Portraits of Thirty-three Swordsmen – 33 Jiao Jin Daoist

No. 33 Jiao Jin* Daoist: a drink would be sufficient, [as I] have no attachments.

Capital city, there was a man named Guo Lun, one time he took his family sightseeing on New Year’s Eve. They came home late. When passing through a run-down, out-of-way street, there ran across ten or so vicious youth. They were carousing loudly, unconcerned with other people’s need for peace and quiet. When they saw how attractive Guo Lun’s wife is, they started harassing her. Guo, knowing he does not have the strength to stop all of them, became anxious and embarrassed.

Right at this moment, a daoist dressed in black cloth and pointy cornered hat suddenly appeared: “this man is trying to escort his family home safely late at night, do not make trouble for them.” The punks shouted back: “We’re having our fun here, mind your own business!” They surrounded the daoist, trying to start something. The women took this opportunity to make their escape, only Guo Lun remained behind.

The daoist, unable to reason with the youths, shouted: “If you really want to engage in such wild indecent behavior, then I will oblige you with a lesson.” Swinging his arms, he started fighting with the youths. It was all very effortless, like a grown man fighting with infants. Very soon, all the youths were either on the ground moaning or fleeing the scene.

The daoist started walking away slowly. Guo Lun ran up to him to thank him “We’ve never met, but thanks to your help, my wife is safe. How can I ever repay you?” The daoist replied “I didn’t set out to do any good deeds. I saw injustice and merely reacted. I want nothing of the world, so I had expect nothing from you. That said, a drink would be sufficient.”

Upon hearing that, Guo Lun happily invited the daoist to his house for a drink. After drinking to his heart’s content, the daoist bid farewell. “Where are you going?” Guo Lun asked. “I am swordsman, not of this conventional world” was the daoist’s only reply. He bowed and left. A few steps out of the door, a sword popped out of the daoist ear; he hopped onto the sword and disappeared in the night sky.

Notes and Commentary:
* Jiao Jin is a type of hat with pointy corners. It was often worn by hermits.

In Chinese literature, Bai Bi 敗筆, literally unsuccessful brush stroke (like a mishit in tennis), means one mistake, especially near the end, that drastically reduced the overall achievement of the flawless performance so far. Here, the part about the daoist flying away on top of his sword is one such example, much like the reincarnation bit in Hong Xian.


京師人郭倫,元夕攜家觀燈。歸差晚,過委巷,值惡少年十輩行歌而前,聯袂喧笑,睢盱窺伺,將遮侮之。倫度力不能胜,窘甚。忽有青衣角巾道人來,責眾曰: “彼家眷夜歸,若輩那得無禮!”眾怒目:“我輩作戲,何預爾狂道事!”哄起攻之,婦女得乘間引去,倫獨留。道從勃然曰:“果欲施狂暴耶?吾今治汝矣!”揮臂縱擊,如搏嬰儿,頃之,皆顛仆哀叫,相率而遁。



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