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Jiang Shi

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Jiang Shi (simplified Chinese: 僵尸; traditional Chinese: 僵屍 or; pinyin: jiāngshī;
literally "stiff corpse" or "zombie") are reanimated corpses that hop around, killing
living creatures to absorb life essence (气/氣 qì) from their victims. Jiāngshī is
pronounced gœngsi in Cantonese, or kyonshi in Japanese. They are said to be created
when a person's soul (魄 pò) fails to leave the deceased's body, due to improper death,
suicide, or just wanting to cause trouble.[1][2]

Generally their appearance can range from plain ordinary (as in the case of a recently
deceased person) to downright horrifying (i.e. rotting flesh, stiffness, rigor mortis, the
like commonly associated with corpses that have been in a state of decay over a period of
time). A peculiar feature is their greenish-white furry skin; one theory is this is derived
from fungus or mold growing on corpses. They are said to have long white hair all over
their heads[3] and they may be animals.[4] The influence of Western vampire stories
brought the blood-sucking aspect to the Chinese myth in more modern times.

A supposed source of the jiang shi stories came from the folk practice of "Traveling a
Corpse over a Thousand Li" (千里行屍), where traveling companions or family members
who could not afford wagons or had very little money would hire Taoist 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 hometown for
proper burial. Taoist priests would transport the corpses only at night and would ring
bells to notify other pedestrians of their presence because it was considered bad luck for a
living person to set eyes upon a jiang shi. This practice (湘西趕屍) was popular in
Xiangxi where many people left their hometown to work elsewhere.[5][6] After they died,
their corpses were transported back to their rural hometown using long bamboo rods,
believing they would be homesick if buried somewhere unfamiliar. When the bamboo
flexed up and down, the corpses appeared to be hopping in unison from a distance. [7][8][9]
Once it was a myth.[10] Some people speculate that the stories about jiang shi was
originally made up by smugglers who disguised their illegal activities as corpse
transportation and wanted to scare off law enforcement officers.[11]

There may be victims of premature burial.[12]

They are sometimes called Chinese vampires by Westerners, despite the fact that unlike
vampires, most jiang shi usually have no self-awareness, consciousness or independent
thought, so they are also called Chinese zombies

[edit] Jiang shi in film


Jiang shi became a popular subject in Hong Kong films during the 1980s, primarily due
to the films of Sammo Hung, including Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) and Mr.
Vampire (1985). Some movies even featured both jiang shi and Western zombies. A
Jiang Shi is a main character in the 1991 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy III.

In the movies, jiang shi can be put to sleep by putting a piece of yellow paper with a spell
written on it on their foreheads (Chinese talisman or 符, pinyin: fú). Generally in the
movies the jiang shi 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 outrageously long tongues and long razor sharp black
fingernails. They can be evaded by holding one's breath, as they track living creatures by
detecting their breathing.[13] They are blind, and lack knowledge.

Because it usually takes decades for a unattended resentful corpse to become a Jiang Shi,
they are usually depicted wearing attire identified with the previous dynasty. Their
modern visual depiction as horrific Qing Dynasty imperial officials may have been
derived by the anti-Manchu sentiment of the Han majority during the Qing Dynasty
period, who were viewed as bloodthirsty creatures with little regard for humanity.

A Jiang Shi also appeared in Jackie Chan Adventures, in Season 2 Episode 35.

It is also the conventional wisdom of feng shui in Chinese architecture that a threshold
(simplified Chinese: 门槛; traditional Chinese: 門檻; pinyin: ménkàn), a piece of wood
approximately 15 cm (6 in) high, be installed along the width of the door at the bottom to
prevent a jiang shi from entering the household.[14] Sticky rice is believed to draw the evil
spirit of the jiang shi out.[citation needed] In the film Mr. Vampire, only sticky rice works, and
mixing it with regular rice diminishes its effectiveness. Furthermore, the glutinous rice
must be in its uncooked form for it to be effective. Other items used to repel jiang shi in
films include chicken's eggs (whereas duck's eggs are ineffective), and the blood of a
black dog.[15]