The legend of the Ch’iang Shih

CH'IANG SHIH     The Ch’iang Shih (loosely translated as “Hopping Corpse”) has been traced back trough Chinese history for centuries.  Their legends have many similarities to the Vampires from European and Western legends.  The Ch’iang Shih are a nocturnal breed that are known to have difficulties in crossing running water and can be held at bay by garlic.  Known as particularly vicious, The Chi’ang Shih would typically rip the limbs from their victims before stealing the life force from the body.

The legend of the Ch’iang Shih varies from the legends of Western and European regions in an interesting manner.  Further modes of protection from the Ch’iang Shih included the ability to deter them with salt or loud noises; thunder is said to be fatal.  Another way to avoid the creature is to hold your breath as the Ch’iang Shih is blind; it is the sound of the victims’ breathing that seals his fate!  The Ch’iang Shih have ravenous sexual urges, typically drawing them to attack females, however they could be whisked away back into their resting spot by use of a broom, then iron filings, rice or red peas would be scattered on the ground above them as to provide a barrier that is impossible for them to escape.

As the Ch’iang Shih age, much as the Western and European Vampire, they gain strength.  If a Ch’iang Shih ages to the point where his beard grows long and turns white, he will gain the power of flight, some will gain the ability to turn into a wolf.

Though the Ch’iang Shih have mortal characteristics they are physically different from the more typical Vampire.  The “Hopping Corpse” as they are also known, has difficulty walking due to rigor mortis and the pain of death.  Therefore, the Ch’iang Shih hop with eternally outstretched arms, eager to sink their jagged teeth and talons into their next victim.

One well known story found in: The Vampire: His Kith and Kin by Montegue Summers is as follows:

The wife of a teacher named Liu wakes one morning to find her husband, in bed beside her, is dead; his head is missing and the bed is soaked in his blood.  She calls out for help but when the local authorities arrive she is accused of murder and taken away to jail, where she would remain for several months.  Eventually she is exonerated as the result of one of her fellow villagers happening upon a neglected grave that lie on the hillside.  Upon his closer examination, the villager discovered that the coffin had been removed from the grave and was now on the ground beside it with the lid raised ever so slightly.

The Villager would go no closer, he hurried home to gather the community to come and see what he had found.  When the villagers arrived the lid of the coffin was taken away.  There inside was indeed that owner of the coffin, yet he had not decomposed, he appeared just as he was when he had been buried except now, generations later, he was now covered in white hair.  There between his arms rested the head of Liu.  The villagers tried to remove Liu’s head from the creatures riggored grasp, but to no avail.  One of the villagers stepped forward with a sword and removed the creatures’ arms resulting in those nearest the coffin being doused with fresh blood as it spurted from the remaining nubs.  The Ch’iang Shih’s head was then quickly removed and the corpse was set ablaze, prompting the release of Liu’s widow from the village jail.