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Jiang Shi: The Hopping Vampire

In Mian county, in China's Shaanxi province, rural folk never venture out of doors after dark. The reason for this is that they fear the Jiang Shi: the hopping vampire.

The Jiang Shi (the name literally translates as 'stiff corpse') is different from vampires in western tradition. It does not drink blood, but rather saps its victims of their 'qi', or life energy. This is the only way the creature can survive. Like western vampires, however, the Jiang Shi can only roam free at night and must return to it its lair, usually a cave or hollow tree, when morning comes.

The Jiang Shi is thought to be a clumsy being which can only move with great difficulty, hopping awkwardly towards its victims with arms permanently outstretched. This is due to rigor mortis. Its appearance is said to be that of a decomposing corpse, with rotting flesh hanging from its undead bones. There are said to be a number of ways a Jiang Shi is created:

*A dead body is not properly buried and so becomes re-animated, though not fully alive.

*A pregnant cat jumps over a body before it is buried.

*A person dies due to violence or suicide.

*A living person is buried alive.

There are also several ways to destroy or evade a Jiang Shi. These include:

*Put a mirror in front of the Jiang Shi. It's said that when confronted with its own reflection the creature will finally realise it is dead and all remaining 'qi' will leave the body.

*A sharpened peach wood branch can be used to kill a Jiang Shi, as peach wood holds sacred significance in traditional Chinese beliefs.

*A Jiang Shi can also be killed with fire.

*A Jiang Shi detects the living by following after their breath (closely related to 'qi' in Chinese thought). Holding one's breath therefore makes one invisible to a Jiang Shi.

P A McHugh

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