Cover of a 1937 printed edition of In Search of the Supernatural (volume one)
Pages from a Ming dynasty Wanli period printed edition of In Search of the Supernatural

In Search of the Supernatural (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: 搜神记; pinyin: Sōushén Jì; Wade–Giles: Sou-shên Chi; Jyutping: sau2 san4 gei3; lit. 'Record(s) of Searching for the Spirits'), is a 4th-century Chinese compilation of legends, short stories, and hearsay concerning Chinese gods, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena. Although the authorship of the book is not made explicit in the text, it is believed to have been written and compiled by Gan Bao, a historian at the court of Emperor Yuan of the Jin dynasty around AD 350. It was reissued in numerous editions, including in 1593. The book usually consists of 464 stories.

The English translation by Kenneth J. DeWoskin and J. I. Crump, Jr. was published in 1996. The book is also known as In Search of the Sacred and Anecdotes about Spirits and Immortals.


Notable stories include:

The collection also contains a variant of the story of a Swan Maiden (or Heavenly/Celestial Bride) who marries a mortal man.[6]


Pu Songling cites Gan Bao's work as a far greater work than his own, the now famous Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.


  1. ^ Gan Bao. In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record, translated into English by Kenneth J. DeWoskin and James Irving Crump. Stanford University Press, 1996. pp. 230-231. ISBN 0-8047-2506-3
  2. ^ Maeth Ch., Russell (1990). "El cuento de li ji". Estudios de Asia y Africa. 25 (3): 537–539. JSTOR 40312235.
  3. ^ Journey of a Goddess: Chen Jinggu Subdues the Snake Demon. Translated, edited, and with an introduction by Fan Pen Li Chen. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. 2017. p. 31. ISBN 978-14384-6-7078
  4. ^ Idema, Wilt L. Personal Salvation and Filial Piety: Two Precious Scroll Narratives of Guanyin and Her Acolytes. University of Hawai'i Press. 2008. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-8248-3215-5
  5. ^ He, Saihanjula (2000). Critical fantasies: structure of Chinese folk tales (Thesis). OCLC 44808453.
  6. ^ Hsieh, Daniel. Love and Women in Early Chinese Fiction. The Chinese University Press. 2008. pp. 123-136. ISBN 978-962-996-305-7

Further reading