“Respect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them.”──by Confucius
In China, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the ‘Ghost Month,’ in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm.
There are many references to ghosts in Chinese culture. Many Chinese people today consider that it is possible to contact the spirits of their ancestors through a medium, and that the ancestors can help their descendants if properly respected and rewarded.
These are some traditional Chinese paintings of ghosts painted by Luopin (罗聘), who is one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou and famous for his unique paintings of ghosts.
Here is a list of supernatural beings in Chinese folklore and fictional culture. But this list only contains common supernatural beings who are inherently “evil” in nature such as ghosts and demons, or beings who are lesser than deities. There are also ghosts with other characteristics.
There is also a famous book named 聊斋志异 (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio), which is a collection of nearly five hundred mostly supernatural tales written by Pu Songling (蒲松龄) in Classical Chinese during the early Qing Dynasty.
One of the most well known story in it is called “The Ethereal Spirit of a Beauty;” many people know it because of the famous movie “A Chinese Ghost Story,” which is based on this story.
Ning Caichen is a timid tax collector whose job requires him to travel to rural areas. He arrives at a town but is forced to seek shelter in a deserted temple in the forest on the outskirts as the inns are fully occupied. That night in the temple, Ning meets a beautiful and alluring young maiden called Nie Xiaoqian and falls in love with her. However, when he later recalls last night’s events the next day, he becomes increasingly fearful and superstitious. That night, he returns to the temple to spend his night there and confirms his theory that Nie is actually a spirit.
Nie tells him her story of how she became eternally bound to the servitude of a sinister Tree Demon. She explains that as long as her remains are buried at the foot of the tree, her spirit will be forever bound to the Tree Demon. Ning attempts to free her from her suffering. He seeks the help of a powerful Taoist priest and master swordsman called Yan Chixia, whom he met earlier. Yan battles the Tree Demon and attempts to free Nie’s soul but fails. Nie’s soul is taken to the Underworld for betraying her master.
Ning is unwilling to give up on Nie and insists that Yan helps him. Yan manages to open a temporary portal to the Underworld. Ning and Yan enter the Underworld and attempt to free Nie’s soul from suffering once more. They are unable to find her in the midst of thousands of other spirits. Eventually, Ning and Nie are able to see each other briefly near dawn when sunlight shines on the urn containing Nie’s cremated remains. Nie tells Ning that the only way to save her soul is to place her remains to rest at another more auspicious burial site before she returns to the darkness. Ning follows her instructions and with Yan’s advice, Ning buries Nie’s remains near the crest of a hill. He burns a joss stick for her and prays for her soul while Yan watches solemnly behind him. [Wikipedia]