Chinese Ghost Story
Have heard about Chinese Ghost Story? It's totally different from Western coutry. In keeping with the ghoulish spirit of the season, a classic Chinese ghost story from the book “Liao Zhai Zhi Yi” 《聊斋志异》is famous.
Happy Halloween! In keeping with the ghoulish spirit of the season, I’m going to tell you a classic Chinese ghost story from the book “Liao Zhai Zhi Yi” (《聊斋志异》). Completed in 1680, the book is a collection of 491 short ghost stories written in classical Chinese by author Pu Songling (蒲松龄). “聊斋” is the name of the author’s studio, while “志” means “to make a description” and “异” refers to strange events involving ghosts, fairies, monsters or other supernatural things. The title, therefore, is translated as “Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.” It is widely considered to be one of the best collections of stories written in classical Chinese. Letting his imagination run wild, in his stories Pu created a series of vivid characters: ghosts, monsters and even fox fairies who have similar emotions and personalities as the humans they interact with.
One such story goes: in Zhejiang a young man named Ning Caicheng (宁采臣) was searching for somewhere to stay when he stumbled across an apparently vacant Buddhist temple. There was no sign of any monks and the temple seemed to be in a good condition. At dusk, he finally found another young man there, who he believed to be a scholar. He had been living there for a while; he introduced himself as Yan Chixia (燕赤霞) and welcomed Ning.
At night, Ning climbed into his bed and was just about to fall asleep when a beautiful woman entered his room and asked if she could share his bed. Naturally he was shocked! Remembering his sense of ethics however, Ning rejected her advances and instead threatened to call Yan, who was staying in a room close by. The woman suddenly appeared to be frightened and set out to leave. However, just as she got to the door she turned around and left a piece of gold on Ning’s bed. Ning immediately picked it up and threw it in to the courtyard and said: “the ill-gotten wealth will defile my pocket.” “This man is so cold-hearted,” said the mysterious woman as she was leaving.
The next day, another scholar came to stay in a room at the temple with his servant. The very next morning however the scholar was found dead. A little hole, like a stab wound, was found on the soles of his feet with traces of blood around them. On the third morning, the scholar’s servant was found dead too, with the exact same wound on his feet. Yan told Ning that these murders had been committed by ghosts.
That night, the beautiful woman came to Ning again, but this time with a different purpose. “I have seen many people, but no one is as upright as you. You have the virtues of a saint and I can’t deceive you anymore,” the woman said, “My name is Nie Xiaoqian (聂小倩). I died when I was eighteen and was buried near the temple.” She was a ghost, Ning was sure of it, and despite his horror he continued to listen. It turned out Nie was being controlled by a mysterious monster and was sent to seduce those staying in the temple and would kill them when they gave into her charms. “When I get close to them, I stab their feet to make them pass out, then suck their blood out for the monster to drink. Sometimes, I use gold. It’s not real gold, but the bones of demons. Once the tenants take the gold, it will deprive their hearts and guts,” explained Nie. Just when Ning was about to congratulate himself for not accepting her offers, Nie told him: “Now for the monster, there is no one to kill but you.” Terrified, Ning asked how he could survive another day. Nie told him to stay with Yan, as no ghosts or monsters were able to touch him.
Yan agreed to stay with Ning the next night and put a little box on the window sill before they went to bed. Yan was sound asleep when Ning became more and more frightened. As a black shadow moved towards the window in the middle of the night, a bright object flew out of the box and cut through the stone window frame, shooting towards the shadow. Yan got up and went outside to check. Ning heard him talking to himself: “How dare that big old monster break my box!” Yan then explained to Ning that he was not a scholar but a swordsman, and showed him the object in the box—a small bright sword. He said if it wasn’t for the stone window frame, the monster would be dead by now.
When Ning finally finished with his business affairs, he prepared to leave. He dug the bones out of Nie’s grave and took them with him, hoping to keep her out of reach of the monster. He reburied her near his studio in the countryside and poured a cup of wine in front of her new grave, “You are a poor lonely girl. I buried you near my studio to keep you company, I hope you are not bothered by the monster anymore.” Just when he was about to return home, someone called out: “please wait for me!” Ning turned around and found it was Nie herself, “I couldn’t possibly pay you back for the favor you did for me. Please let me serve you and your mother in the future.” Believe it or not, it is possible for ghosts to gradually become more and more like humans. In the end, Ning married Nie and a few years later even gave birth to a baby boy.
If you want to enjoy Chinese ghost story, this book Liao Zhai Zhi Yi” 《聊斋志异》is recommended to you firstly. You can watch different kinds of ghost stories in China,