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The Jiang Shi of China

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 29

The terrifying Jiang Shi are a zombie-vampire hybrid who’s still stiff corpse rises from the dead to feed off of the qi (life-force or energy) or blood of the living. With its green skin, Qing Dynasty robes and bizarre ability to “hop” with its arms outstretched, the Jiang Shi must spend the daylight hours in hiding from humans in either a coffin or cave. However, at night, the Jiang Shi leaves its nest to prey upon the unsuspecting.

A Jiang Shi may rise as a result of any combination of factors, including: Not being buried after the funeral; a black cat leaping across the coffin; possession of the corpse by another spirit or daemon; using magic to raise the dead; being a resentful and/or unattended corpse; or, absorbing enough qi to return to life. Murder, suicide and just taking enjoyment in being an immortal pain to your family can also result in being risen Jiang Shi.

The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of a Jiang Shi is to hold your breath. As it is believed the essence of qi is related to breath and breathing, the Jiang Shi can detect its next victim by following its breath. By holding your breath, you would become invisible to the Jiang Shi.

As there are so many variations on the possible creation of this creature, the Jiang Shi removal kit would need to include all of the following: a mirror, as the Jiang Shi find their own reflection frightening; objects carved from the wood of a peach tree, which are believed by many Chinese to deter evil spirits; a rooster call (even the Jiang Shi find that 5 AM wake-up call annoying); seven jujube seeds and a hammer to nail the seeds into the seven acupuncture points in the Jiang Shi’s back; a match or some means of setting the Jiang Shi on fire; a handbell; black thread; a copy of the I Ching; a bottle of vinegar; a black donkey’s hooves; azuki beans; a stonemason’s awl; an axe; and a broom. Mindful homeowners can also install a 15 centimetre high beam of wood across the bottom of the entry doorway to bar a Jiang Shi’s entry.

The folklore of the Jiang Shi is believed to have arisen from practice known as “ganshi” or “driving corpses”. As people moved from their hometowns to neighbouring districts in the search for work, the practice arose of returning the deceased to his or her home village for burial to prevent the soul being homesick. If a vehicle was unavailable, a Taoist priest could be hired to carry the corpse back home. The deceased would be tied upright to two bamboo rods. Two men, each one carrying the end of one rod on his shoulder, would walk through the night with the body between them. As they walked, the bamboo would flex, giving the corpse the appearance of hopping from place to place. The Taoist priest would walk in front of the men, ringing a handbell as a warning to fellow travellers and villagers, so they could avert their gazes or hide to avoid the bad luck which would befall them if they set eyes on the Jiang Shi.

Ghost, Spiritual Or Historic Stories For Pubs And Restaurants