Wednesday, 19 October 2011

More Groot

UMass Amherst
I briefly mentioned J. J. M. de Groot's The religious system of China (1892–1910) in a previous post, as a 'useful' source on Chinese vampirism. What I didn't mention, is that the several volumes of the book are available on the Internet Archive.

Vampires (kiang shi) are dealt with in volume one (1892, pp. 44, 106–7) and volume five (1907, pp. 744–61). Interestingly, the latter notes: 'Tales about blood-sucking kiang shi have not been found by us in Chinese literature anterior to the eighteenth century, the Tszĕ puh yü being for the present the only work we know that has them'.1

Usually, I'm very adverse to referring to folkloric beings outside of Slavic culture as vampires, but a 'material' corpse that sucked blood? That's hard to overlook. Even de Groot noted, 'Is this coincident with the vampire-panic (the first known in Europe?) which infested Poland and Polish Russia in the last years of the seventeenth century, spreading rapidly over Bulgaria and Servia, and occupying the minds of scholars and theologians of Europe in the first quarter of the next?'2

His 'Poland and Polish Russia in the last years of the seventeenth century' reference concerns the stryges of Mercure Galant fame. Those, too, were bloodsucking corpses. If there's anything that throws a spanner into my belief that vampires were not universal entities, it's those bloody stryges and kiang shi.

1. JJM de Groot 1907, The religious system of China: its ancient forms, evolution, history and present aspect, manners, customs and social institutions connected therewith, vol. 5, On the soul and ancestral worship, E. J. Brill, Leide [Leiden], 1907, p. 745.

2. ibid., fn. 2.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...