Photo of the Day: China’s Walking Dead

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12:44 AM HKT, Sat April 7, 2018

This week’s photo theme is, well, it’s death. Not because we’re trying to be overly morbid, but because Thursday 5 April was Qingming Festival in China, a day where families traditionally tend to the graves of their ancestors and an occasion often referred to as “Tomb Sweeping Day”.

This freaky Friday image is of Han Ba (or a fictional imagining of Han Ba, obviously), who kicks off the “Deadly Demons” section of Xueting Christine Ni’s excellent run down of Chinese ghosts and ghouls:

We strongly recommend you click in to the full list, but here’s the low down on this friendly-looking guy:

A monster of folklore that causes drought, believed to come from hundred-day-old corpses that don’t decompose, and rise from the earth as Jiangshi (literally “stiff corpse,” or Chinese zombies). Digging up, beating and burning Jiangshi were popular folk customs during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) eras, usually from moist graves in drought areas. This custom continued in areas of Shandong up til the 1960s and features in the Shi Jing, China’s first anthology of poetry compiled by Confucius in the 6th to 5th centuries BCE. In Han mythology, Han Ba is believed to be Pa, the drought fury, the daughter that Huang Di summoned to help him defeat his archenemy Chi You. Pa refused to return to her caves in the mountains and instead wanders the earth.

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