Some Chinese vampires

Some Chinese vampires

Jiang shi vampires are anthropophagous and prey on human blood. They are therefore correlated with east-European vampires, or living corpses which break forth from their tombs and attack the living to satiate their cravings for human flesh and blood. Tales about blood-sucking kiang shi have not been found by us in Chinese literature anterior to the eighteenth century, the Zibuyu being for the present the only work we know that has them .

The vampire in love

«A certain gentleman, strong and robust, sojourning in Huguang, lodged there quite alone in an old Buddhist temple. One night he was strolling by very fine moonlight outside the gate, and saw in the grove a being with hazy form, wearing a kerchief after the Tang fashion, and moving so lightly towards him that he could not but take it for a ghost. As it turned to the darkest part of a pine-copse and there entered an old grave, he was fully convinced that it was a jiang shi vampire.

He had heard that such a demon can do no evil when it misses the lid of its coffin. So next night he concealed himself in the grove, to watch its departure and take the lid away. The second watch ended (after 11 P.M.), the corpse came forth indeed, as if for an assignation. He followed it to the gate of a large house, in the garret of which a woman in red had thrown out a white rope from the window, wherewith to draw him up; the spectre seized it and climbed up it, and they engaged in a long conversation without making any peculiar noise.

«Our hero’s first act now was to retrace his steps and steal the lid from the coffin. Having concealed it well, he hid himself again in the deepest part of the pine-grove. Night was about to depart, when the corpse returned hurriedly. Seeing the lid gone, it showed great consternation. It searched for it everywhere, and then ran off by the same road by which it had come. Again our hero followed it. At the storeyed building he witnessed the bounds and leaps of the corpse, and how it gave vent to chattering cries, answered by the chattering of the woman in the garret. She just motioned him off with her hand, as if to signal to him to come back no more, when on a sudden the crowing of the cock was heard, and the corpse fell down flat on the roadside. In the early morning-hour the passers-by gathered to the spot, and all without exception were greatly frightened. They hurried to the storeyed building to satisfy their curiosity: this was the ancestral temple of the Zhou family, where a coffin was kept unburied in the garret, and outside that coffin a female jiang shi was lying. The facts convinced everybody that they had to do with a curious case of irregular commerce between such demons; wherefore they laid them side by side, and burnt them”.

A corpse without head

«Liu N.N., a literary graduate of the lowest degree in Wujiang (in Jiangsu), was in charge of some pupils belonging to the Jiang family in the Yuanhe district. In the season of Pure Brightness he returned home, some holidays being granted him to sweep his ancestral tombs. This duty performed, he would return to his post, and said to his wife: “tomorrow I must go; cook some food for me at an early hour’. The woman said she would do so, and rose for the purpose at cock-crow. Their village lay on the hill behind their dwelling, facing a brook. The wife washed some rice at that brook, picked some vegetables in the garden, and had everything ready, but when it was light her husband did not rise. She went into his room to wake him up, but however often she called, he gave no answer. So she opened the curtains, and found him lying across the bed, headless, and not a trace of blood to be seen.   

«Terror-stricken she called the neighbours. All of them suspected her of adultery with a lover and murder, and they warned the magistrate. This grandee came and held a preliminary inquest; he ordered the corpse to be coffined for the time being, had the woman put into fetters and examined her, but this brought no evidence against her; so he put her in gaol, and many months passed away without sentence being pronounced.

Then a neighbour going up-hill for some fuel, saw a neglected grave with a coffin laid bare; it was quite a sound coffin, strong and solid, and yet the lid was raised a little; so he naturally suspected that it had been opened by thieves. He summoned the people; they lifted the lid off, and saw a corpse with features like a living person and a body covered with white hair. Between its arms it held the head of a man, which they recognized as that of Liu, the graduate. They reported the case to the magistrate; the coroners ordered the head to be taken away, but it was so firmly grasped in the arms of the corpse that the combined efforts of a number of men proved insufficient to draw it out. So the mandarin told them to chop off the arms of the jiang shi. Fresh blood gushed out of the wounds, but in Liu’s head there was not one drop left, it having been sucked dry by the monster. By magisterial order the corpse was burned, and the case ended with the release of the woman from gaol».

De Groot- The religious System of China.

jinuo book

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