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15 Creepy Chinese Ghost Horror Stories From Chinese Folklore

In Chinese folklore, there is a wide range of stories and paintings depicting ghosts, monsters, and other types of supernatural beings. According to traditional beliefs, a person takes on a spiritual form after death. Additionally, animals, plants, and even objects can transform into supernatural beings. This is because ancient Chinese believed that humans, animals, and plants couldn’t survive without the nourishment provided by the sky, earth, sun, and moon. Consequently, the sky, earth, sun, and moon must emit essences that are invisible and intangible. Although objects are initially lifeless, with continuous nourishment from these essences over time, they may one day transform and take on supernatural forms

In literature, films, and television, both traditional and modern, it is common to see stories involving ghosts. Some of these stories and characters are quite widely known among Chinese people. For example, the Skin Painting Ghost (画皮), The King of Ghosts – Zhong Kui (钟馗), The Fox Spirit (狐狸精), and so on.

Reading these stories is not only fun, but it also helps us learn about the beliefs, traditions, customs, and folklore of China. However, the problem is that these famous ghost stories in classical Chinese literature are written in classical Chinese (also known as literary Chinese), and even modern Chinese transcriptions for Chinese readers contain words that are difficult for Chinese learners.

Exciting news for Chinese learners: we are here to solve this problem and bridge the gap so that even Chinese learners can enjoy these incredible stories. We will be publishing a series of ghost stories in Chinese with English translations, written exclusively for Chinese learners. All stories are new adaptations of tales from classic Chinese literature such as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang and In Search of the Supernatural.

The fifteen stories are:

1 – 鬼压床 The Ghost Pressing Down on the Bed

一个寻常的夏日午后,一老头吃过午餐感觉有点困倦。他离开饭桌,留他妻子一个人在院子里洗碗,他走进房间里躺下睡午觉。

On an ordinary summer afternoon, an old man felt a bit sleepy after having lunch. He left the dining table, leaving his wife alone in the courtyard washing dishes. He walked into the room to lie down to take a nap.

也不知道睡了多久,他迷迷糊糊地睁开了眼睛,看见一个女人走进屋里来。这个女人年纪大约有30多岁,头上裹着白布,身上穿着丧服。她进来后就直接向里面的房间走去,好像在寻找什么人。

Not sure how long he had slept, he opened his eyes hazily and saw a woman walk into the room. This woman was around 30-something years old. She had a white fabric on her head and wore mourning clothes. After coming inside the house, she walked directly to the room in the back and seemed to be searching for someone.

老头猜想,这个女人可能是同村的,吃过午饭没事做,来找自己的妻子聊天的吧。可是他转念一想,村里没有人过世啊,这女的为什么穿着丧服?就算她的亲人去世了,她也不能穿着丧服跑到别人家里来,这多不吉利啊!

The old man assumed that the woman was probably from the same village, had lunch, and had nothing to do so she came over to chat with his wife. However, he then had another thought. No one had passed away in the village. Why was the woman wearing mourning clothes? Even if her relative passed away, she shouldn’t come to other people’s houses wearing mourning clothes. That is ominous!

……

To read the full story, join the Read, Practice and Improve club.
If you are already a member, click here to download the story.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to our mailing list below to get notified as soon as we publish the book containing all 15 stories on Amazon, Apple Books, and KOBO. Learners on the mailing list will receive early-bird discounted pricing. It is free to sign up. The estimated publication date is June 2024.

2 – 画皮 Skin Painting Ghost

……

听了道士的话,王生不免有些怀疑那个女子。只是,昨夜和她云雨的画面还历历在目,她明明是个美艳的女郎,怎么可能是恶鬼呢?他想,一定是这道士骗他,想要借口帮他除掉恶鬼来骗他的钱财。

After hearing what the monk had said, Wang Sheng inevitably became a bit suspicious of that woman. It was just that the memory of their intimate encounter from the previous night was still fresh and vivid in his mind. She was clearly a beautiful lady. How could she possibly be an evil demon? He thought it had to be the monk wanting to deceive him and was using an excuse to help him get rid of evil demons to swindle money from him.

正胡思乱想着,他不知不觉地走回了家,走到了书房的门口。他发现大门从里面锁了起来,感觉有些奇怪。他蹑手蹑脚地来到窗前,向里面偷看。这一看差点吓得他叫出声来。只见一个怪物正对着镜子梳妆,它面目狰狞,脸色发青,牙齿又尖又长。它慢慢地理好自己的长发。然后把一张人皮铺在床上,拿起彩色的画笔认真地描绘:柳叶眉,含情脉脉的眼睛,樱桃般的小口……画完后,它举起人皮,像穿衣服一样把人皮披在身上,于是就变成了那个美丽的女子。

Lost in wild thoughts, he unconsciously arrived home and found himself at the entrance to the study room. He noticed that the door was locked from the inside. He found that strange. He tiptoed to the window, secretly peeking inside. This glance scared him so much that he almost screamed. He saw a monster looking in the mirror while brushing its hair. It had a ferocious appearance, with a green complexion and teeth that were sharp and long. It slowly brushed its long hair. Then it put a human skin on the bed, picked a color brush pen, and carefully drew: beautiful arched eyebrows, sparkling eyes, a mouth as small as a cherry… after it finished drawing, it picked up the human skin, and put it on as if wearing a piece of clothing, and as a result turning into that beautiful woman.

……

To read the full story, join the Read, Practice and Improve club.
If you are already a member, click here to download the story.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to our mailing list below to get notified as soon as we publish the book containing all 15 stories on Amazon, Apple Books, and KOBO. Learners on the mailing list will receive early-bird discounted pricing. It is free to sign up. The estimated publication date is June 2024.

3 – 无头鬼 The Headless Ghost

在清代有个小县城,该县城具体在哪里,叫什么名字已经无人知晓。但这县城里有两个人,一个姓金,一个姓李,他们俩讲了一个自己亲身经历的故事,这故事十分精彩,一直流传到今天。

During the Qing Dynasty, there was a small town. The precise location of said town or what the town was called, is no longer known. But in the said town, there were two people, one’s last name was Jin, and the other one was Li. They told a captivating story from their own experiences that has been passed down to the present day.

话说有这么一天晚上,李某睡觉前去上厕所。厕所在院子的外面,一条路的旁边。他上完厕所后,正准备回房间时,隐约看到一个老人提着个酒壶在路上行走。这倒是没什么好奇怪的,只是老人后面的不远处还跟着一个壮汉,看起来鬼鬼祟祟的。

It was said that there was this one night, Mr. Li was going to the restroom before bed. The restroom was outside the courtyard, on the side of a road. After going to the restroom, he was about to head back to his room. But then he caught a glimpse of an old man carrying a jug of liquor walking on the road. That itself wasn’t strange, but it was that not too far behind the old man, there was a burly man following him, looking suspicious.

李某感到很好奇,就躲在一棵大树后面,想看看这个壮汉要干什么。老人这时听到了后面的脚步声,回头一看,看见后面的人只长了半张脸。那半张脸上有一只眼睛,半个鼻子和半张嘴。老人吓得大叫了一声。那半脸鬼张开嘴巴,他的牙齿居然是完整的,一半长在脸上,一半悬在空中。老人转身就跑,壮汉紧追不舍,老人脚下一滑,摔倒在地!

Mr. Li was curious. He hid behind a big tree. He wanted to see what the burly man wanted to do. Right then the old man heard footsteps from behind. He turned around and saw that the person behind him only had half of a face. There was only one eye on the half face, half of a nose, and half of a mouth. The old man was so scared that he let out a scream. The half-faced ghost opened its mouth, showing a full set of teeth surprisingly. Half of the teeth were on the face, the other half were floating in the air. The old man turned around and started running. The burly man followed tightly. The old man slipped and fell onto the ground!

……

To read the full story, join the Read, Practice and Improve club.
If you are already a member, click here to download the story.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to our mailing list below to get notified as soon as we publish the book containing all 15 stories on Amazon, Apple Books, and KOBO. Learners on the mailing list will receive early-bird discounted pricing. It is free to sign up. The estimated publication date is June 2024.

4 – 旱魃鬼 Hanba the Drought Demon

Summary: The summer in Jinan was supposed to be a rainy season, yet there was not a single drop of rain for months. The locals believed it was because of Hanba, the Drought Demon.
AL Language Cafe Read, Practice and Improve club members will read and listen to this story on February 27, 2024.

5 – 孤魂野鬼 The Lonely Wandering Soul

Summary: There was nothing that could scare him, so his friends played a prank on him on the day of the Qingming Festival, by putting him in a cemetery. When he woke up, he was surrounded by darkness and was thirsty.
AL Language Cafe Read, Practice and Improve club members will read and listen to this story on April 16, 2024.

6 – 冤鬼
This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

7 – 钟馗杀鬼 The King of Ghosts – Zhong Kui
This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

8 – 狐狸精 The Fox Spirit
This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

9 – 树妖 The Tree Demon
Summary: As they cut into the tree, red liquid bled out. The sky started to rumble with thunder, and heavy rain poured down, seeping into the cut and healing it. How on earth does one cut down a tree like this? Is it even a tree anymore?
AL Language Cafe Read, Practice and Improve club members will read and listen to this story on March 26, 2024.

10 – 水鬼 The Water Demon
Summary: The West Mansion of Ma Town stood vacant for years. It was said that the mansion was haunted, which even drove away the owner’s descendants. Today, Wei Sheng would uncover the truth.
AL Language Cafe Read, Practice and Improve club members will read and listen to this story on April 23, 2024.

11 – 勾魂鬼 – This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

12 – 周氏逢厉鬼 – This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

13 – 亡儿托梦 – This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

14 – 小鬼附身 – This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

15 – 投胎 – This story is currently being created for AL Language Cafe Read, Practice, and Improve club members.

The book containing these 15 ghost and horror stories will be published on Amazon, Apple Books, and KOBO around June 2024. We encourage you to subscribe to our mailing list below to get notified right away when we publish the book. It is free to sign up.

If you can’t wait to get started with stories that are tailored and graded for Chinese learners, then you don’t want to miss our Chinese Graded Readers series:

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