Origins of The Chaing-Shih
The chiang-shih is the Chinese version of the vampire. In Chinese belief, each person has two souls, a superior or rational soul and an inferior irrational soul. The superior soul could leave a sleeping body and appear as the body’s double as it roamed about. It could also possess and speak through the body of another. However, if something would happen to the disembodied soul during its journey, its body would suffer.
The inferior soul, on the other hand, was called p’ai or p’o and was that which inhabited the body of a fetus during pregnancy and often lingered in the bodies of the dead. It was thought to preserve the corpse. If the p’ai was strong enough, it could preserve and inhabit a corpse for a length of time, using the body to serve its needs. The body animated by the p’ai was called a chiang-shih.
Usually chiang-shih were created after a particularly violent death, such as a suicide, hanging, drowning, or smothering. It could also be a result of an improper burial, as it was thought that the dead would become restless if their burial was postponed after their death. The chiang-shih were not known to rise from the grave, so their transformation had to take place prior to burial.
Characteristics of Chiang-shihs
Chiang-shihs were nocturnal creatures and had difficulties crossing running water. It was said that they were particularly vicious and ripped the head or limbs off their victims. They were also said to have a strong sexual drive which led them to attack and rape women. The Chiang-Shih are blind, they rely on their ability to sense the breath of their prey to track them. Traditionally the Chiang-Shih were believed to suck the breath (chi, ki, or internal energy whatever you will call it) out of their victims, in more modern movies they are just as likely to suck their blood of their victims. They are also said to hop when they move either because of rigor mortis or of the traditional garments of the Chinese funeral. When The Chaing-Shih would reach it's most powerful form where they had white hair covering their entire body, chiang-shihs would gain the ability to fly, and possibly change into animals.
Protecting Oneself from Chiang-shihs
People protected themselves from chiang-shih by using garlic or salt. They were also driven away with loud noises, and it was thought that thunder could kill them. Brooms were used to sweep the creature back to its resting spot, while iron filings, rice, and red peas were used as barriers. If a chiang-shih reached its flying, white-haired stage, it could only be killed by a bullet or thunder. Its body must then be cremated.