zi bu yu


A Jiangshi, known as the Chinese “hopping” vampire, is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legend and folklore.


It is typically depicted as a stiff corpse dressed in official garments from the Qing Dynasty. Its movement is described to be in hops, with its arms outstretched. It kills living creatures to absorb their qi (force), usually at night, while in the day, it rests in a coffin or hides in dark places such as caves.

However, its appearance can range from recognisable (a recently deceased person), or rather more grotesque (rigor mortis). It is believed that the Jiangshi is so stiff that that it cannot bend its limbs and body, thus it hops with its arms outstretched for stability.

They are depicted in popular culture to have a mystical tag glued onto and hanging off the forehead in portrait orientation, and wear a uniform coat-like robe and round-top tall rimmed hat characteristic of a Chinese official from during the Qing dynasty. 

They are reputed to have greenish-white skin, in theory that it is due to fungus or mould growing on the corpses. They are also described to have white hair all over their head, and they act like animals.

Ji Xiaolan, a scholar during the Qing Dynasty, mentioned in his book Yuewei Caotang Biji the causes of a corpse being reanimated can be classified in either of two categories: a recently deceased person returning to life, or a corpse that has been buried for a long time but does not decompose. 

  • The use of supernatural arts to resurrect the dead, such as necromancy.
  • Spirit possession of a dead body.
  • A corpse absorbs sufficient yang qi to return to life.
  • A person’s body is governed by three huns and seven pos. The Qing Dynasty scholar Yuan Mei wrote in his book Zi Bu Yu that “A person’s hun is good but his po is evil, his hun is intelligent but his po is foolish”. The hun leaves his body after death but his po remains and takes control of the body, so the dead person becomes a Jiangshi.
  • The dead person is not buried even after a funeral has been held. The corpse comes to life after it is struck by a bolt of lightning, or when a pregnant cat (or a black cat in some tales) leaps across the coffin.
  • When a person’s soul fails to leave the deceased’s body, due to improper death, suicide, or just wanting to cause trouble.
  • A person injured by a Jiangshi is infected with the “Jiangshi virus” and gradually changes into a Jiangshi over time.

‘Mong sao sánh được với nàng
Nắm tay đi hết dở dang đường tình
Uyên ương không thể liền cành
Trăm năm không thể bén duyên bạc đầu
Lòng ta đau đớn dạ sầu
Mặc thân tàn tạ mong cầu cõi tiên.’