Today's submission is on the topic of Chinese Vampires, or Chiang-Shih as they are known as in China. We thank you Lewis for your contribution and hope our readers will enjoy. -Gary. Chiang-Shih By Lewis Donovan.
Today's vampires of the world and we are jet setting off to China. To look at one of the most fearful myths surrounding Chinese culture.The Chiang-Shih.In popular Chinese mythology, Chiang-shih (or kiang-shi, but also known as jiangshi), sometimes called hopping corpse or Chinese vampires by Westerners, are reanimated corpses that hop around, killing living creatures to absorb quintessence (life force energy) (qì) from their victims. Some would appear to look as a normal human being while others had a hideous green phosphorescent glow with serrated teeth and long talons. They have difficulty walking because of the pain and stiffness of being dead so they hop instead.
They are far more pale and have very dark circles under their eyes. Generally in the movies the hopping corpses are dressed in imperial Qing Dynasty clothes, their arms permanently outstretched due to rigor mortis. Like those depicted in Western movies, they tend to appear with an outrageously long tongue and long fingernails. Their visual depiction as horrific Qing Dynasty officials reflects a common stereotype among the Han Chinese of the foreign Manchu people, who founded the much-despised dynasty, as bloodthirsty creatures with little regard for human. They are said to be created when a person's soul fails to leave the deceased's body.
Usually chiang-shih were created after a particularly violent death, such as a suicide, hanging, drowning, or smothering. It could also be a result of an improper burial, as it was thought that the dead would become restless if their burial was postponed after their death. The chiang-shih were not known to rise from the grave, so their transformation had to take place prior to burial. Even the influence of Western vampire stories brought the blood-sucking aspect to the Chinese myth in modern times (the traditional Chiang-shih steal the breath of his victim). In fact, Dracula is translated to Chinese as "blood-sucking jiāngshī" where the thirst of blood is explicitly emphasised because it is not a traditional trait of a jiāngshī.
In Chinese belief, each person has two souls, a superior or rational soul and an inferior irrational soul. The superior soul could leave a sleeping body and appear as the body's double as it roamed about. It could also possess and speak through the body of another. However, if something would happen to the disembodied soul during its journey, its body would suffer. The inferior soul, on the other hand, was called p'ai or p'o and was that which inhabited the body of a fetus during pregnancy and often lingered in the bodies of the dead.
It was thought to preserve the corpse. If the p'ai was strong enough, it could preserve and inhabit a corpse for a length of time, using the body to serve its needs. The chiang-shih would arise from people who died a violent death, including suicide. Improper burial procedures such as a long postponement of burial which angered the dead. Animals, particularly cats, were kept away from the unburied corpse for fear that the might jump over it and thus the deceased would come back as a chiang-shih.
Because they had no powers to dematerialise, transformation had to occur before burial, an added incentive for prompt burial. It came from the mythical folklore practice of "Travelling a Corpse over a Thousand Li", where travelling companion or family members who could not afford wagons or have very little money would hire Tao priests to transport corpses of their friends/family members who died far away from home over long distances by teaching them to hop on their own feet back to their home town for proper burial. Some people speculate that hopping corpses were originally smugglers in disguise who wanted to scare off law enforcement officers. I will let you all decide. -Lewis Donovan.