Immortal Aunt Ma Scratches the Itch

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The story originates from the Biographies of Immortals ( 《神仙傳》 Shenxian Zhuan ), which mentioned that when the immortal Wang Fangping descended to Cai Jing's house, he sent for Immortal Aunt Ma. When she arrived, Cai found she was a pretty lady with long fingernails. Upon seeing them, Cai could not help thinking the long nails must be good at scratching the itch on his back. Wang Fangping realized through his Daoist arts what was in Cai's mind. He started to punish Cai with an invisible spiritual whip which made Cai terribly painful. After that, Wang told Cai, "Aunt Ma is an Immortal, how can you entertain such fantasies?" In later times, an analogy developed from the story, referring to unfounded hopes.