Written by Christian Chan & Edited by Dave Ong and Ervin Llobrera
Hoping everyone is still feeling the Halloween vibe, because not all of these nights as a college student will an F be your biggest fear…
The ghostly season is starting, and as we revel in the distorted, once pagan ritual that is now Halloween, things that go bump in the night come out to play. Yes, we’ve come to know some of these forces: The Westerners have vampires, werewolves, translucent ghosts, and shambling zombies, the Japanese — to give respect to Toushin and Hinomoto — have their numerous yokai from monstrous ogres to sexy lady spirits, and finally, we Filipinos have our aswang, manananggal, kapre, and others.
But note this: even the Chinese have their own ghosts, ghouls, and goblins to join this ever spooky procession, flying above the skies or crossing the streets of your home as you read this article, waiting for the right moment to strike as you suddenly get up, open the door, and —
Anyway, I digress. Let me share some of these things Chinese people believe to go bump in the night. Prepare yourselves, for this article is NOT for the faint of heart.
- Jiangshi, The Chinese Zombie
Every day, he’s shufflin’… and eating brains. This is how I describe the Western zombie. The Chinese ones, despite being undead like their Western “brothers”, don’t walk. Instead, they actually hop. They have stiff bodies, permanently outstretched arms, and the Qing Dynasty officials’ outfit. Their food? Your chi (life force), not necessarily your brains.
There are many ways to become one, including but not limited to dying violently, not being given a proper burial, and having your corpse being struck by lightning. However, as there many ways as there are to become one, there are also as many ways to stop one. One way is to place a talisman of warding off evil on their foreheads (if you can ACTUALLY do that without getting your arm bitten or worse ripped off). Other ways include using the blood of a black dog, a virgin boy’s urine, glutinous rice, and mirrors. Do take note of the last one because they don’t like seeing their own reflections.
DID YOU KNOW? They are a common subject in Chinese movies, and their name literally translates to “stiff corpse”.
- E Gui, the Hungry Ghosts
Most people have heard of Ghost Month from their parents or relatives. The month of bad luck usually falls under the seventh month of the lunar calendar (usually around July to August). It is said that it is during this time that ghosts roam around the world of the living for a month, and the E Gui are no exception.
The hungry ghosts are the souls of people who were too greedy or never satisfied during their lifetime, and they appear as hideous green creatures with bulging stomachs and eternally insatiable appetites.
To protect your household and appease these specters, burn hell money and offer food and drink to the specters.
- Nv Gui, China’s “White Lady”
If the Philippines has the white lady, and her Japanese cousin is supposed to be Sadako, then their Chinese cousin is the nv gui, which literally translates to “girl ghost” or “lady ghost”. They usually wear long white or red dresses.
These ghosts are said to be the souls of women who were mistreated or abused and then committed suicide or have been murdered. They haunt the scene of the crime, and if anyone encounters one, his (or her, but they prefer men) soul will be preyed on by them, especially if he (or she) is one of those people who wronged her in life.
- Shui Gui, Specters from the Deep
The shui gui, which translates to “water ghost”, is the soul of someone who died via drowning, and his or her corpse not yet recovered / buried. They are usually found in bodies of water such as rivers and lakes and will drown a person by pulling his or her leg and then dragging him or her into the deep. Then, the victim takes the ghost’s place while the ghost can choose to either come back to life as a newborn or move on. And the cycle continues on….
Don’t worry though. For those who plan to go for a dip this month, the best way to counter or ward off this ghost is to wear a talisman while swimming.
A Final Word
These ghosts are just some of the many other supernatural things that China has to offer in the ethereal plane. Though we may not see them, some of us can feel them; as always, look around you, maybe behind you, and maybe below you or when you walk the roads of China in the dead of night, because you’ll never know whom you’ll meet and what fate awaits you when you meet the paranormal…
And for those reading this, within or outside the borders of China, in the ungodly hours of the night, I hope you get a good night’s sleep. Happy (post-) Halloween!