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Jiang Shi (simplified Chinese: 僵尸; traditional Chinese: 僵屍 or; pinyin: jiāngshī) are reanimated corpses that hop around, killing living creatures to absorb life essence (气/氣qì) from their victims.


Literally stiff corpse or zombie. Jiāngshī is pronounced gœngsi in Cantonese, or kyonshi in Japanese.


Depending on how long they have been dead, jiang shi corpses can be in advanced state of decay with greenish-white furry skin and long white hair all over their heads. The influence of Western vampire stories brought the blood-sucking aspect to the Chinese myth in modern times.


Jiang shi are sometimes called Chinese vampires by Westerners, despite the fact that unlike vampires, most jiang shi usually have no self-awareness, consciousness or independent thought, so they are also called Chinese zombies


Jiang shi are said to be created when a person's soul fails to leave the deceased's body, due to improper death, suicide, or just wanting to cause trouble. A supposed source of the jiang shi stories came from the folk practice of Traveling a Corpse over a Thousand Li(千里行屍), where traveling companions or family members who could not afford wagons or had very little money would hire Taoist priests to transport corpses of their friends/family members who died far away from home over long distances by teaching them to hop on their own feet back to their hometown for proper burial. Taoist priests would transport the corpses only at night and would ring bells to notify other pedestrians of their presence because it was considered bad luck for a living person to set eyes upon a jiang shi. This practice was popular in Xiangxi where many people left their hometown to work elsewhere.[ After they died, their corpses were transported back to their rural hometown using long bamboo rods, believing they would be homesick if buried somewhere unfamiliar. When the bamboo flexed up and down, the corpses appeared to be hopping in unison from a distance.Once it was a myth. Some people speculate that the stories about jiang shi was originally made up by smugglers who disguised their illegal activities as corpse transportation and wanted to scare off law enforcement officers.


Jiang shi became a popular subject in Hong Kong films during the 1980s, primarily due to the films of Sammo Hung, including Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) and Mr. Vampire (1985). Some movies even featured both jiang shi and Western zombies. A Jiang Shi is a main character in the 1991 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy III.

In the movies, jiang shi can be put to sleep by putting a piece of yellow paper with a spell written on it on their foreheads. Generally in the movies the jiang shi are dressed in imperial Qing Dynasty clothes, their arms permanently outstretched due to rigor mortis. Like those depicted in Western movies, they tend to appear with outrageously long tongues and long razor sharp black fingernails. They can be evaded by holding one's breath, as they track living creatures by detecting their breathing. They are blind, and lack knowledge.

Because it usually takes decades for a unattended resentful corpse to become a Jiang Shi, they are usually depicted wearing attire identified with the previous dynasty. Their modern visual depiction as horrific Qing Dynasty imperial officials may have been derived by the anti-Manchu sentiment of the Han majority during the Qing Dynasty period, who were viewed as bloodthirsty creatures with little regard for humanity.

When grains or rice, seeds, anything small thrown in the path of a jiang shi, the jiang shi will stop and count the grains of rice. Sticky rice is believed to draw the evil spirit of the jiang shi out. In the film Mr. Vampire, only sticky rice works, and mixing it with regular rice diminishes its effectiveness. Furthermore, the glutinous rice must be in its uncooked form for it to be effective. Other items used to repel jiang shi in films include chicken's eggs (whereas duck's eggs are ineffective), and the blood of a black dog.