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8 Ancient Chinese Ghosts and Spirits – Images Generated by AI

Chinese folklore features a rich variety of ghosts, spirits, monsters and other supernatural creatures. These ancient Chinese ghosts and spirits often appear in Chinese literature work, resulting in rich and varied collection of ghost stories.

Incorporating Chinese ghosts and spirits into Chinese literature work has been a longstanding tradition, and some of the ghost figures and monsters in these literature work have been passed down from generation to generation to the present day. Unfortunately, many Chinese books and paintings were destroyed during wars in recent centuries, resulting in few preserved artworks.

With the advancement of AI technology in image generation, can AI create images of ancient Chinese ghosts and spirits based on textual input? Scroll down to find out what these 8 Chinese ancient ghosts and spirits generated by AI look like.

1 – The Ghost Pressing Down on the Bed 鬼压床

This ghost appears in the renewed Chinese literature work《聊斋志异》Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio written by Pu Songling.

2 – The Ghost with Painted Skin 画皮鬼

The Ghost with Painted Skin, also known as The Painted Skin is a famous ghost story in China. It is one of of the stories from 《聊斋志异》Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio written by Pu Songling, an author in Qing Dynasty. This story features many plot twists, vivid descriptions, and realistic figures. In modern China, this story has been adapted, recorded, and remade into many works in the forms of films and TV series, making the plot of the story known to almost every household.

3 – The Headless Ghost 无头鬼

This ghost is featured in a story written by Huang Junzai (1826 – 1895) in Qing Dynasty.

4 – Hanba the Drought Demon 旱魃鬼

Hanba, also known as the Drought Demon, is a monster that is said to cause droughts according to ancient Chinese legends. The earliest written record of Hanba appeared in The Book of Songs (the oldest collection of Chinese poetry from the 11th century BC to the 6th century BC). In the early era, the Drought Demon had two identities: a god and a demon. Its symbolic representation was a woman wearing green clothing. Starting in the late Han Dynasty, the representation of Hanba had changed into a demon. In the Shandong region, people believed that Hanba evolved from a dead person who had been dead for 100 days. In ancient Shandong, every year when a drought occurred, it was a common custom to whip and burn the newly buried corpses, treating them as Hanba. In some villages in central Shandong, burning Hanba was a custom preserved to the 60s of the 20th century.

5 – The Vengeful Spirit 冤鬼

This ghost is from one of the stories from the Song Dynasty collection of stories Taiping Guangji (Extensive Records of the Taiping Era), compiled between 977 and 978 AD.

6 – The Fox Spirit 狐狸精

In Chinese mythology and legends, animals, through Taoist or Buddhist cultivation, can extend their lives and even change their physical appearance to appear human and relate to them. These animals are commonly referred to as “某某精” (something spirit), such as fox spirits, rat spirits, white snake spirits, centipede spirits, spider spirits, and so on. Among these, fox spirits are the most frequently mentioned in folk tales.

Fox spirits can be male or female, but the most commonly mentioned are female fox spirits. In this story, the fox spirit is a traditional depiction, seducing men and absorbing their vitality through sexual intercourse to cultivate their own magic and extend their lifespan. Therefore, the term “fox spirit” later came to be used metaphorically for a seductive, coquettish woman who is skilled at seducing men.

7 – The Tree Demon 树妖

This demon is from a story from《搜神记》In Search of the Supernatural by the author Gan Bao (? to 336 AD).

8 – The Water Demon 水鬼

This demon is from a story from the Tang Dynasty collection of strange tales 《玄怪录》 Accounts of Mysteries and Monsters by author Niu Sengru (780 AD to 848 AD).

If you want to read stories about these ghosts and other ghosts/spirits from Chinese folklore, then check out the following book, where you will find new adaptations of stories from renowned literary works in China, including Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio 《聊斋志异》, Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang 《酉阳杂俎》, Anecdotes About Spirits and Immortals《搜神记》, and more.

Why do we adapt these classic ancient Chinese ghost stories?

We adapt these stories for a couple of reasons. First, classic Chinese literature is often written in a style that differs significantly from modern Chinese, posing challenges for contemporary readers. Second, some of these works serve not merely as entertainment but as records of extraordinary events and folklore, employing straightforward language without elaborate storytelling. Our new adaptations preserve the original plots while presenting them in modern standard Mandarin with a more engaging narrative. This approach allows readers to enjoy the stories while learning common and useful vocabulary and expressions.

Click on the link to buy the book on Amazon, Apple Books, or KOBO.

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