China’s Vampire Lore 

Belief in vampires is not confined to the people of Transylvania, and half-humans able to transform themselves into monsters are no strangers to Chinese folklore. Some tales may be traced back to the third century AD.

Since Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897, this makes a case that vampire folklore may have originated in China and traveled west along the Silk Road almost two thousand years ago.

The Chinese vampire is called a Jiang-shi (also spelled Kaing-shi or Chiang-shih). However, Chinese vampires are different from Dracula or Anne Rice’s vampires.

Chinese folklore says the Jiang-shi is stiffened by rigor mortis and these vampires have to hop to get around. The Jiang-shi also finds its victims by smelling your breath, so if a blood thirsty Jiang-shi is hunting you, stop breathing so they can’t find you.

In the 1980s, there was a series of Chinese vampire movies produced in Hong Kong. The first in the series was Mr. Vampire.

There were a few Taiwanese vampire films, which include The Vampire Shows His Teeth (a series of three films (1984-1986), New Mr. Vampire (1985), Elusive Song of the Vampire (1987) and Spirit versus Zombie (1989).

Vampire stories have become popular in mainland China. Tom Carter, an American author and expatriate living in China, said Twilight is a popular pirated novel and some Chinese Twilight fans are writing their own fan-fiction and vampire stores on Chinese Blogs.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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