Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Jiangshi

From The World of Chinese: A Chinese Ghost Primer
I recently watched a really awesome documentary on Netflix called Doc of the Dead.  This film is an excellent look at the evolution of the zombie film, and the effect of such on popular culture.  Early in the film, people off the street are being interviewed about their thoughts on zombies and a young Chinese couple share some interesting cultural information about zombies that...hop.

The creature in question is called a Jiangshi, a word that literally translates to stiff corpse.  The corpse is so stiff that it cannot bend its legs and walk like you and me.  Instead, with its legs locked rigidly and its arms straight out in front of it, it furiously HOPS after its victims, not stopping until it has succeeded in sucking the victim's life force dry!

Sometimes referred to as a vampire and sometimes referred to as a zombie, but always described as a reanimated corpse, the Jiangshi was first mentioned by Ji Xiaolan of the Qing Dynasty.  It is believed that the Jiangshi legends originated with a folk belief concerning the burial of those who died many miles from their ancestral homes.  If proper transportation could not be afforded by the family to bring the body home, they could hire a Taoist priest who could teach the reanimated corpse to HOP its way home under the cover of night.  Supposedly, this myth has some historic ties as many young people in one of China's many provinces would leave to work elsewhere.  If they died away from home, their bodies were carried back in a bamboo contraption carried by two men; as the body was carried along the route, the bamboo would flex, and it would appear as if the body were hopping up and down by itself.

You can spot a Jiangshi by its furry greenish white moldy skin, and its penchant for wearing the traditional garb of a Qing Dynasty official. Also present is the mystical tag attached to the creature's forehead. And, if heaven forbid you actually find yourself being pursued by one, there are a host of ways to scare it off, including swords made of peach wood, the blood of a black dog and your garden-variety broom, among others!

Source: Wikipedia

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