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Since I couldn’t find a photo of the qiang shi, enjoy this photo I took of a panda cub eating an apple.

China is a land of many interesting myths and legends, including that of the quiang shi, a demon that inhabits a corpse and prevents it from decaying by feeding on the blood of other corpses…and on the living.

While some refer to the quiang shi as a “vampire,” it doesn’t resemble any vampire ever described. The quiang shi is covered with white or greenish hair, and has glaring eyes and sharp claws.

The early Chinese were very fearful of these creatures, and believed that an evil human soul only needed a skeleton–or in some cases, just a skull–to become one. Cats were never allowed in the same room with corpses, for if a cat jumped over a body, it would impart its “tiger nature” to the corpse, turning it into the quiang shi. (Why are cats always blamed for everything?) If the sun or moon were allowed to shine on a corpse, the soul might be strengthened enough by the light to feed on the blood of others.

Have you ever heard of these fearsome creatures? Some movie makers have taken extreme license with the legend, calling them jiang shi and depicting them as vampires in traditional Chinese costumes.

For more wonderfully weird stories of China, check out this post about my adventures there last year.

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22 Comments

  1. Susan Scott

    Thanks J.H. – a creature sure to make me quake in my boots.

    Reply
    • JH

      No problem, Susan. I was happy to find such a good “Q.” Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  2. Chrys Fey

    Cute panda! I love pandas so that was a much more enjoyable picture than a quiang shi.

    It’s so interesting that every culture has their version of a vampire. Make you think, doesn’t it? If every culture talks about them in one form or another, maybe they are real…

    Reply
    • JH

      I do find that interesting, Chrys. It’s much the same with Bigfoot legends and UFOs. It may mean that they exist, or simply that people are people, and that it’s human nature to create elaborate explanations for everything we don’t understand.

      Reply
  3. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I’m sure people had a meltdown if a cat even appeared in the same room.

    Reply
    • JH

      Poor kitties! They always get such a bad rap.

      Reply
  4. Patricia Lynne

    That’s a new creature to me. Sounds interesting.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Patricia! I was thrilled to find a good one for Q.

      Reply
  5. C. Lee McKenzie

    That is one scary monster. I’d take no chances on turning a corpse into one of those. I’d even keep the cat out and I love cats.

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too, C. Cats are awesome. Too bad they always get a bad rap. Tiger nature, indeed.

      Reply
  6. Mark

    Excellent choice for ‘Q’, Holli. πŸ™‚ One of my all-time favourite movies is a horror-comedy called “Mr. Vampire” (released in 1985). The Quiang Shi is what they based their vampire on, and it is definitely a different beast if you compare it to North American folklore. No sparkling vampires here, these guys are blind (they “see” human breath to locate victims), they have purple fingernails, white hair, fangs and they hop like a bunny. The vampires can be stopped in their tracks by either sticky rice or spells written on rice paper with enchanted ink. Sticky rice burns vampires, so it can be used to contain them or force them to back off. A spell written on rice paper and tacked to a vampire’s forehead would immobilize it, but if the paper was removed (or if it fell off) the vampire would spring back into action. If you get a chance to watch this movie, I highly recommend it. I can’t vouch for the sequels, but from what I’ve read, they don’t hold a candle to the 1985 original.

    Reply
    • JH

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for commenting, and welcome to my blog. Mr. Vampire was one movie I came across while I was doing my research–I appreciate the recommendation. I think it made the quiang shi appear a lot more humanoid, but it sounds like there are still enough unique touches and folklore to make it interesting.

      I have a high disdain for sparkling vampires. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Tarkabarka

    I heard about them because the first time I played Scion my character (who was the daughter of the Monkey King) had to fight one. It was a tough fight, too! πŸ™‚

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Reply
    • JH

      Well, I should think so. An undead, corpse-sucking monster should be tough!

      Reply
  8. Djinnia

    I knew they were blood-sucking fiends but that’s about all I knew of them.

    Reply
    • JH

      Glad to add to your creature enlightenment, Djinnia.

      Reply
  9. Mary Aalgaard

    Thanks for the education. I have not heard of these creatures, but I can see how they were made into villains. I think cats are so often blamed because they are somewhat evil, and unpredictable, in nature.
    Play off the Page

    Reply
    • JH

      Perish forbid! Cats are not evil at all. Trust me on that. I’ve owned five, and although they all have very distinct, unique personalities, not a single one has been even slightly evil.

      Naughty, yes. Evil? Never.

      Reply
  10. Frank

    I love cats but we blame them for everything because most of the time, whatever we’re looking to blame for, is exactly the kind of thing a cat would do.

    Reply
    • JH

      Hmm…I don’t know about that, Frank. I happen to know someone (not naming names) who always blames the cats for farting.

      I haven’t known them to do that since they were kittens. And even when they did, they couldn’t clear a room.

      I would suspect the same likelihood of cats being able to change corpses into vampires.

      Reply
  11. Sara C. Snider

    Very cool and creepy. Poor cats, though, they always get a bad rap. I’m guessing it’s the eyes. People are like, “can’t trust eyes like that.”

    OR

    They’re like me and suspect that cats are really supreme beings from another planet/galaxy with powers beyond our own. If you displease the cat overlords, who knows what they’ll do… πŸ˜‰

    (I have two cats by the way and adore them.)

    Reply
    • JH

      I can handle the supreme-being theory, Sara. I’ll let that one go. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for commenting! A fellow night owl, I see. We’re all going to be exhausted when this month is over.

      Reply

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