And before anyone freaks out from the title. No I’m not leaving the site. I have three reviews left for the Games section and some features to do, but this is my last Daily Pulse. I’ve been prepping people for the Change to Nyogtha for the past fortnight, and this will continue the momentum. I’m going to answer a few questions based on letters, posts to my blog, and posts in the fan forum thread which can be found here. But enough chit chat, let’s do the writing you’ve come to read.
I have a lot of questions from Mike Zundian so I’ll do one in this column.
1.What can you tell me about Chinese Vampires?
A lot actually. The most common vampire found in Chinese folklore is the Chiang-shih also spelled as Kiang-Shi
The Chinese concept of vampires and vampirism has to do with their own particular belief that every person has not one, but two distinct souls. The first was the superior/rational soul, and the second was the inferior/irrational soul. The Superior soul looked exactly like the body, and upon separation from the flesh (such as when the body of the person in question was sleeping), the Superior soul could wander around as the exact double of the physical form. The Superior soul also had the ability to possess the flesh of others for a short time and speak through them. If anything happened to the Superior Soul on its travels, it would also happen to the flesh.
The Inferior soul is what we’re really going to be talking about. This is called the p’ai or alternatively, the p’o. This is the soul that is created while the fetus evolves during pregnancy. When the p’ai leaves the flesh, the body disintegrates. Once could say the P’ai is the physical spirit and the Superior soul is the spirit of the mind. Occasionally however, the p’ai would linger behind in a corpse, preserving it for a longer period of time that humans were used to see. The body animated by the p’ai is the Chiang-Shih.
Often times the Chiang-shih appeared perfectly normal and it was not until it acted like a vampire that its true nature was revealed. In other tales, the Chiang-shih would assume a green phosphorescent glow, gain serrated teeth, and long sharp talons.
The Chiang-Shih originated following a violent death or suicide. Rare occurances of the Chiang-shih also came about when someone died suddenlyand unexpectedly, or when the burial procedures were done incorrectly. The final way to become a Chiang-shih involved animals jumping over the corpse.
Unlike the Eastern European vampire we all know and love, the Chiang-Shih lacked the abilities to turn into mist, bat, or dust. It was unable to rise from its grave (insert Altered Beast voiceover here) under normal means. The transformation into a vampire would have to occur before it was buried, explaining why the Chinese had such quick burials of their dead. Once in the ground, the Chiang-Shih was trapped forever. Like the Slavic undead, the Chiang-Shih also could not cross running water and was limited to nocturnal activities (also like the pre 1922 European Vampire, Sunlight could not kill the Chiang-Shih. It just was dormant during this time unless it had to be awake.)
The Chiang-Shih were far stronger than mortals. They were known to rip off the heads and limbs of their victims and there are best remembered in tales of old for their supernatural homicidal behavior. Unlike the European vampire which had powers of seduction, the Chiang-shih would leap out and surprise their victims, and if they were female, were also known to rape them. As the Chiang-Shih grew older, it would grow stronger as well. They would be able to dwell outside of a coffin, gain the ability to fly, grow enormously long white hair, and some could even take the form of wolves.
There were several ways of keeping the Chiang-shih away. Garlic was the most prevalent way. Garlic is an almost universal undead deterrent, no matter the culture. Salt was another way to keep the Chiang-shih at bay. Salt acted as a corrosive to their skin. Thunder, or other equally loud noises could kill a vampire from the shock value. Brooms were a great offensive weapon against the Ciang-shih. Yes, a broom. You could literally sweep a Chiang-shih back to its resting place. However, with their tendency to well, rip people apart, that wasn’t an option many chose to try. Finally, iron fillings, rice and red peas could be placed around their coffin to keep a Chiang-shih from claiming it as their resting place.
If any Chiang-shih managed to reach their fully transformed state, then you would need thunder, fire, and even sometimes a bullet to slay the vampire.
The Chiang-shih is one of China’s most written about creatures. In the 17th Century, famous Chinese author P’u Sung-ling (best known for his work Liao Choi wrote a short story called “The Resurrected Corpse.”
This story talks about four merchants spending a night at an inn. In the barn of the inn was the innkeeper’s daughter’s corpse, which was awaiting burial. One of the four merchants could not sleep, so he stayed up reading by candlelight. The corpse, now a Chiang-shih approached the three sleeping men and bit them. The fourth man who was awake was paralyzed with fear and appeared to be asleep to the Chiang-shih. As it approached him, he screamed and ran into the night, with the Chiang-shih in hot pursuit.
The merchant finally fled and ran into a willow tree. The Chiang-shih launched itself at him, but the man dodged and the vampire drove its’ talons so far into the tree it was stuck. The merchant fainted and the next day the innkeeper’s staff found her body on her usual resting place in perfect condition, but covered with blood. When they discovered the three dead merchants, they realized she was a Chiang-shih. It turned out she had actually died six months ago and her body was preserved by her p’ai and the innkeeper had been waiting for a more complementary day astrology wise to bury her.
Mike also asked “What’s with the hopping?” Mike, I hate to break it to you, but the Chinese “Hopping vampires” are a media creation, not something steeped in folklore. The hopping vampires actually started in the 1980’s by Hong Kong film studios Golden Harvest and Paragon Films. The loose robed hopping vampires first appeared in the 1985 comedy film Mr. Vampire. It was so popular it spawned four sequels and a Japanese TV series.
The hopping vampires were just ludicrous. Magical Talismans could ward them off. You could temporary evade them by holding your breath. Eating sticky rice was the cure for being bitten. Although these films have only been around for 2 decades, they have created a modern vampire image that has become prevalent in Chinese forethought in the same way Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula changed the image of the Western vampire from that point on.
George Metcalf writes,
You mentioned the Lilin, what are they? Are they related to Lilith, the first woman on earth that had some vampire-like qualities? Recalling Lilith reminds me of suckubuses, as seen on South Park. Think she’s the basis for such an idea? Is Lilith that misogynistic an idea?
By the way, am I the only one that misses Hammer’s gothic horror or any horror in the same vein as Dark Shadows? I mean, what the hell happened to monster movies? I mean teh most recent horror flick that I enjoyed was the original Vampire Hunter D. 20 years since the last good horror movie? Or am I being too critical in my demands for film?
Sorry about being all over the place in the last paragraph and thank for reading my rambling,
P.S. Why aren’t werewolves seen as second-tier to vampires? Werewolves always seemed baser and more tragic, ripe with untold stories. I mean, no one has had to kill their vampire son, but plenty have had to kill their werewolf son. This is good stuff y’know.
The Lillin are the spawn of Lilith. Let me flesh out the full idea for readers who only know of that name from the Lillith Fair tour.
Lilith is one of the most famous characters in all of Hebrew Folklore. She started as a Sumerian storm and night demon that was part of a group of demons including Ardat Lilu and Irdu Lili who would be the cornerstone for what would become the vampire myth that would spread across the globe.
She also appeared in the Gilgamesh Epic as a vampire who was both barren and milkless. She was described as a mazingly beautiful but had the feet of an owl due to her nocturnal nature. In Gilgamesh, Lilith left her home on the Euphrates River and settled in the desert. She is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible/the Old Testament here. In Isaiah 34:14, “Lilith shall repose there and find her place of rest,” refers to God’s day of vengeance when land shall be laid waste into desert.
Lilith is best known however, for her appearance in the Talmud. Lilith was in fact the first wife of Adam. There was a disagreement over which gender was dominant and who would be on top sexually. Adam insisted on being dominant and on top, so Lilith flew away (using magic) to the red sea and took up with a coven of demons and spawned the Lilin, also known as Limin. There three angels came to Lilith, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof and an agreement between Lilith and God was reached. Lilith would be able to feed like a vampire off babies, but could not harm a baby guarded by an amulet bearing the names of the three angels listed above.
Lilith still was attracted to Adam and so returned to Eden. There she encountered Adam’s second (some say third, but that is a tale for another time) wife, eve. Lilith took the form of the snake and the rest was history. Once thrown from the safety of Eden, Lilith and the Lilim attacked and raped Adam and Eve in their sleep, and caused them both to father and mother demons.
From this act, Lilith spawned the concept of the succubus, a vampiric like demon who drained energy from its victims by having sex with them while they slept.
Lilith has remained a strong part of Jewish folklore even while Christianity has ignored her. Her entire biography was finally written in the 10th century, in a book called the Zohar. Again, here we see her as more a succubi than a vampire.
Nowadays Lilith is only treated as real by more conservative Hebrew Sects, and more a point of scholarly philosophizing or debating over what she is a metaphor more by other Jewish groups and Theologists.
As for your other questions, Big budgets and short attention spans = crapfests like Van Helsing and Underworld. And werewolves are second tier to vampires because it’s all about sex. If you want to have sex with a werewolf, you’re basically a furrie. But for some reason, no one is offended by necrophilia. That’s basically what it boils down to.
Next week I’ll answer more questions from folklore and ancient legends. I’ve got a good stack piling up, so don’t worry. Every question WILL be answered eventually.
Ah Chicken. Quick to make, and yet thousands of recipes exist for it, making it the most versatile meat around. Here’s a nice recipe that can be done in an hour and shows how to complement the meat in question with a nice sauce.
Chicken with Bacon and Mushrooms
4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt.
Pepper to taste
1 8 ounce package of sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons brandy or chicken broth
1 8 ounce container of sour cream.
Chopped fresh chives.
1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels. Set Aside.
2. Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from skillet. Add chicken to remaining drippings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until browned, turning chicken once. When browned, push over to one side of the skillet.
3. Add mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir three minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to low. Add Brandy or chicken broth. Cover. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is fork tender and juices run clear. Remove chicken from skillet and place on serving platter. Cover.
4. Add the sour cream to the same skillet. Cook over low hear until thoroughly heated. Stir constantly. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with bacon and chives.
There you go. Probably my most simple, down to earth, palatable even by country bumpkins recipe I’ve put in here yet.
Ashley Simpson lip synchs and Chris Pankonin showed me the footage last night. Times like this I watched TV.
Laflin writes about sports. I preferred it when he wrote about games.
And that’s it for this week. Keep the letters coming and I’ll continue my streak as the Fraser Crane of IP. Next week the column gets a face lift and goes fully fledged into Things That Should Not Be…