24 Hopping Vampire – 僵尸 (jiāngshī)

Nga Tran

simplified Chinese: 僵尸; pinyin: jiāngshī

Hopping Vampire


Jiangshi (Chinese: 僵尸; pinyin: jiāngshī) directly translates to “stiff corpse”. The character ‘僵’ (jiāng) means stiff, while the Chinese character ‘尸’ (shī) means corpse. There are multiple iterations of the English name for a jiangshi, such as “hopping zombie” or “hopping vampire”. They may have gotten this name due to corpses undergoing rigor mortis (the process of the muscles getting calcified and stiffening due to a lack of oxygen). With the inability to move their limbs, they move through hopping rather than walking. Their arms are out in front to help with stability. The myth also appears in other parts of Asia; such as South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

These hopping zombies are described as wearing formal Manchu-style clothing from the Qing dynasty known as qizhuang (Chinese: 旗裝, pinyin: qízhuāng, which means ‘banner dress’.) and a Qingdai guanmao (Chinese: 清代官帽; pinyin: qīngdài guānmào). Which is the headwear that is worn by officials in the Qing dynasty. They have pale skin that may either be gray or even green in color due to fungal growth of the body since it is a corpse. It is also a common feature for jiangshi to have queues (A common male Manchu hairstyle) and sharp fangs. The monsters are essentially the result of a person dying without properly severing their ties to the world. There are a variety of reasons why this may happen, such as suicide or dying without a proper burial.

Reanimated corpses were not the only thing that scared people. Along with their frightening appearance, jiangshi believed to feed off of people’s qi. It is also known as people’s life force. Their diets later included blood which was influenced by vampires in Western media. With hopping zombies that brought terror and preyed on people, there were ways that could effectively deter jiangshi from finding their unfortunate next meal. The most well-known method was using a Taoist talisman. It must be attached to the jiangshi’s forehead or hat in order for them to be rendered immobile. However, there are other methods recorded from a book by Yuan Mei in the Qing dynasty, ‘What the Master Would Not Discuss’ ( included the use of acupuncture and nailing seven jujube seeds to the corpse’s acupuncture points on the back. Possessing mirrors and items made from peach wood are also effective ways to repel jiangshi.

The appearance of jiangshi in media is not a new concept, and it likely will not become old either. They have consistently appeared in literature, movies, games, and even songs. A good example would be the song ‘RTRT’ written by Mili. It centers around a jiangshi, mentioning its purpose as a vengeful spirit (or in this case, a zombie), and also includes the types of materials and objects that can repel them, specifically bagua signs. Another notable character that is based on a jiangshi is Qiqi, from Genshin Impact.

“Chinese Hopping Vampires: The Qing Dynasty roots behind the Jiangshi legend.” All About History, 2 December 2015, https://www.historyanswers.co.uk/people-politics/chinese-hopping-vampires-the-gruesome-origin-of-the-jiangshi-legend/. Accessed 28 November 2023.
Clay, Penelope. “Chinese dress in the Qing dynasty.” Powerhouse Museum, http://archive.maas.museum/hsc/evrev/chinese_dress.html. Accessed 28 November 2023.
Guanwei, Liu. “Jiangshi: Beyond the Zombie Legend in Chinese Culture – maayot.” Maayot, https://www.maayot.com/blog/jiangshi-the-incredible-chinese-zombie/. Accessed 28 November 2023.
Wei, Cassie. “Mili (Indie) – RTRT Lyrics.” Genius, https://genius.com/Mili-indie-rtrt-lyrics. Accessed 28 November 2023.
Yuan, Mei. Censored by Confucius: ghost stories by Yuan Mei. Edited by Kam Louie and Louise P. Edwards, translated by Kam Louie and Louise P. Edwards, M.E. Sharpe, 1995. Accessed 29 November 2023.


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Hopping Vampire - 僵尸 (jiāngshī) Copyright © 2024 by Nga Tran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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