1821-50 (Ch'ing dynasty)
Embroidered silk, gold thread
The John R. Van Derlip Fund
A T'ang (tong) dynasty emperor visited the Chinese city of Loyang (low-yang) during a long spell of very hot, dry weather. There, in a
temple, lived an Indian priest named Wu Wei (woo way), who knew how to call forth the dragon who brings rain. The emperor begged
Wu Wei to bring rain to his scorched land, but the priest refused. The heat was seasonable, he said, and summoning the dragon would
do much damage. The emperor said that the people were suffering because of the drought. Any rain, he pleaded, even if accompanied
by roaring winds and crashing thunder, would be good. Finally Wu Wei agreed.
Wu Wei ordered the removal of everything from the temple, except for one bowl of water. Stirring the water, he repeated magical words
hundreds of times. Presently, a red finger-sized dragon appeared, raising its head slightly above the water's surface. Then it
slowly disappeared. Wu wei stirred the water again, chanting a spell three times. From the bowl a white vapor rose several feet
into the air and floated toward the temple door.
"Go," Wu Wei ordered the emperor's messenger, "for the rain is coming!" As he fled to alert the emperor, the messenger
glanced back to see the vapor roll like white silk out of the temple. Then darkness fell, bringing with it thunder and rain. Gale
winds uprooted giant trees along the road as the storm overtook the terrified messenger. At last he reached the emperor, drenched
1 This story was first told in Ci Liushi Jiu Wen (Old records of the younger Liu) and written down by Li
Deyu, also of the T'ang Dynasty. This version is based on Evangeline D. Edward's translation in Chinese Prose Literature of the
T'ang Period (London, 1938) I, p. 93, who took it from Tangshui Congshu, ed. Wang Wenhe (Shanghai, 1806) I, bk. V, 5b-6..