The Chinese honor their dead out of both respect and fear. And for good reason. An unsatisfied soul could become a ghost and make life unbearable. Whether or not the Chinese truly believe in ghosts, they occupy a large part of their imagination, and the hopping ghost (with its recent star appearances on the Hong Kong movie scene) is the most popular.
What is a hopping Ghost?
Scientifically speaking, it’s an undecayed corpse whose main soul, the po, has not yet left for the other world. Now, a po on the loose in the mortal world is bad news. It turns into an evil spirit. And a po with a corpse to occupy is even worse. It becomes a hopping ghost.
What makes a hopping ghost hop?
Many things, but mostly when a homesick corpse, not wanting to be buried in an unfamiliar village, hops home, po and all. In documented cases, the hopping corpse is often accompanied by an entourage of monks, Taoist priests, and mourners. Yin shock makes ghosts hop, too. The yin, as opposed to the yang, is dark, mysterious, and usually out to make trouble. (Cats and the moon are characteristically yin.) Should a fresh corpse somehow come into direct contact with a yin sort of energy, then it reacts, often becoming charged with superhuman powers. And it hops.
How do you know when you’ve chanced upon a hopping ghost?
It’s not terribly difficult to tell. Despite the corpse’s superhuman energy, rigor mortis does set in, and the joints get stiff enough that it is forced to hop stiffly. According to some reports they have resorted to flying. As for appearances, a hopping corpse usually wears Qing Dynasty burial clothes. As these went out of fashion a hundred or so years ago, the corpses stick out like a sore thumb. And they don’t worry too much about personal hygiene either. One hopping ghost stunk so badly that one whiff killed a relative and knocked another out cold. Some hopping ghosts are uglier than others. Some have tounges that hang down to their chest or eyeballs that aren’t too firmly attached to their sockets. But all hopping ghosts have unusually long fingernails that are their most lethal weapon (especially being on the end of stiff outstretched arms). Hopping ghosts keep best in coffins or caves. They’re not much for sunbathing. In fact, the sun’s first rays are enough to stop a hopping ghost dead in its tracks.
What should I do if I run into a hopping ghost?
Don’t breathe. Hopping ghosts detect humans by smelling their breath. The old clove-of-garlic-keeps-the-ghost-away trick will not work here. You could try pasting a yellow and red Chinese death blessing on its forehead. This will quiet many unsettled souls. In the event that you don’t have the above handy, just whip out any eight-sided Taoist mirror, a straw broom, long-grained rice, or just a few drops of fresh chicken blood. In a few seconds the corpse will be hopping scared.
Just how dangerous are hopping ghosts?
Well, lethal. Normally the hopping ghosts hops forward until it has gouged the victim’s neck and choked him/her to death. This is not a pleasant way to go. In one other case, the hopping corpse preferred to plop down on sleeping people’s heads thereby smothering an entire hotel full of guests.
What can I do to get rid of pesky hopping ghosts?
There’s only one way to do it, and that is to burn them, coffin and all.