Dragons, Demons & Jiängshi

Over this past Halloween long time friend & collaborator Gene Ching wrote a delightful post on Kung Fu Demons. You can find that piece in its entirety here: Qi Demons and Kung Fu Exorcists ~ by Gene Ching

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On Jiängshi

The Chinese horror genre is called Jiängshi (殭屍). A jiangshi is Chinese demon that lies somewhere between a Western vampire and a zombie. It’s a reanimated corpse that rests in a coffin by day and comes out to hunt at night, but instead of drinking blood, they suck qi. Just like Dracula has his signature cape, jiängshi are traditionally clad in the robes of a Qing Dynasty official. They are often translated as ‘hopping vampires’ because they can only hop in straight lines. They are also blind and can only find you by smelling and hearing your breath.

Gene Ching

On Dragons

If you’re new to Jiangshi, welcome to the world of Chinese folklore, which is full of mystical creatures, demons, and magic. Like our fantasy realms of elves, ogres, and dragons, Asia has its own unique mythology of jiängshi, nine-tailed fox demons, and of course, dragons. However, it’s a mistake to conceptualize Chinese dragons like western ones. The European dragon is more like a winged dinosaur, an incarnation of the devil, to be slain by Saint George. A Chinese dragon is a chimera-like creature that combines the likenesses of nine beasts: head of a camel. antlers of a stag, ears of a cow, neck of a snake, belly of a clam, scales of carp, claws of an eagle, soles of a tiger, and eyes of a demon. It is an amalgamation of totems representing the nine provinces of ancient China. And nine-tailed fox demons are extremely unique to Asia. Through decades of cultivation, a fox demon can transform itself into a seductive woman. And like a western mermaid or a Celtic selkie, fox demons lure unwitting victims to their demise. Fox demons appear in Pokémon, Naruto, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, to name but a few.

Gene Ching

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