Wall” ‘, 1926,
trans. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang.

On Death

As everyone knows, we Chinese believe in ghosts (more recently called ‘souls’ or ‘spirits’) and since there are ghosts, after death we can at least exist as ghosts if not as men, which is better than nothing. But the imagined duration of this ghostly existence seems to vary according to one’s wealth. The poor appear to believe that when they die their souls will pass into another body, an idea derived from Buddhism. Of course, transmigration in Buddhism is a complicated process, by no means so simple; but the poor are usually ignorant people who do no know this. That is why criminals condemned to death often show no fear when taken to the execution ground, but shout, ‘Twenty years from now I shall be a stout fellow again!’ Moreover, according to popular belief a ghost wears the clothes he had on at the time of death; and since the poor have no good clothes and cannot therefore cut a fine figure as ghosts, it is far better for them to be reborn at once as naked babies. Did you ever see a new-born infant wearing a beggar’s rags or a swimming-suit? No, never. Very well, then, that is a fresh start. Someone may object: If you believe in transmigration, in the next existence you may even be worse off or actually become a beast — what a fearful thought! But the poor don’t seem to think that way. They firmly believe that they have not committed sins frightful enough to condemn them to becoming beasts: they have not had the position, power or money to commit such sins. 誰都知道,我們中國人是相信有鬼(近時或謂之「靈魂」)的,既有鬼,則死掉之後,雖然已不是人,卻還不失為鬼,總還不算是一無所有。不過設想中的做鬼的久暫,卻因其人的生前的貧富而不同。窮人們是大抵以為死後就去輪回的,根源出於佛教。佛教所說的輪回,當然手續繁重,並不這麼簡單,但窮人往往無學,所以不明白。這就是使死罪犯人綁赴法場時,大叫「二十年後又是一條好漢」,面無懼色的原因。況且相傳鬼的衣服,是和臨終時一樣的,窮人無好衣裳,做了鬼也決不怎麼體面,實在遠不如立刻投胎,化為赤條條的嬰兒的上算。我們曾見誰家生了小孩,胎里就穿著叫化子或是游泳家的衣服的麼?從來沒有。這就好,從新來過。也許有人要問,既然相信輪回,那就說不定來生會墮入更窮苦的景況,或者簡直是畜生道,更加可怕了。但我看他們是並不這樣想的,他們確信自己並未造出該入畜生道的罪孽,他們從來沒有能墮畜生道的地位,權勢和金錢。

But neither do those men with position, power and money believe that they should become beasts. They either turn Buddhist in order to become saints, or advocate the study of the Confucian classics and a return to ancient ways in order to become Confucian sages. Just as in life they expect to be a privileged class, after death they expect to be exempt from transmigration. As for those who have a little money, though they also believe they should be exempt from transmigration, since they have no high ambitions or lofty plans they just wait placidly. Round about the age of fifty, they look for a burial place, buy a coffin, and burn paper money to open a bank account in the nether regions, expecting their sons and grandsons to sacrifice to them every year. This is surely much pleasanter than life on earth. If I were a ghost now, with filial descendants in the world of men, I would not have to sell my articles one by one, or ask the Beixin Publishing House for payment. I could simply lie at was in my cedarwood or fir coffin, while at every festival and at New Year a fine feast and a pile of banknotes would be placed before me. That would be the life! 然而有著地位,權勢和金錢的人,卻又並不覺得該墮畜生道;他們倒一面化為居士,準備成佛,一面自然也主張讀經復古,兼做聖賢。他們像活著時候的超出人理一樣,自以為死後也超出了輪回的。至於小有金錢的人,則雖然也不覺得該受輪回,但此外也別無雄才大略,只豫備安心做鬼。所以年紀一到五十上下,就給自己尋葬地,合壽材,又燒紙錠,先在冥中存儲,生下子孫,每年可吃羹飯。這實在比做人還享福。假使我現在已經是鬼,在陽間又有好子孫,那麼,又何必零星賣稿,或向北新書局去算賬呢,只要很閒適的躺在楠木或陰沈木的棺材里,逢年逢節,就自有一桌盛饌和一堆國幣擺在眼前了,豈不快哉!

Generally speaking, unlike the very rich and great, who are not bound by the laws of the nether regions, the poor would like to be reborn at once, while those comfortably-0ff would like to remain as ghosts for as long as possible. The comfortably-off are willing to remain ghosts because their life as ghosts (this sounds paradoxical but I can think of no better way of expressing it) is the continuation of their life on earth and they are not yet tired of it. Of course there are rulers in the nether regions who are extremely strict and just; but they will make allowances for these ghosts and accept presents from them too, just like good officials on earth. 就大體而言,除極富貴者和冥律無關外,大抵窮人利於立即投胎,小康者利於長久做鬼。小康者的甘心做鬼,是因為鬼的生活(這兩字大有語病,但我想不出適當的名詞來),就是他還未過厭的人的生活的連續。陰間當然也有主宰者,而且極其嚴厲,公平,但對於他獨獨頗肯通融,也會收點禮物,恰如人間的好官一樣。

— Lu Xun, ‘Death’, 1936,
trans. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang.


Lu Xun’s drawing of Wu Chang, Life-is-Transient.

A Specter of Justice

Gloria Davies

In 1926 Lu Xun wrote the essay ‘Wu Chang: Life-Is-Transient’ 無常 to commemorate one of Shaoxing’s guardian spirits of the underworld as a particularly fond childhood memory. In recalling Wu Chang as an integral part of the street operas and temple fairs he attended as a young boy in [his hometown of] Shaoxing 紹興, Lu Xun explained that the very name Wu Chang — meaning ‘impermanence’ or ‘transience’ — exemplified the creative powers of the so-called lower classes 下等人 in conjuring up a powerful image of mortal finitude. More importantly, he wrote, in Wu Chang’s literal embodiment of the idea that ‘life- is-transient’, the masses afforded themselves a consoling prospect of the afterlife as the realm of true justice, insofar as this summoner of the newly dead did not discriminate between rich and poor. In this context, Lu Xun quoted mockingly from his adversary Chen Yuan to highlight a contrast between ordinary and elite sensibilities:

The ‘lower classes’ are simply incapable of producing a febrile witticism such as this: ‘At present, it is a narrow and perilous track that we travel. To our left there’s a barren and boundless marshland; to our right there’s an equally barren and boundless desert, while far ahead, shrouded in distant and infinite mists, lies our destination.’ Nonetheless they have an intuitive and clear understanding of the road that takes us to our destination ‘far ahead, shrouded in distant and infinite mists’: namely, seeking marriage, getting married, raising children, and dying… .

Most of them — and I’m referring here to the ‘lower classes’ of my unworthy county — have lived and suffered; they have been slandered and falsely accused. Over time, the accumulation of these experiences has given them the knowledge that, in the world of the living, the means for upholding ‘universal law’ is left up to a single assembly of people, and, as they see it, that assembly is inaccessibly ‘distant and infinite’. This is why they can’t help feeling pulled toward the apparitions of the nether world. Most people consider themselves to have suffered some form or other of injustice. As for the ‘cultivated men of virtue’ who live among us, they can hoodwink only the most gullible. If you ask the ignorant masses, they will tell you without any pretense to cogitation: True justice is delivered only in the nether world!

When you think of life’s happier aspects, you clearly feel you want to go on living, but when you contemplate the bitter side of life, Wu Chang’s visit may not be so unwelcome and fearsome. Whether high or low, rich or poor, we invariably appear ’empty- handed’ before Yama, King of the Underworld. Those who were wronged will be rewarded and those who wronged others will be punished… . Wu Chang holds a huge abacus in his hand, and you can strike any number of venal poses but to no avail.

Lu Xun completed ‘Wu Chang: Life-Is-Transient’ on 23 June 1926, six months before his arrival in revolutionary Guangzhou and ten months before Chiang Kai-shek’s purge of the Communists brought the [national political] ‘united front’ to an abrupt end. This was a time of heightened enthusiasm for mass politics among intellectuals. Unwilling to hail revolution as the panacea to social ills, Lu Xun instead privileged the ordinary person’s sensibility to justice.

Toward the end of ‘Wu Chang’, he described the ritual enactments of this summoner of souls as projecting a personality that was ‘ghostly yet human; principled but not without feeling; scary yet loveable.’ He noted that whereas the Wu Chang of the opera stage spoke scripted lines, the Wu Chang impersonator of the temple fair was silent. His role was to trail behind a jester who carried a plate of food, the implication being that although Wu Chang wanted to eat, the jester denied him the food. Of this ritual scene of ‘Farewelling Wu Chang’ during the temple fair, Lu Xun wrote that it conveyed the ludic nature of local funerals: that the requirement to prepare a feast for Wu Chang affirmed a common humanity:

Everyone likes teasing Wu Chang because he is so straightforward, likes a good debate, and has human feelings.

Eight years later, in his 1934 essay ‘Discussing Writing from the Outside’ 門外文談, Lu Xun summoned Wu Chang once more. In 1926, he had quoted the following lines, assigned to Wu Chang on the street-opera stage, as emblematic of the impartial justice delivered by the summoner of souls:

Never again will anyone be let off the hook!
Don’t think you can shield yourself behind a wall of bronze or iron!
Don’t think that being related to the emperor protects you!

In both 1926 and 1934, Lu Xun pointed out that Wu Chang of the opera stage uttered these lines in response to the punishment he received from Yama. This was a popular scene in the epic of the Buddhist saint Maudgalyayana’s descent into the underworld to rescue his mother. Out of pity for his young nephew’s grieving mother, Wu Chang had allowed the boy, newly dead from an incurable illness, to live on for ‘a brief moment’. For this dereliction of his duties, and suspecting Wu Chang of having accepted a bribe, Yama ordered the summoner of souls to be tied up and given forty lashes. In 1926, Lu Xun wrote that Wu Chang’s declared resolve never again to show leniency reminded him of the self- assuaging remark from the Zhuangzi: ‘Despite a troubled heart, one does not blame the whims of Fate.’

In 1934, he repeated the same lines from ‘Wu Chang’ to exclaim: ‘Can our writers produce literature so human, so conscience- stricken, so law- abiding, and so resolute?’ This evocation of humanism as empathy, forbearance, and justice held together in delicate balance underlines the importance Lu Xun placed on self-accountability in advocating baihua 白話 [vernacular Chinese]. As the title, ‘Discussing Writing from the Outside’, makes plain, he was an ‘insider’ willfully positioning himself on ‘the outside’ to announce the obsolescence of elite wenyan 文言 [literary Chinese], the written language that constituted his very being. In reading Wu Chang as the property of illiterate ‘outsiders’, he imparted to their spoken language an authenticity and dignity he saw as lacking among the elite initiates of written Chinese.

— Gloria Davies, Lu Xun’s Revolution, pp.290-293.

 ***

無常

迎神賽會這一天出巡的神,如果是掌握生殺之權的,——不,這生殺之權四個字不大妥,凡是神,在中國仿佛都有些隨意殺人的權柄似的,倒不如說是職掌人民的生死大事的罷,就如城隍和東岳大帝之類。那么,他的鹵簿中間就另有一群特別的腳色:鬼卒、鬼王,還有活無常。

這些鬼物們,大概都是由粗人和鄉下人扮演的。鬼卒和鬼王是紅紅綠綠的衣裳,赤著腳;藍臉,上面又畫些魚鱗,也許是龍鱗或別的什么鱗罷,我不大清楚。鬼卒拿著鋼叉,叉環振得琅琅地響,鬼王拿的是一塊小小的虎頭牌。据傳說,鬼王是只用一只腳走路的;但他究竟是鄉下人,雖然臉上已經畫上些魚鱗或者別的什么鱗,卻仍然只得用了兩只腳走路。所以看客對于他們不很敬畏,也不大留心,除了念佛老嫗和她的孫子們為面面圓到起見,也照例給他們一個“不胜屏營待命之至”的儀節。

至于我們——我相信:我和許多人——所最愿意看的,卻在活無常。他不但活潑而詼諧,單是那渾身雪白這一點,在紅紅綠綠中就有“鶴立雞群”之概。只要望見一頂白紙的高帽子和他手里的破芭蕉扇的影子,大家就都有些緊張,而且高興起來了。人民之于鬼物,惟獨与他最為稔熟,也最為親密,平時也常常可以遇見他。譬如城隍廟或東岳廟中,大殿后面就有一間暗室,叫作“陰司間”,在才可辨色的昏暗中,塑著各种鬼:吊死鬼、跌死鬼、虎傷鬼、科場鬼,……而一進門口所看見的長而白的東西就是他。我雖然也曾瞻仰過一回這“陰司間”,但那時膽子小,沒有看明白。听說他一手還拿著鐵索,因為他是勾攝生魂的使者。相傳樊江東岳廟的“陰司間”的构造,本來是极其特別的:門口是一塊活板,人一進門,踏著活板的這一端,塑在那一端的踏便扑過來,鐵索正套在你脖子上。后來嚇死了一個人,釘實了,所以在我幼小的時候,這就已不能動。

倘使要看個分明,那么,《玉歷鈔傳》上就畫著他的像,不過《玉歷鈔傳》也有繁簡不同的本子的,倘是繁本,就一定有。身上穿的是斬衰凶服,腰間束的是草繩,腳穿草鞋,項挂紙錠;手上是破芭蕉扇、鐵索、算盤;肩膀是聳起的,頭發卻披下來;眉眼的外梢都向下,象一個“八”字。頭上一頂長方帽,下大頂小,按比例一算,該有二尺來高罷;在正面,就是遺老遺少們所戴瓜皮小帽的綴一粒珠子或一塊寶石的地方,直寫著四個字道:“一見有喜”。有一种本子上,卻寫的是“你也來了”。這四個字,是有時也見于包公殿的扁額上的,至于他的帽上是何人所寫,他自己還是閻羅王,我可沒有研究出。

《玉歷鈔傳》上還有一种和活無常相對的鬼物,裝束也相仿,叫作“死有分”。這在迎神時候也有的,但名稱卻訛作死無常了,黑臉、黑衣,誰也不愛看。在“陰死間”里也有的,胸口靠著牆壁,陰森森地站著;那才真真是“碰壁”。凡有進去燒香的人們,必須摩一摩他的脊梁,据說可以擺脫了晦气;我小時也曾摩過這脊梁來,然而晦气似乎終于沒有脫,——也許那時不摩,現在的晦气還要重罷,這一節也還是沒有研究出。我也沒有研究過小乘佛教的經典,但据耳食之談,則在印度的佛經里,焰摩天是有的,牛首阿旁也有的,都在地獄里做主任。至于勾攝生魂的使者的這無常先生,卻似乎于古無征,耳所習聞的只有什么“人生無常”之類的話。大概這意思傳到中國之后,人們便將他具体化了。這實在是我們中國人的創作。

然而人們一見他,為什么就都有些緊張,而且高興起來呢?

凡有一處地方,如果出了文士學者或名流,他將筆頭一扭,就很容易變成“模范縣”。我的故鄉,在漢末雖曾經虞仲翔先生揄揚過,但是那究竟太早了,后來到底免不了產生所謂“紹興師爺”,不過也并非男女老小全是“紹興師爺”,別的“下等人”也不少。這些“下等人”,要他們發什么“我們現在走的是一條狹窄險阻的小路,左面是一個廣漠無際的泥潭,右面也是一片廣漠無際的浮砂,前面是遙遙茫茫蔭在薄霧的里面的目的地”那樣熱昏似的妙語,是辦不到的,可是在無意中,看得住這“蔭在薄霧的里面的目的地”的道路很明白:求婚,結婚,養孩子,死亡。但這自然是專就我的故鄉而言,若是“模范縣”里的人民,那當然又作別論。他們——敝同鄉“下等人”——的許多,活著,苦著,被流言,被反噬,因了積久的經驗,知道陽間維持“公理”的只有一個會,而且這會的本身就是“遙遙茫茫”,于是乎勢不得不發生對于陰間的神往。人是大抵自以為銜些冤抑的;活的“正人君子”們只能騙鳥,若問愚民,他就可以不假思索地回答你:公正的裁判是在陰間!想到生的樂趣,生固然可以留戀;但想到生的苦趣,無常也不一定是惡客。無論貴賤,無論貧富,其時都是“一雙空手見閻王”,有冤的得伸,有罪的就得罰。然而雖說是“下等人”,也何嘗沒有反省?自己做了一世人,又怎么樣呢?未曾“跳到半天空”么?沒有“放冷箭”么?無常的手里就拿著大算盤,你擺盡臭架子也無益。對付別人要滴水不羼的公理,對自己總還不如雖在陰司里也還能夠尋到一點私情。然而那又究竟是陰間,閻羅天子、牛首阿旁,還有中國人自己想出來的馬面,都是并不兼差,真正主持公理的腳色,雖然他們并沒有在報上發表過什么大文章。當還未做鬼之前,有時先不欺心的人們,遙想著將來,就又不能不想在整塊的公理中,來尋一點情面的末屑,這時候,我們的活無常先生便見得可親愛了,利中取大,害中取小,我們的古哲墨瞿先生謂之“小取”云。

在廟里泥塑的,在書上墨印的模樣上,是看不出他那可愛來的。最好是去看戲。但看普通的戲也不行,必須看“大戲”或者“目連戲”。目連戲的熱鬧,張岱在《陶庵夢憶》上也曾夸張過,說是要連演兩三天。在我幼小時候可已經不然了,也如大戲一樣,始于黃昏,到次日的天明便完結。這都是敬神禳災的演劇,全本里一定有一個惡人,次日的將近天明便是這惡人的收場的時候,“惡貫滿盈”,閻王出票來勾攝了,于是乎這活的活無常便在戲台上出現。

我還記得自己坐在這一种戲台下的船上的情形,看客的心情和普通是兩樣的。平常愈夜深愈懶散,這時卻愈起勁。他所戴的紙糊的高帽子,本來是挂在台角上的,這時預先拿進去了;一种特別樂器,也准備使勁地吹。這樂器好象喇叭,細而長,可有七八尺,大約是鬼物所愛听的罷,和鬼無關的時候就不用;吹起來,Nhatu,nhatu,nhatututuu地響,所以我們叫它“目連瞎頭”。在許多人期待著惡人的沒落的凝望中,他出來了,服飾比畫上還簡單,不拿鐵索,也不帶算盤,就是雪白的一條莽漢,粉面朱唇,眉黑如漆,蹙著,不知道是在笑還是在哭。但他一出台就須打一百零八個嚏,同時也放一百零八個屁,這才自述他的履歷。可惜我記不清楚了,其中有一段大概是這樣:

…大王出了牌票,叫我去拿隔壁的癩子。
問了起來呢,原來是我堂房的阿侄。
生的是什么病?傷寒,還帶痢疾。
看的是什么郎中?下方橋的陳念義la儿子。
開的是怎樣的藥方?附子、肉桂,外加牛膝。
第一煎吃下去,冷汗發出;
第二煎吃下去,兩腳筆直。
我道nga阿嫂哭得悲傷,暫放他還陽半刻。
大王道我是得錢買放,就將我捆打四十!

這敘述里的“子”字都讀作入聲。陳念義是越中的名醫,俞仲華曾將他寫入《蕩寇志》里,擬為神仙;可是一到他的令郎,似乎便不大高明了。la者“的”也;“儿”讀若“倪”,倒是古音罷;nga者,“我的”或“我們的”之意也。

他口里的閻羅天子仿佛也不大高明,竟會誤解他的人格,——不,鬼格。但連“還陽半刻”都知道,究竟還不失其“聰明正直之謂神”。不過這懲罰,卻給了我們的活無常以不可磨滅的冤苦的印象,一提起,就使他更加蹙緊雙眉,捏定破芭蕉扇,臉向著地,鴨子浮水似的跳舞起來。

Nhatu,nhatu,nhatu-nhatu-nhatututuu!目連瞎頭也冤苦不堪似的吹著。他因此決定了:

難是弗放者個!
那怕你,銅牆鐵壁!
那怕你,皇親國戚!…

“難”者,“今”也;“者個”者“的了”之意,詞之決也。“雖有忮心,不怨飄瓦”,他現在毫不留情了,然而這是受了閻羅老子的督責之故,不得已也。一切鬼眾中,就是他有點人情;我們不變鬼則已,如果要變鬼,自然就只有他可以比較的相親近。迎神時候的無常,可和演劇上的又有些不同了。他只有動作,沒有言語,跟定了一個捧著一盤飯菜的小丑似的腳色走,他要去吃;他卻不給他。另外還加添了兩名腳色,就是“正人君子”之所謂“老婆儿女”。凡“下等人”,都有一种通病:常喜歡以己之所欲,施之于人。雖是對于鬼,也不肯給他孤寂,凡有鬼神,大概總要給他們一對一對地配起來。無常也不在例外。所以,一個是漂亮的女人,只是很有些村婦樣,大家都稱她無常嫂;這樣看來,無常是和我們平輩的,無怪他不擺教授先生的架子。一個是小孩子,小高帽,小白衣;雖然小,兩肩卻已經聳起了,眉目的外梢也向下。這分明是無常少爺了,大家卻叫他阿領,對于他似乎都不很表敬意;猜起來,仿佛是無常嫂的前夫之子似的。但不知何以相貌又和無常有這么象?吁!鬼神之事,難言之矣,只得姑且置之弗論。至于無常何以沒有親儿女,到今年可很容易解釋了;鬼神能前知,他怕儿女一多,愛說閒話的就要旁敲側擊地鍛成他拿盧布,所以不但研究,還早已實行了“節育”了。

這捧著飯菜的一幕,就是“送無常”。因為他是勾魂使者,所以民間凡有一個人死掉之后,就得用酒飯恭送他。至于不給他吃,那是賽會時候的開玩笑,實際上并不然。但是,和無常開玩笑,是大家都有此意的,因為他爽直,愛發議論,有人情,——要尋真實的朋友,倒還是他妥當。

有人說,他是生人走陰,就是原是人,夢中卻入冥去當差的,所以很有些人情。我還記得住在离我家不遠的小屋子里的一個男人,便自稱是“走無常”,門外常常燃著香燭。但我看他臉上的鬼气反而多。莫非入冥做了鬼,倒會增加人气的么?吁!鬼神之事,難言之矣,這也只得姑且置之弗論了。

六月二十三日。


Tao Yuanqing’s 陶元慶 interpretation of The Hanged Woman.

Of Revenge and Forgiveness

Gloria Davies

On 20 September 1936, one month before his death on 19 October, Lu Xun completed ‘The Hanged Woman’, pointing out that he intended the essay as a complement to ‘Wu Chang’, written ten years earlier. He stated that these two ghosts appeared to be unique to his hometown of Shaoxing and commented that whereas Wu Chang ‘simply put up with death without making a fuss’, the Hanged Woman embraced death with a vengeance. Whereas Wu Chang reminded Lu Xun of death as the great leveler, the Hanged Woman enjoined him to heed the call of justice.

He described her as a specter radiant with unbridled hate for those who had wronged her in life; who had chosen an unnatural death to end her suffering. She powdered her face chalk- white and dressed in bright red before hanging herself, thereby clearly signaling an intent to metamorphose into an avenging ghost. Lu Xun explained that her choice of color was ‘understandable’ because ‘red possessed a positive energy 陽氣 that made it easier for her to approach the living’, noting that this was essential for a ghost bent on haunting her persecutors and instilling fear in others. He observed that the Hanged Woman had such force of presence in local Shaoxing culture that women intent on ending their lives of misery often copied both her mode of suicide and her dress.

He devoted most of the essay to recounting his childhood memories of the Hanged Woman, highlighting the special place she occupied as a key event on the street-opera stage, her entrance announced by the blare of mournful trumpets. He wrote that he had long forgotten the lines she sang, noting that even the one line he cited in the essay, ‘I was a daughter of the Yang family, ah me, unhappy me!’, was a contribution from his younger brother, Jianren. For Lu Xun, what was memorable about the Hanged Woman was her appearance: her red jacket, black coat, disheveled hair, pitch-black eyebrows, and crimson lips rendered all the more prominent against the whiteness of her powdered face. She was, for him, the specter of the oppressed calling out for justice. He stressed that the female gender of this archetypal vengeful ghost was no accident: even though there was also the specter of the Hanged Man, his female counterpart commanded greater potency in the afterlife.

Lu Xun nonetheless indicated that the Hanged Woman was subordinated to patriarchal power by describing a scene from the street opera in which she wrestled the Hanged Man for the soul of a new ghost to take her place, only to be defeated. He wrote that she was thus forced to rely on the pity of the Daoist Heavenly Guardian 亡靈官, who killed her rival so that she could ‘do as she pleased’. Lu Xun remarked ironically that this ghostly official was, after all, ‘a fierce champion of women’s rights’. Here he also suggested that it was because the oppressed yearned so acutely for just redress that Chinese stories about the ‘lives’ of ghosts were highly versatile, such that even the dead could be repeatedly “’killed‘ in order that wrongs might be righted. Lu Xun observed that ’the one bad habit‘ of Chinese ghosts was their preoccupation with finding a ’substitute‘ to bear their burdens. He concluded:

This makes their quest based entirely on self-profit. Otherwise we would be able to coexist with them in perfect ease. Since this is the custom, even the Hanged Woman is no exception. Sometimes she is so fixed on ’seeking a substitute‘ that she forgets to take revenge. In Shaoxing, most people cook rice in an iron pot over coal or straw. Once the soot accumulates, the pot loses its receptivity to heat. Hence, we often find soot scrapings on the ground. The soot is always scattered, because no village woman would dare take the more convenient path of simply turning the pot upside down on the ground to scrape off the soot, for this would form a black circle.

The reason for this is to prevent the spirits of the hanged from turning the soot circle into a noose to lure and trap the living. Scattering the soot is a form of passive resistance, but the aim is merely to guard against being turned into a ‘substitute’ and not out of fear that she seeks revenge. Insofar as the oppressed do not set out to take revenge, they are not burdened with the fear of being the target of revenge: this fear belongs to murderers and their lackeys who surreptitiously feed on the flesh and blood of others. Hence the latter are wont to offer such advice as ‘Don’t repay evil for evil’ or ‘Let bygones be bygones’. This year I have seen more clearly into the mysteries of these creatures with human faces.

In summoning the Hanged Woman so close to his own death, Lu Xun clearly intended to turn her into a parting image of his critical inquiry. The idea of conjoining revenge and death also framed the essay titled ‘Death’ [quoted above — Ed.], which he wrote a fortnight before ‘The Hanged Woman’. In ‘Death’, Lu Xun sought to put his worldly affairs in order (he knew his tuberculosis was incurable and the end was imminent): in it he published his instructions so that his family, friends, and protégés were left in no doubt about his wishes, and he also dwelt on his own fascination with the intricacies of Chinese ghost stories.

Reprising the theme of the afterlife as the sole prospect of justice for the oppressed, he wrote that whereas the Buddhist idea of transmigration inspired the poor to yearn for rebirth into a better life, its impact on those who were comfortably off 小康者 was entirely different. The comfortably off were complacent and sought nothing more than to maintain the status quo: hence ‘they would see an advantage in remaining as ghosts’ so long as there were no disruptions to their way of life. For his own part, he belonged to the category of persons who would go ‘without making a fuss’  隨隨便便; who ‘would not think too much upon it even when the end is near’. Two weeks later he used ‘without making a fuss’ in ‘The Hanged Woman’ to describe Wu Chang, to evoke an equanimity about passing on, in emulation of his favorite childhood ghost.

— Gloria Davies, Lu Xun’s Revolution, pp.300-302.

***

女吊

大概是明末的王思任說的罷:「會稽乃報仇雪恥之鄉,非藏垢納污之地!」這對於我們紹興人很有光彩,我也很喜歡聽到,或引用這兩句話。但其實,是並不的確的;這地方,無論為那一樣都可以用。

不過一般的紹興人,並不像上海的「前進作家」那樣憎惡報復,卻也是事實。單就文藝而言,他們就在戲劇上創造了一個帶復仇性的,比別的一切鬼魂更美,更強的鬼魂。這就是「女吊」。我以為紹興有兩種特色的鬼,一種是表現對於死的無可奈何,而且隨隨便便的「無常」,我已經在《朝華夕拾》里得了紹介給全國讀者的光榮了,這回就輪到別一種。

「女吊」也許是方言,翻成普通的白話,只好說是「女性的吊死鬼」。其實,在平時,說起「吊死鬼」,就已經含有「女性的」的意思的,因為投繯而死者,向來以婦人女子為最多。有一種蜘蛛,用一枝絲掛下自己的身體,懸在空中,《爾雅》上已謂之「蜆,縊女」,可見在周朝或漢朝,自經的已經大抵是女性了,所以那時不稱它為男性的「縊夫」或中性的「縊者」。不過一到做「大戲」或「目連戲」的時候,我們便能在看客的嘴裡聽到「女吊」的稱呼。也叫作「吊神」。橫死的鬼魂而得到「神」的尊號的,我還沒有發見過第二位,則其受民眾之愛戴也可想。但為什麼這時獨要稱她「女吊」呢?

很容易解:因為在戲台上,也要有「男吊」出現了。

我所知道的是四十年前的紹興,那時沒有達官顯宦,所以未聞有專門為人(堂會?)的演劇。凡做戲,總帶著一點社戲性,供著神位,是看戲的主體,人們去看,不過叨光。但「大戲」或「目連戲」所邀請的看客,範圍可較廣了,自然請神,而又請鬼,尤其是橫死的怨鬼。所以儀式就更緊張,更嚴肅。一請怨鬼,儀式就格外緊張嚴肅,我覺得這道理是很有趣的。

也許我在別處已經寫過。「大戲」和「目連」,雖然同是演給神,人,鬼看的戲文,但兩者又很不同。不同之點:一在演員,前者是專門的戲子,後者則是臨時集合的Amateur——農民和工人;一在劇本,前者有許多種,後者卻好歹總只演一本《目連救母記》。然而開場的「起殤」,中間的鬼魂時時出現,收場的好人升天,惡人落地獄,是兩者都一樣的。

當沒有開場之前,就可看出這並非普通的社戲,為的是台兩旁早已掛滿了紙帽,就是高長虹之所謂「紙糊的假冠」,是給神道和鬼魂戴的。所以凡內行人,緩緩的吃過夜飯,喝過茶,閒閒而去,只要看掛著的帽子,就能知道什麼鬼神已經出現。因為這戲開場較早,「起殤」在太陽落盡時候,所以飯後去看,一定是做了好一會了,但都不是精彩的部分。「起殤」者,紹興人現已大抵誤解為「起喪」,以為就是召鬼,其實是專限於橫死者的。《九歌》中的《國殤》雲:「身既死兮神以靈,魂魄毅兮為鬼雄」,當然連戰死者在內。明社垂絕,越人起義而死者不少,至清被稱為叛賊,我們就這樣的一同招待他們的英靈。在薄暮中,十幾匹馬,站在台下了;戲子扮好一個鬼王,藍面鱗紋,手執鋼叉,還得有十幾名鬼卒,則普通的孩子都可以應募。我在十餘歲時候,就曾經充過這樣的義勇鬼,爬上台去,說明志願,他們就給在臉上塗上幾筆彩色,交付一柄鋼叉。待到有十多人了,即一擁上馬,疾馳到野外的許多無主孤墳之處,環繞三匝,下馬大叫,將鋼叉用力的連連刺在墳墓上,然後拔叉馳回,上了前台,一同大叫一聲,將鋼叉一擲,釘在台板上。我們的責任,這就算完結,洗臉下台,可以回家了,但倘被父母所知,往往不免挨一頓竹篠(這是紹興打孩子的最普通的東西),一以罰其帶著鬼氣,二以賀其沒有跌死,但我卻幸而從來沒有被覺察,也許是因為得了惡鬼保佑的緣故罷。

這一種儀式,就是說,種種孤魂厲鬼,已經跟著鬼王和鬼卒,前來和我們一同看戲了,但人們用不著擔心,他們深知道理,這一夜決不絲毫作怪。於是戲文也接著開場,徐徐進行,人事之中,夾以出鬼:火燒鬼,淹死鬼,科場鬼(死在考場里的),虎傷鬼……孩子們也可以自由去扮,但這種沒出息鬼,願意去扮的並不多,看客也不將它當作一回事。一到「跳吊」時分——「跳」是動詞,意義和「跳加官」之「跳」同——情形的鬆緊可就大不相同了。台上吹起悲涼的喇叭來,中央的橫梁上,原有一團布,也在這時放下,長約戲台高度的五分之二。看客們都屏著氣,台上就闖出一個不穿衣褲,只有一條犢鼻褌,面施幾筆粉墨的男人,他就是「男吊」。一登台,徑奔懸布,像蜘蛛的死守著蛛絲,也如結網,在這上面鑽,掛。他用布吊著各處:腰,脅,胯下,肘彎,腿彎,後項窩……一共七七四十九處。最後才是脖子,但是並不真套進去的,兩手扳著布,將頸子一伸,就跳下,走掉了。這「男吊」最不易跳,演目連戲時,獨有這一個腳色須特請專門的戲子。那時的老年人告訴我,這也是最危險的時候,因為也許會招出真的「男吊」來。所以後台上一定要扮一個王靈官,一手捏訣,一手執鞭,目不轉睛的看著一面照見前台的鏡子。倘鏡中見有兩個,那麼,一個就是真鬼了,他得立刻跳出去,用鞭將假鬼打落台下。假鬼一落台,就該跑到河邊,洗去粉墨,擠在人叢中看戲,然後慢慢的回家。倘打得慢,他就會在戲台上吊死;洗得慢,真鬼也還會認識,跟住他。這擠在人叢中看自己們所做的戲,就如要人下野而念佛,或出洋遊歷一樣,也正是一種缺少不得的過渡儀式。

這之後,就是「跳女吊」。自然先有悲涼的喇叭;少頃,門幕一掀,她出場了。大紅衫子,黑色長背心,長髮蓬松,頸掛兩條紙錠,垂頭,垂手,彎彎曲曲的走一個全台,內行人說:這是走了一個「心」字。為什麼要走「心」字呢?我不明白。我只知道她何以要穿紅衫。看王充的《論衡》,知道漢朝的鬼的顏色是紅的,但再看後來的文字和圖畫,卻又並無一定顏色,而在戲文里,穿紅的則只有這「吊神」。意思是很容易瞭然的;因為她投繯之際,準備作厲鬼以復仇,紅色較有陽氣,易於和生人相接近,……紹興的婦女,至今還偶有搽粉穿紅之後,這才上吊的。自然,自殺是卑怯的行為,鬼魂報仇更不合於科學,但那些都是愚婦人,連字也不認識,敢請「前進」的文學家和「戰鬥」的勇士們不要十分生氣罷。我真怕你們要變呆鳥。

她將披著的頭髮向後一抖,人這才看清了臉孔:石灰一樣白的圓臉,漆黑的濃眉,烏黑的眼眶,猩紅的嘴唇。聽說浙東的有幾府的戲文里,吊神又拖著幾寸長的假舌頭,但在紹興沒有。不是我袒護故鄉,我以為還是沒有好;那麼,比起現在將眼眶染成淡灰色的時式打扮來,可以說是更徹底,更可愛。不過下嘴角應該略略向上,使嘴巴成為三角形:這也不是醜模樣。假使半夜之後,在薄暗中,遠處隱約著一位這樣的粉面朱唇,就是現在的我,也許會跑過去看看的,但自然,卻未必就被誘惑得上吊。她兩肩微聳,四顧,傾聽,似驚,似喜,似怒,終於發出悲哀的聲音,慢慢地唱道:「奴奴本身楊家女,呵呀,苦呀,天哪!……」

下文我不知道了。就是這一句,也還是剛從克士那裡聽來的。但那大略,是說後來去做童養媳,備受虐待,終於弄到投繯。唱完就聽到遠處的哭聲,這也是一個女人,在銜冤悲泣,準備自殺。她萬分驚喜,要去「討替代」了,卻不料突然跳出「男吊」來,主張應該他去討。他們由爭論而至動武,女的當然不敵,幸而王靈官雖然臉相並不漂亮,卻是熱烈的女權擁護家,就在危急之際出現,一鞭把男吊打死,放女的獨去活動了。老年人告訴我說:古時候,是男女一樣的要上吊的,自從王靈官打死了男吊神,才少有男人上吊;而且古時候,是身上有七七四十九處,都可以吊死的,自從王靈官打死了男吊神,致命處才只在脖子上。中國的鬼有些奇怪,好像是做鬼之後,也還是要死的,那時的名稱,紹興叫作「鬼里鬼」。但男吊既然早被王靈官打死,為什麼現在「跳吊」,還會引出真的來呢?我不懂這道理,問問老年人,他們也講說不明白。

而且中國的鬼還有一種壞脾氣,就是「討替代」,這才完全是利己主義;倘不然,是可以十分坦然的和他們相處的。習俗相沿,雖女吊不免,她有時也單是「討替代」,忘記了復仇。紹興煮飯,多用鐵鍋,燒的是柴或草,煙煤一厚,火力就不靈了,因此我們就常在地上看見刮下的鍋煤。但一定是散亂的,凡村姑鄉婦,誰也決不肯省些力,把鍋子伏在地面上,團團一刮,使煙煤落成一個黑圈子。這是因為吊神誘人的圈套,就用煤圈煉成的緣故。散掉煙煤,正是消極的抵制,不過為的是反對「討替代」,並非因為怕她去報仇。被壓迫者即使沒有報復的毒心,也決無被報復的恐懼,只有明明暗暗,吸血吃肉的兇手或其幫閒們,這才贈人以「犯而勿校」或「勿念舊惡」的格言,——我到今年,也愈加看透了這些人面東西的秘密。

九月十九——二十日。