Chinese Folktales

15. Haloes

ALL true gods have a circular halo above their heads. Whenever lesser gods or devils see this halo they cringe and dare not move. The master of heaven on the Dragon Tiger Mountain was well acquainted with all the gods. One day the War god Kuan Yü descended to him just as an official from the neighbouring district was visiting the master of heaven. The master advised the man to withdraw and hide in a back room. He then went to welcome the war god. The official, however, peeped through a crack in the door. He saw the war god’s red face and green raiment: he was a terrifying sight which commanded respect. Suddenly on his head a red glow flashed and its rays penetrated to the back room So that the official was blinded in one eye. After a short While the war god left again and the master of heaven went out with him. Just then Kuan Yü said anxiously ‘Confucius is coming! The halo on his head lights up the whole universe. Even I am not his equal at a thousand miles. I will hurry out of his way.’ With these words he stepped on a cloud and disappeared. The master of heaven then told the official what had happened, adding: ‘Fortunately you did not see the war god eye to eye! Unless a man possesses the highest virtue and the highest knowledge the red glow will melt him.’ With these words he gave him a pill of the elixir of life and the man’s blind eye gradually improved.

It is also said that sages have a red halo about their heads which is feared by devils, foxes and ghosts.

There was once a sage who had a fox for a friend. The fox would take him along at night and they would stroll through the villages. They could enter all the houses and see what was happening in them without being noticed by the people. But whenever the fox saw a red glow over a house he would not go in. The sage asked him why.

‘These are all famous sages,’ the fox replied. The brighter the glow the more profound is their wisdom. I shy away from them and dare not enter their houses.’

And the man said: ‘Surely I too am a sage. Have I no halo to make yon shy away from me?’

‘There is only some black mist over your head,’ the fox replied. ‘Never yet have I noticed a glow there.’

The sage was ashamed and angry, but the fox roared with laughter and made of.