Chinese Tuesdays: Hopping Qing zombies


A Halloween special for Chinese Tuesdays today, in case you're looking for a costume and haven't considered Chinese zombie.

僵尸 (jiāngshī) literally means "stiff corpse", tautology that it is. They are reanimated corpses, either ancient and undecomposed or freshly undead, but with Chinese characteristics. For one, they wear the robes of Qing dynasty officials. If they catch up with you, they suck your life energy (气 qì) rather than your brains. As their limbs are stiff their arms are outstretched, but their legs are too, so they move by ... hopping. George Romero didn't think this one through.

Jiāngshī can arise when a dead person's 魂 (hún, ethereal yang soul) departs, but their 魄 (pò, corporeal yin soul) remains behind. There are elements of the "hungry ghost" (饿鬼, èguǐ) superstition here, and its origins may also have a connection to the old custom of "corpse walking" to transport dead bodies home (千里行尸 qiānlǐxíngshī). Now jiāngshī are part of the cultural mainstream, with countless films and comics, and additions from Western mythology have been incorporated too, such as vampiric fangs.

For the gentleman Chinese zombie hunter, they have a few useful vulnerabilities. Mirrors are one – they are terrified of their own reflection. Anything made of peach wood will also do the trick, as will the blood of a black dog, the hoof of a black donkey, jujube seeds, glutinous rice, a bāguà (八卦) sign and a rooster's call. Or if you just want to get away from one, well, it can't be that bloody hard, they're hopping.

Here is what a Chinese zombie attack looks like, and more info here. Stay safe readers.