The Jiang-Shi (pronounced "chong-shee"), a creature of legend concieved in China, is a vampire that leaps around, killing living things in order to absorb their life essence (Known in China as "chi"). They are said to be created when a person's soul fails to leave the body, usually due to an improper death, an act of suicide, or the simple desire for trouble. The name "Jiang-Shi" can also be pronounced geungsi (Cantonese), gangshi (Korean), and most popularly kyong-shi (Japanese). However pronounced, the name literally translates to "stiff corpse." Though a Jiang-Shi's true motives are never known or whether or not they are consciousness of their actions, many people would fear and interpret them and their existence as "evil".
The origins of the Jiang Shi can be traced back to the divination of Chinese Taoism and supernatural superstitions. Though there is no uniform principle that all Taoists Priests/Masters follow or use to control the Jiang Shi, as there are many variations from region to region in China which all interpret the practices and customs differently. One common folk practice was the "Traveling a Corpse Over a Thousand Li". In this custom, families who could not afford much in the way of traveling expenses for a deceased family member who died far from home would hire a Taoist priest to transport the body. The priest would tack a talisman to the body's forehead, which would enable the body to find its way back to its original home for proper burial by hopping. Taoist priests would only transport the bodies at night, and would constantly ring bells to warn other nighttime pedestrians that a Jiang-Shi was coming their way; the pedestrians, of course not wanting to be seen by a Jiang-Shi, would vacate the area immediately. To protect themselves, the priests would wear a headdress that had a veil covering their faces; this way, the Jiang-Shi they were transporting would travel alongside them without the temptation to devour the priest.
Such a practice was popular in Xiangxi, where many people left home to find work in other areas. After they died, their corpses were transported back to their rural hometown using long bamboo rods, believing they would be homesick if buried in unfamiliar territory. When the bamboo flexed up and down, the corpses appeared to be hopping in unison from a distance. Some people speculate that the stories about Jiang-Shi were originally made up by smugglers who, like in an episode of Scooby-Doo, disguised their illegal activities as corpse transportation and wanted to scare off local law enforcement.
The look of the Jiang Shi, has been established in popular culture pattern by Hong Kong Cinema and the filmmakers interpretations of Chinese Taoism, supernatural incorporealism and period of events.
One of the most common portrayals of the Jiang Shi was the look of the cloths it wears. Male Jiang Shi, are often depicted wearing an Imperial Manchurian uniform of black or navy blue silk garments, and often embroidered with any number of things, from animals in the zodiac calender to simple patterns. A common hairstyle throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) was the Queue: (Cue) a long braided pigtail that was compulsory for all men to have. A reason as to why the filmmakers portrayed the Jiang Shi in such a fashion was to historically date them in period not to be considered modern.
Wealth also plays a significant reason as to why the Jiang Shi wears the uniform. In Chinese culture, prosperity and success is important not only in life but the afterlife and reincarnation as well. So families would bury their deceased in these fine garbs to show status of wealth or importance.
The movement of the Jiang Shi is probably the most distinctive of all its traits. It moves by hopping, (sometimes with forward outstretched arms). The hopping is the result of rigor morits of stiffness in the body and limbs, thus its rigid movement.
In Video Games
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
The Jiang-Shi is found at the end of the Large Cavern as a secret boss, and also must be defeated to earn Irina's final mission. It moves only by hopping around the room, hoping to hit Shanoa directly. After several hops, the Jiang-Shi will stop, and cast a large white homing orb which does massive damage. After the orb, he will summon a miniature Jiang-Shi using a glyph spell, which can be absorbed in order to earn the same summon spell. As the fight continues, it can become difficult to hit the Jiang-Shi because of the crowd of homing orbs and his constantly-hopping summons. They can be countered, however, as the orbs can be blocked with Melio Scutum, and the miniature Jiang-Shis can be beaten. Once the Jiang-Shi is defeated, he freezes in place, defeated by a small piece of paper with a spell fastened to his forehead. If the Jiang-Shi is hit again, he will come back to life, and the battle begins anew.
In the Darkstalkers series, the character Hsien-Ko and her twin sister Mei-Ling perform a forbidden ritual in an effort to rescue their deceased mother's soul from the demon realm. However, the spell doesn't work as they had intended, and Hsien-Ko is transformed into a Jiang-Shi. Mei-Ling is also transformed and becomes a piece of ward paper attached to Hsien-Ko's hat. Hsien-Ko's powers go out of control if Mei-Ling should become unattached.
Touhou 13: Ten Desires
The 'loyal corpse' Miyako Yoshika, a dim-witted but dutiful jiang-shi, made her debut in Touhou 13. After being brought back from the dead by a Taoist hermit, she attempted to defend the mausoleum where her master was sleeping. Like a typical jiang-shi, she has a paper charm stuck to her forehead, and she has to use a number of skin care products to keep her skin looking healthy. However, she doesn't go out of her way to attack humans, and is more concerned with defending the mausoleum than anything.