26 Jan 2012


Following on from Monday which saw the beginning of the Chinese New Year today I bring you the so-called Hopping vampire, the chiang-shih, of Eastern mythology.
Apparently it is a tradition in China that corpses be buried in a standing position, that during the Qing dynasty the dead had their legs bound together making it impossible to walk should they rise from the dead. I only tell you this as it is one theory for the term hopping vampire. Another theory, a more gruesome one, being that as rigor mortis set in, the joints became inflexible and thus hopping became the only option.

Then again, the hopping is also said to result from the fact that, like a magnetic force in which positive and negative poles are brought together, the corpse's life energy does not agree with the life energy of the ground and they are literally pushed away every time they try to stay still.

Also known as gyonshi, geung si or. jiang-shi, the hopping vampire is probably best described as a reanimated corpse that, according to folk lore, has a soul (po) that has not departed the body and is in search of sustenance though unlike the Western vampire it is not generally your blood they are after so much as your chi (life energy).

Often portrayed as in a state of decay, depending on how long they have been dead it is not uncommon for these vampires to be depicted as having greenish-white furred skin with white hair covering their heads.

Hmm, my life energy? So how do I prevent a visit by a hopping vampire, garlic, a cross?

No, neither garlic nor a cross will keep the hopping vampire at bay BUT you could always try .......

  • A death  blessing stuck on the forehead - no, not your forehead, the vampires
  • Feng-shui mirrors
  • The urine of a male virgin
  • Sticky rice
  • Chicken blood
  • Holding your breath - believed to be blind, the hopping vampire can find humans by smelling their breath and thus a human remains 'invisible' to the vampire as long as they can hold their breath.
Ok, so presuming I've checked the male is truly a virgin, I've gotten close enough to the vampire to stick a death blessing on its forehead, AND I have some sticky rice as well as some chicken blood does this actually get rid of the vampire?

In a word, no.

To get rid of the vampire you could try the following ........

  • Employ a priest to act on your behalf 
  • Return the body to its rightful home, ensuring proper ancestral worship
  • Using Buddhist magic to bind the body to its coffin though magical lines can be drawn on the coffin to much the same effect
  • Burn the body OR, better still, cause it to explode.
Well, there seems to be several means of joining the Chinese undead, none of which seem to involve being bitten, but might include .........

  • Being cursed
  • Buried in the wrong spot
  • Dying and being buried far from home
  • A violent end - murder victims and those who committed suicide were considered to be at particular risk of becoming a hopping vampire
  • A shock to the system which disturbed the yin. The yin being the still point, the anchor for activity, the resting place of regeneration.
All that said, the chiang-shih is a creature that, though it originated in folk lore, is constantly being updated thanks largely to cinema and, to a certain extent, Westernised ideals and traditions. Indeed it is thanks to the popularisation of modern cinema that the term vampire is used at all, that the chiang-shih has seemingly acquired the flesh-eating and blood-drinking qualities that have earned them the name of Chinese zombies or vampires.

Want to read more Chinese folk lore? Go visit Carol for her post on THE LEGEND OF NIAN.


P.N. Subramanian said...

Found very interesting. I am afraid if I am going to be haunted by vampires tonight !

chitra said...

This is an intersting post. remember seeing a movie where a corpse hops around, can't remember the name though. It was a humorous one.

Mama Zen said...

I've warned people that they better stop disturbing my yin!

carol said...

I've never heard of the hopping vampire before. Interesting post.

carol said...

Thanks for linking to me, by the way.

GMR said...

What an...interesting post. *-* Good thing it's not dark out, or soon....not that I believe in vampires or anything, but geesh! The creep factor is high on that one!

Kelly said...

Geez, I'm not sure I've ever heard of these before. Surely I would remember that term: hopping vampire!! Kinda creepy!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I wonder if Mentos would help? You know... for the breath? LOL

Suko said...

Ah, here is the "chi" post, complete with hopping vampires! I can't say that I've heard of chiang-shih before, but now I feel like a virtual expert!

The Golden Eagle said...

I've never heard of the hopping vampire before; interesting that they don't bite the way so many others do. There are a lot of different vampires in the world!

naida said...

Interesting, I had never heard of a hopping vampire before.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

such an interesting post!

i've never heard of the hopping vimpire before.
thanks so miuch for sharing:)


Alexia561 said...

I've never heard of a hopping vampire either! Wonder if seeing one would be scary or funny?

Jenners said...

It might be hard to be frightened of a hopping vampire!

Mamakucingbooks said...

Ooohhh i really hate this hopping vampire. Cantonese it's called "Keong See". Saw a lot of Chinese movies featuring these Vampire. Very scary. Gives me goosebumps