Guest Article: The Jiangshi by Kyle Van Helsing

The Chinese have a very long tradition of hungry ghosts, monsters, evil spirits, and bizarre happenings that stretch back for thousands of years. They have always believed that evil is lurking in the darkness, even up into the present day. Rituals and prayers are still offered up to their ancestral spirits for good luck and good health. But there are some truly horrible things that hide in the dark of the night, ready to pounce and kill. Among the most horrifying things to come out of this country’s oral traditions and written literature are tales of horrific creatures that were once human, but now rise up out of their coffins at night to feed on the qi (lifeforce) of their victims. These undead monsters share traits with the modern-day notions of the vampire and the zombie, and yet it appears to be neither one. But the carnage and death that it leaves in its wake leaves little doubt that a monster is on the prowl. It is known as the Jiangshi, the “Hopping Corpse” of China.

The Jiangshi appears in legends all over China, but it is also known throughout most of Asia (mainly due to modern cinema). Thus, it is known by a multitude of different (yet very similar) names. These include: Chiang-Shih (which is by far the most common spelling), Kiang-Shi, Kuangshi, Geong-Si (Cantonese), His-Hsue-Kuei (which literally means “Suck-Blood Demon”), Kyonshi (the Japanese name for the creature), Ch’ing Shih, Ch’iang-shih, Giang Shi (Korean), Kiang-Kouei, Kouei, Kuang-shi, Pinyin, Xianh-shi, and Xi Xie Gui. English names for the monster include Chinese Vampire, Hopping Ghost, Corpse-Specter, Hopping Vampire, and Hopping Zombie. The word jiangshi (pronounced “jong-shee”) is derived from the Mandarin Chinese language, and literally means “stiff corpse.” Another common English translation is “blood-sucking ghost.” The Jiangshi is said to haunt graveyards, ancient tombs, and places that are associated with death by the living. The creature is often said to live underground, where caverns and caves are numerous and it can hide during the day and avoid the sun’s rays. Anyone who is brave (or foolish) enough to enter one of these caves may find themselves to be the revenant’s meal. Most often, the creature rests in a coffin or a wooden box within its hiding place.

According to scholars, there seems to be some disagreement or differences in opinion as to what the Jiangshi actually looks like. Most people seem to agree that the creature can seem quite human, especially if the person is recently deceased. This seems to be advantageous to the revenant, drawing its prey in close enough for the Jiangshi to attack. However, Chinese folklore says that the Hopping Corpse may assume other forms that are more powerful and hideous to behold. One such manifestation is described as a ball of flickering light that flies about at night, much like a will o’ the wisp. But the most common form is a tall, gaunt walking corpse with pale, greenish-white skin (which some have suggested may be mold growing on the corpse’s skin). Other times, it is said to be covered in wild white or green hair, although a mixture of the two is not unheard of. It is said that the Jiangshi has a mouthful of serrated, razor-sharp teeth (not unlike those of a shark), long talons on its fingers, glaring eyes that glow an eerie red or green in the dark, and the creature’s breath is so foul that it is able to kill just by breathing into an unfortunate victim’s face. Some say that a phosphorescent green light emanates from the creature’s body (which may again be attributed to a fungus that commonly grows on clothing and burial shrouds). Other sources describe the creature as having bulging eyes and long tongues that hang loosely from the monster’s mouth, both of which might be attributed to decay. On a more bizarre note, some sources say that the Jiangshi is always found to be wearing Qing Dynasty-era burial garments (which may have more to do with the creature’s portrayal in modern cinema than folklore or mythology). One might be pressed to ask exactly how the monster obtains such ancient clothing, but getting close enough to a hopping corpse to ask such a question borders on either great bravery or extreme stupidity.

There is a very unique aspect to the Jiangshi that sticks with the creature wherever it goes, whether in folklore or in cinema. As the creature is an animated rotting corpse, it has an extremely difficult time moving due to the rigor mortis in its body, which is apparently quite painful to the revenant. Due to this, the Jiangshi is forced to hop along its way instead of walking, with its arms outstretched for balance. Another explanation for the creature’s unique means of locomotion can be found in the Chinese belief in the yin and yang, the negative and the positive. The corpse contains a great deal of negative energy (yin), while the earth is filled with positive energy (yang), and thus the two cannot come into contact with each other. Therefore, each time that these reanimated corpses hit the ground, the negative force is repelled by the positive force. In order for the Jiangshi to move and chase its prey, it hops. Others say that this creature jumps around because spikes or nails were driven into the feet as part of the funerary rites. All three are equally valid in theory, and while this hopping may both look and sound hilarious to a person that is unfamiliar with the creature, this monster is not a laughing matter.

Becoming a hopping corpse can be accomplished in a variety of ways, usually through a violent death. Deaths that can create a Jiangshi can occur through murder, hanging, suicide, drowning, being smothered (or suffocated), or dying during the commission of a criminal act. A person who died suddenly or was interred without proper burial rites is also at risk of becoming a hopping corpse, as was somebody who was buried alive. It was also believed that a corpse’s burial was postponed for a long time after death, the dead would become angry and restless, and would be more inclined to take revenge. In fact, one might say that the Jiangshi is literally hopping mad! A hopping vampire can also be created if the corpse isn’t buried in accordance with Feng Shui. Even if a funeral is given but the body remains unburied, a Jiangshi is the most likely result. Black magic, a curse, or necromancy could also create a hopping corpse. If a corpse absorbs enough yang (positive) qi, it may return to life. If sunlight or moonlight were allowed to shine upon a corpse, the yang energy within the light will reanimate the deceased person’s body. According to Taoist beliefs, the body houses two different souls. One is the hun, which is the good and rational aspect of the soul. The hun could leave while the body was asleep and would roam around the countryside, appearing as that person’s doppelganger. The hun is thought to be capable of possessing another person’s body and speaking through it. However, if something bad were to happen to the wandering soul while it was out, the physical body would suffer as a result. The other, the p’o (sometimes called the p’ai), is evil, weaker, and irrational. The p’o is thought to inhabit the fetus at during a woman’s pregnancy, and then is the last aspect to leave upon death. If the p’o fails to leave the body at the time of death, it will seize control of the corpse. This creates a Jiangshi, which is in turn reanimated, preserved, and protected by the p’o. Even the smallest bone can be used by this inferior soul, and even severed body parts (including heads) have been known to become vampires. If the sun or the moon shines fully upon an unburied body, it empowers the p’o, which is certain to become a revenant. If a cat jumps over the corpse (it may be a black cat or even pregnant), it might accidentally “shock” the yin residing within the body. It is also believed that the soul could be snagged by the cat’s hairs, effectively stealing the soul of the deceased.
The Jiangshi is truly a monster in all senses of the word, in regards to both its appearance and its habits. The creature is insanely vicious, driven solely by the hatred it feels towards the living and its hunger for the qi of the living. The creature is mindless in its hunger and attacks when it senses an opportunity, regardless of what consequences that attack might bring. The reason for its madness is that the Jiangshi is thought to epitomize the irrational aspects of the human soul, which makes the creature both vicious and sadistic. This revenant particularly takes delight in ripping the limbs of its prey off one at a time, just for the pleasure it derives from the act. The Jiangshi has an enormous sex drive and has been known to sexually assault women, favoring virgins and nuns because their resulting despair from being raped by a reanimated corpse is pure ecstasy to the creature. Fortunately for the women, death usually comes swiftly afterwards.

Because the Jiangshi fears the light of day, it is forced to hunt at night. However, the creature is actually blind, and so must find its prey through its senses of smell and hearing. Therefore, it is forced to track humans by the scent of their breath and the sound of their breathing. The monster favors ambush tactics, since it has no powers that allow it to entice or otherwise lure its intended prey to it. Once its potential prey is within striking distance, the Jiangshi attacks using its sharp fingernails and its serrated, sharklike teeth to claw and bite the victim to death so that it may drain them of their life. In some cases, the creature may strangle its prey and feed afterwards. Some say that the creature is able to drain a victim’s life essence with but a touch. The Jiangshi’s hunger for the life of others is unending, no matter how many victims it has claimed that night. Because of this hunger, the creature will slaughter and feed upon any travelers that it comes across in its nightly wanderings.

The Jiangshi, unlike many other species of the undead, is not known for being able to physically arise from its grave. And unlike the Vampire in Slavic mythology, the Jiangshi is unable to dematerialize and thus escape from the confines of its own grave. Soil and the coffin that it is buried in further impede the monster’s escape from its imprisonment. Therefore, the transformation from being a lifeless corpse to an undead creature of the night had to take place before burial. This was viewed as being motivation by the Chinese to bury the deceased as soon as possible. Otherwise, a monster would be born and people would begin to die night by night. Fortunately, the Jiangshi cannot create other hopping corpses by feeding on and killing humans.

Although the Jiangshi is most commonly called a vampire (it is frequently called a “hopping vampire” or even “the Chinese vampire”), the creature actually shares only a few traits with the Vampire of European folklore. Unlike its Slavic cousin, the Jiangshi does not actually feed on the blood of its victims, nor is the bloodsucking aspect a part of the original mythology. This notion may have been introduced to the Chinese people when Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) was first released in China. In fact, Dracula himself is referred to in Chinese translations as being a “blood-sucking Jiangshi,” as this aspect was not present in the original mythology. There are a few folktales that make reference to this monster as being a blood-drinker, and one such story is “The Vampire and the Head” (1907), in which a particularly hideous Jiangshi decapitates a man and sucks the head dry of its blood. Undoubtedly, these tales were penned after the Westernization of China began and Western scholars began to study Chinese folklore and mythology. Instead of blood, the Jiangshi feeds on the qi of its victims. To those who are familiar with the martial arts, the qi (called ki in Japan) is the vital energy that flows throughout the human body, which can be focused and used to perform great feats of strength (i.e. breaking concrete slabs or splintering wooden boards). In other words, the creature feeds upon the lifeforce of living beings. The Jiangshi craves this energy (also known as the Spiritus Vitae, the “Breath of Life”), which empowers the p’o and prevents further decomposition in the revenant’s body. To obtain this energy, the creature will drain the victim’s life through a simple touch or a bite to the neck. Other times, it simply tears the victim to pieces and then feeds. Additionally, some sources say that the hopping corpse feeds on human flesh. However, if this is true, it is very rare and practically nonexistent in the original mythology.

The malevolent spirit that inhabits the Jiangshi’s body gives the revenant a number of unnatural powers. The Jiangshi is possessed of supernatural strength and speed, and this is made evident by the delight that the creature takes in ripping off the heads and limbs of its victims. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to escape a hopping corpse on foot. It is reputed to be a shapeshifter, able to take the form of a wolf at will. The creature’s breath reeks of coagulated blood and rotting flesh, and it is so rank that the mere scent of it is both poisonous and lethal to living beings. Since it is blind, the creature’s senses of smell and hearing are unusually sharp. Since it follows the scent of its victim’s breath, the only way to escape it is to hold one’s breath until the creature moves on. This is obviously easier said than done, as holding one’s breath for too long will result in brain damage or even suffocation.

Like some folkloric vampires, the Jiangshi gains greater power as it grows older. Many folktales and legends state that when the Jiangshi’s hair is long and entirely white, the monster has matured and reached the peak of its power. In a sense, the creature evolves. Eventually, the rigor mortis will wear off, granting the creature far greater freedom of movement. And according to legend, the creature’s intelligence and its propensity for evil increase as well (although exactly how intelligent the revenant becomes is unknown). With this increase in strength, the creature is able to leap great distances with an enormous amount of force. Many sources state that the monster gains the ability to levitate and fly through the air at great speeds. In addition, the Jiangshi is said to possess gale-force breath and has very long eyebrows that can be used to capture and bind its victims. These abilities may have more to do with Hong Kong cinema than actual mythology though, and so this information may not necessarily be accurate. The monster also possesses incredibly long and sharp swordlike talons that are extremely deadly. These terrible claws may also be clotted with dirt and the blood of its previous victims, and thus may be capable of infecting victims with disease (if the initial blood poisoning doesn’t kill them first). One folktale, “The Wandering Corpse,” (1907) tells of such a creature’s attack its prey. The creature lunges at the man, but the revenant misses its intended prey (the man passes out from exhaustion and fright) and buries its talons so deeply into a tree that it cannot pull free in enough time to make its way back to its coffin. With the morning dawn, the creature reverts to an inanimate corpse. Local people cannot pull the corpse free, so they end up having to cut its nails in order to place it back into its coffin. Luckily, the victim lived.

Fortunately, as dangerous as the Jiangshi is, the creature has several weaknesses and limitations to its powers. The revenant greatly fears sunlight, and is one of the few undead in folklore that can actually be destroyed by it. It has an intense aversion to garlic, salt (which is believed to be corrosive to the creature’s skin), azuki beans, and sticky rice (which contains yin from the earth, and yang from the sun) and is very much afraid of eight-sided Taoist mirrors (the Jiangshi is said to be absolutely terrified of its own reflection). Some say that the urine of a virgin (usually a boy) will burn the creature’s skin like holy water does to the western Vampire. The reasoning behind this is that boys who are chaste and who have not yet entered puberty carry within them pure yang energy (males are associated with the yang, while females are associated with the yin), and ergo their urine has a negative effect on the creature. However, it is unknown if this is indeed genuine Chinese folklore or if it is something from the Hong Kong movies (although anything is worth a try). According to Li Shizhen’s medical text Bencao Gangmu, “A mirror is the essence of liquid metal. It is dark on the external but bright inside.” The creature is also unable to cross running water, and is said to fear freshly-shed chicken blood as well. Furthermore, it is said that this monster despises and fears the sounds of hand gongs, jingles, and bells (especially if these instruments are forged of copper or bronze). These have much the same effect on the Jiangshi as the sight of a crucifix would on Count Dracula, effectively rendering the monster powerless in their presence. The crowing of a rooster will cause the Jiangshi to flee back to its coffin. According to Yuan Mei’s book Zi Bu Yu, “Evil spirits withdraw when they hear a rooster’s call.” The same book also mentions that jujube seeds can be used against a hopping corpse, saying “Nail seven jujube seeds into the acupuncture points on the back of a corpse.” The text is rather vague about what this will accomplish.

According to the Chinese concept of Feng Shui, a small piece of wood (about six inches in length) installed along the door’s width over a house’s threshold will keep the Jiangshi from entering, although Chinese tradition doesn’t specify what kind of wood must be used. Thunder is said to be frightening to this creature, and is even able to kill it. As mentioned earlier, the creature is blind, and thus completely relies on its senses of smell and hearing while hunting. If a would-be victim holds his breath, the Jiangshi cannot sense his presence and would thus hop right past a potential meal. Sadly, there are few who can hold their breath long enough to elude the creature, and few have the good sense to do so. Interestingly, the hopping corpse is compelled to stop and count tiny objects. This is known as arithmomania, which is a weakness that it shares with the vampires of Central and Eastern Europe. Scattering long-grained rice, seeds, dried peas, or even tiny iron pellets will ensure that the revenant doesn’t stray too far from its grave for the night. If the Jiangshi is still preoccupied with this task at the break of dawn, the morning sun’s rays will destroy it. A circle on the ground of iron filings, red peas, or rice can trap the creature where it stands. In some legends, the Jiangshi is able to be literally swept away back to its grave with a common household straw broom. One could also use the broom to sweep seeds or grain back towards the creature’s grave, and the Jiangshi will undoubtedly follow because of its arithmomania. But while the monster fears thunder, garlic, glutinous rice (sticky rice), and loud noises, the only being that the Jiangshi truly fears is the White Emperor, to whose court the monster must pay homage.

Like any demon or evil spirit, the Jiangshi can be exorcised. This is somewhat safer than destroying the creature, but it is also dangerous. Taoist priests must be summoned to banish the creature from the village that it haunts and expel the negative energies associated with it. The priest prepares special charms made of strips of yellow paper (which can also be red and yellow in color), onto which powerful spells or death blessings in illegible Chinese characters are inscribed with the blood of a freshly-slain chicken (although red ink will also work in a pinch). Then comes the tricky part: the charm must be affixed to the revenant’s forehead (kind of like a sticky note), which is far easier said than done. However, if the priest is successful, the Jiangshi is instantly paralyzed and completely helpless. Of course, every now and then the paper slips off, with catastrophic results (which are used to great effect in Hong Kong cinema). These charms, however, are said to work only on a newly-risen Jiangshi. A hopping corpse at its full power must be dealt with in a completely different and much more dangerous manner. The creature must be captured and buried in a grave in the burial grounds of the ancient ancestors, using Buddhist or Taoist magic to bind the Jiangshi to the gravesite. But as stated before, saying and doing are two completely different things.

In spite of the Jiangshi’s mindless savagery, there are a handful of methods that may be used to destroy the creature. As mentioned before, sunlight is lethal to the Jiangshi. If it is exposed to direct sunlight, the creature will burn into ashes. Decapitation will put the creature down permanently, although getting close enough to deliver a beheading stroke is another matter altogether. For the best results, the monster’s head should be struck off with a traditional Chinese jian (a straight, double-edged sword) or a dao (a curved saber that widens towards the point). According to legend, lightning is fatal to the Jiangshi, but a lightning strike is obviously very difficult to arrange unless one can manipulate the weather to his favor. Interestingly, it is said that upon the monster’s evolution to its stronger white-haired form, the Jiangshi can only be killed by a bullet or lightning (which could alternatively mean the sound of a gunshot or a thunderclap). Assuming that the creature is destroyed, the corpse must be salted and burned to ashes immediately after it is slain to avoid the possibility of the Jiangshi’s resurrection. The Zi Bu Yu mentions that “When set on fire, the sound of crackling flames, blood rushes forth and bones cry.”

Although this revenant is vampiric in its feeding habits, it is highly unlikely that silver, holy icons, or a stake through the heart will have any sort of detrimental effect on the Jiangshi. This is because the creature was created in a culture where Taoism and Buddhism are the dominant religions. However, folklore dictates that monks and heroes have used the martial discipline of kung-fu to fight this revenant. But kung-fu is an exceedingly difficult discipline to master, taking years to gain proficiency and even longer to become an expert. But on the other hand, the speed and skill of a kung-fu practitioner may just give a man a slightly greater chance of overcoming the Jiangshi’s unnatural strength and speed. But there are other weapons that can be used against the hopping corpse. Legends speak of bizarre weapons that can be used to gravely wound the Jiangshi, and monks are quick to use such implements. One of these is the peachwood sword, which is carved from the wood of the Peach Tree. It is used by Feng Shui masters to exorcise demons, dispel dark energies, to drive away ghosts, and to inflict painful wounds upon the Jiangshi. It is mentioned in the Jingchu Suishi Ji that “Peach is the essence of the Five Elements. It can subjugate evil auras and deter ghosts.” Another such weapon is the coin sword. This is made by combining copper coins and red thread, with the thread being used to bind the coins into the shape of a sword. The Chinese believed that, if the sword was made of one hundred and eight individual coins and prayed over by a Taoist priest, it could be used to drive away evil, to destroy ghosts, and to inflict grievous wounds upon a hopping corpse.

According to Chinese history, the Jiangshi’s origins may lie within the Taoist religion. The notion of such a creature may be derived from an ancient Chinese folktale, ”The Corpses Who Travel a Thousand Miles,” also known by the name of “transporting a corpse over a thousand li” (gian li xing shi). It is this story from which the belief arose that, if a person died far away from home and the family could not afford a wagon to bring them back for burial, Taoist priests would be hired to reanimate the corpse. Then, the priest would teach the corpse to hop back to their home village, where the corpse would “die” once again and it would be able to receive a proper funeral and burial rites, and would hence be able to join its honored ancestors and be worshipped by its family. The priests, known as “corpse shepherds,” would only travel with the corpses at night, as it was cooler at night and was thus more ideal for transporting the recently deceased. They would ring bells to let other people in the general vicinity know that they were coming through, as apparently it is bad luck to see one of these corpses. A similar (if not identical) practice is known as Xiangxi Gan Shi, which literally means “driving corpses in Xiangxi.” In Xiangxi (which is where the practice originated), where it was common for people to leave their homes in search of employment elsewhere. When those people died, their bodies would be taken back to their hometowns. The reason for this is because people believed that the souls of the dead (as fickle as they are) would become homesick if they were buried in a place that was unfamiliar to them in life. The corpses would be tied to two bamboo poles from the sides and arranged standing upright in single file. Two men (one in the front and one in the back) would then place the ends of the poles on their shoulders and walk on their merry way. Because bamboo is so flexible, it would appear that the corpses were hopping along their way in unison when seen by a casual observer from a distance.

However, if the folktales are to be believed, every now and then one of these reanimated corpses would become lost on its way home, and the concept of being unable to find eternal rest in the afterlife eventually drove the reanimated corpse insane. At this point, the reanimated corpse became a Jiangshi. It would then proceed to take its revenge by slaughtering any travelers that it happened upon, draining them of their lifeforce, and leaving their grisly, dismembered corpse to be found by another person the next day. To children this creature was nothing more than a bogeyman, a scary story to keep them in bed at night or to make them think twice about going off alone. However, perhaps their parents knew better…
It has been speculated that perhaps thieves invented the legend of the Jiangshi. Such a story would scare off curious locals and law enforcement so that they could continue their smuggling operations in relative peace. But what if they didn’t fabricate this story? Even if such is the case, the smugglers would have readily taken advantage of these legends. They would have probably even dressed for the part, using hideous costumes to frighten away anyone who got too close to their operations. Perhaps even murdering and horribly mutilating those people who became too nosy for their own good would not have been out of the question. Anyone who attempted to investigate the murders would have most likely been dealt the same fate. But what if the Jiangshi isn’t a myth? Is it possible that there is actually something to the legends?

The Jiangshi is definitely unique among the undead in the world’s cultures, and not just because it hops everywhere. It is because the creature possesses traits of both the traditional vampire and the modern-day concept of the zombie. And yet, it seems to be neither one. The hopping corpse seems to have more in common with the zombie portrayed in today’s popular culture in that the creature seems to retain little or none of its human intelligence after the corpse has been reanimated. But like a vampire, this monster is compelled to feed upon the lifeforce of living beings for its own survival. And even though the Jiangshi does become more powerful and seemingly more intelligent in accordance with how long it avoids destruction, it otherwise seems to possess only a modicum of intelligence, perhaps more like animal cunning than anything else. It is likely that this lack of reasoning power is due to the irrational nature of the animating force, the p’o. But what is the Jiangshi? Is it a vampire or a zombie? The evidence says that the Jiangshi is indeed a vampire, but it is not a vampire in the same vein as the more traditional type that one sees in western literature or films such as Dracula (1931), The Horror of Dracula (1958), Fright Night (1985), or even Queen of the Damned (2002). But at the very least, the Jiangshi is a revenant with vampiric tendencies, being driven by little more than animal instincts and its need to drain living beings of their vital energies.
In the end, the Jiangshi is quite possibly one of the most dangerous of the undead. It isn’t a traditional vampire, but neither is it a zombie in keeping with George A. Romero’s ghouls in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Thankfully, encounters with the Jiangshi are practically nonexistent in the twenty-first century because of modern-day burial practices like embalming and cremation. Instead, this frightening creature has been reduced to being late-night entertainment for millions of moviegoers around the world. It has been the focus of films like Midnight Vampire (1936), Vampire Kung-Fu (1972), The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974), Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980), Kung Fu Zombie (1982), Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave (1982), The Trail (1983), Haunted Cop Shop (1984), Curse of the Wicked Wife (1984), Mr. Vampire (1985) and its sequels, Blue Lamp in a Winter Night (1985), Dragon Against Vampire (1985), The Close Encounter of the Vampire (1985), Kung-Fu Vampire Buster (1985), Love Me Vampire (1986), Vampire’s Breakfast (1986), Hello Dracula (1986), A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), Vampires Live Again (1987), Toothless Vampires (1987), Elusive Song of the Vampire (1987), Vampires Strike Back (1988), Vampire vs. Vampire (1989), Spooky Family (1989), Spirit vs. Zombi (1989), Crazy Safari (1990), First Vampire in China (1990), The Ultimate Vampire (1991), Spooky Family II (1991), The Musical Vampire (1992), Robo Vampire (1993), Tsui Hark’s Vampire Hunters (2002), Vampire Effect (2003), Shaolin vs. Evil Dead (2004), Shaolin vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power (2006), and most recently, Rigor Mortis (2013). Many of these films are comedies, particularly Mr. Vampire and its sequels. In fact, it would probably be accurate to say that Hong Kong cinema invented the Jiangshi as people know it today. People actually seem to think that this creature’s use of hopping to get around is hysterical! And to an extent, it is. However, most of these people are either unaware or completely ignorant of the fact that these creatures were once greatly feared and believed to exist by the general Chinese populace. Moviegoers and cinema junkies have no idea that the Jiangshi and the carnage that it is capable of wreaking is no laughing matter.

When all is said and done, there is one question that still remains: does the Jiangshi still stalk the night? Perhaps, somewhere in a remote Chinese village, such a monster is stirring in its coffin. And once the demon has awakened, it will relentlessly wander through the night in search of that one foolish person who deemed it necessary to make any such journey after the sun has gone down. The Jiangshi will feed, and that person will die. The next day, the person’s mangled remains will be discovered. And perhaps only those who know the old legends will suspect that there is a monster in their midst…


This is a complete revision of my original research on the Hopping Vampire, and it would not have been possible if not for the help of a few people. First off, I would like to thank my friend Theresa Bane (one of the few vampire experts in the world) for her clarifications and helping me to separate fact from fiction (what was in the original mythology, and what wasn’t). Secondly, I would like to thank my good friend Anthony Hogg, who not only befriended me, but he has shown me the truth to be found in the folklore behind the vampire in the movies and literature. He also helped me to come to the conclusion that the Jiangshi is indeed a type of vampire. I owe the both of you a great debt of gratitude, and I feel honored to call you my friends. Thank You!!


Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.
Cheung, Theresa. The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires: An A-Z of the Undead. Hammersmith, England: HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright ©Theresa Cheung 2009.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Vampires & Werewolves. Second Edition. New York: Checkmark Books. Copyright ©2011, 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Hardin, Terri, ed. Terrifying Tales: Stories of the Occult from Around the World. New York, New York: Fall River Press. Compilation copyright ©2009, 1995 by Fall River Press.

Hoyt, Olga Gruhzit. Lust for Blood: The Consuming Story of Vampires. Lanham, Maryland: Scarborough House Publishers. Copyright ©1984 by Olga Hoyt.

Kay, Glenn. Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. Copyright ©2008 by Glenn Kay.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp. Copyright ©2006 by Jonathan Maberry.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Third Edition. Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press. Copyright ©2011 by Visible Ink Press.

Suckling, Nigel. Book of the Vampire. Church Farm House, Wisley, Surrey UK: Facts, Figures & Fun Publishing. Copyright ©2008 by Nigel Suckling.

Jiangshi (Wikipedia)

Chiang-Shih (Monstropedia)

The History of Chinese Zombies

Jiang Shi–Hopping Corpses

Hopping Vampires

What I Know About Chinese Vampires

The Chiang-Shih

Chiang-Shih (or kiang shi)


Demon: Chiang-shih (or kiang shi)

Vampires in China

Taoist Priests and Hopping Vampires

Concerning Chinese Hopping Ghosts

Kaiju Shakedown: Hopping Vampires Edition

Bone Flowers: Global Folklore of the Living Dead

A Mystery in Hunan: Walking Corpse

The Vampire Book: The Vampire in China (J. Gordon Melton)

Legend of Jiang Shi: The Hopping Vampire (China)

Chiang-Shih: The Undead Vampire Creatures of Chinese Mythology

The Walking Dead of China (Mysterious Universe)

Article By Kyle Van Helsing.

Source: The Demons Hunter’s Compendium at

I recommend on checking out The Demon Hunter’s Compendium as it holds a vast amount of articles and information about ghosts, cryptids, demons and creatures of legend.
The Jiangshi is the intellectual property of Kyle Van Helsing. Abnormal Realm obtain direct permission from the Kyle Van Helsing to display his work as a guess article. Any reference, comments, or other matters of inquiry contact information for Kyle Van Helsing is available at The Demons Hunter’s Compendium

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