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Pu Songling

I am reading Pu Songling‘s Strange Stories From a Chinese Studio with 19th century Chinese lithograph illustrations for each story, and they are simply exquisite pieces of wonder. A master storyteller narrating a world of ghosts, fox-spirits, Taoist wizards, Buddhist holy men, macabre murders, surreal love, wall paintings serving as gateways to alternate realities, and an everyday life thoroughly blended with magic. As Pu Songling introduces the stories:

Here in the civilized world,
Stranger events by far occur
Than in the Country of Cropped Hair;
Before our eyes
Weirder tales unfold
Than in the Nation of Flying Heads.

With every story I read I keep returning more and more to my recent trek through China. Here is an excerpt from The Taoist Priest of Mount Lao:

…hearing that there were a large number of Taoist adepts living up on Mount Lao, one day he shouldered his knapsack and set out on a trip in that direction. He climbed one of the peaks, and found himself before a monastery, tucked away in the middle of nowhere.

Emeishan Monastery

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