The last of the trio – The Jiang Shi vampire
Since I entered into this whole bloodsucking thing, I figured that I should add something to the tab. This time the spotlight hits the Chinese vampire or better known as the “Jiang Shi” and it translates to “stiff corpse”. This Jiang Shi vampire (commonly classified as such) is quite different from its Western counterpart, but then again, closer to the Slavic vampires that we talked about already. Jiang Shi, like the Slavic vampires, feasts on human life energy (known as “qi” in China) rather than blood. They have no self-awareness or the ability to think – they are being guided by their thirst to murder by detecting a person’s breathing. They, since they are stiff, hop around instead of walking with their arms stretched to grab its victims. Creepy?
The Jiang Shi has more resemblances to the Slavic vampire than we are aware of – they are also strictly night creatures (they slumber during the day in tombs or hollow trees), arise from the inappropriate funeral rites and burial and they attack to kill at random, free of any motive. The looks are similar too: green long hair, completely pale with moss and mold growing on their bodies. To boot, they have long fingernails and tongues to devour their victims.
There are ample causes for one’s awakening as a Jiang Shi:
- The body was not properly buried.
- The person committed suicide.
- Injustice was dealt to the person shortly before its death.
- The person was a troublemaker and a killer.
- The person has been buried alive.
The Jiang Shi has a few differences written too. For one, they are far more monstrous than the Slavic vampire and they cannot talk. Slavic vampires can walk and talk to people despite their monstrous nature and shape shift into wolves, bats and even butterflies. This is something that the Jiang Shi cannot do – he can only hop around with stretched hands and a long tongue.
However, their interaction with people is something that differs. The Jiang Shi can be also summoned by a sorcerer or necromancer that can control him by beating the drum in a rhythmic fashion. They can give them also a purpose (sort of) – during the early years of the Chinese history, due the lack of transportation and means to deliver the corpse to the families, there are superstitions that claim that a Daoist priest can “compel” the spirit of the deceased to go into the tomb that is built for him by turning him into a Jiang Shi.
However, another important issue here is the classification of Jiang Shi – I used the generally accepted opinion, counting him among vampires, but its characteristics differ, making him more of a zombie spirit than a vampire, since he doesn’t drink blood, hops around, has no feelings or ability to talk with moss on its skin proliferating. The soul energy draining makes the Jiang Shi only similar to the Slavic vampire, but nothing above that.
How to kill it?
There are a few funny ways to “stake” him – first, you can throw at him a bowl of rice and then Jiang Shi will start to count the rice, buying a fine window for the escape. Second, you can trip him and when he falls, he is not much different from a tortoise, but you can also keep your breath for a while, so the Jiang Shi won’t notice you. Despite these methods, the one that traveled further from China is the method of vanquishing it with fire.
The Jiang Shi became somewhat a movie star, getting a prominent position in the Hong Kong movie theatre creations and various games across the net – we can see that in publicity, the Eastern vampire doesn’t fall behind its “modern” fellows. We can see that this “Jiang Shi” myth originated from the same fears that ruled in the West – fear of soul never departing the body, inappropriate burial and payback for sins in this life (for reference, see my previous posts on the vampire theme).
The Jiang Shi is different and intriguing enough to “propel” you into further research about this enigmatic beings, at least since they are quite different from the image that rules in the West.