Kiangshi

A kiangshi is in Chinese lore, a Corpse that becomes a VAMPIRE demon. Kiangshi means “corpse specter.”

In Chinese lore (as well as Slavic lore), a human being has two souls, one good and one evil. If an unburied corpse is exposed to the rays of either the sun or the Moon, the evil soul will be strengthened and will not depart from the body, but will go forth at night to seek human blood for sustenance.

A folktale tells about a kiangshi that vampirizes a man from Wukiang. Liu N. N., a low-level literary graduate, goes home on holiday to sweep out the tombs of his ancestors. He does this and prepares to return to his post. He instructs his wife to cook him a meal early in the morning and wake him. She does so, fixing some rice and vegetables. But when she calls him, he does not answer. She find him in his room, dead and headless, but without a trace of blood.

The terrified wife tells her neighbours, but they suspect her of adultery and murder, and report her to the magistrate. The magistrate opens an inquest and has the corpse put into a coffin. He arrests the wife and lets her languish in prison for months.

One day one of the wife’s neighbours stumbles upon a neglected grave with the coffin visible and the lid slightly raised. He suspects thieves and summons other villagers. They raise the lid and discover a corpse with the features of a living person and its body covered with white hair. Between its arms it holds a head, which the villagers recognize as Liu. They report their discovery to the magistrate.

Coroners order the head to be taken away, but no one can pry it from the grip of the kiangshi. Finally, the arms of the corpse are chopped off in order to free the head. Fresh blood gushed out of the wounds—but Liu’s head has been drained of every drop of blood by the kiangshi. The corpse is burned, and the wife is released from jail.

FURTHER READING:

  • McNally, Raymond T. A Clutch of Vampires. New York: Bell Publishing, 1984.

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