Many countries have the culture of ghost. However, different cultures have different stories and belief about ghost.
The conception of ghost was formed long ago in China. Ghost totem came out way back to the early age of primitive society when totem worship emerged. The full interpretation and explanation of the Chinese character â€śé¬Ľâ€ť (ghost) can be found in the oracle bone inscriptions and Shuowen Jiezi (An Analytical Dictionary of Chinese Characters of the Eastern Han Dynasty). Judging from the literal meaning and cultural relics, the concept of â€śghostâ€ť was highly respected, awed and worshiped by the primitives, and some tribes even took â€śghostâ€ť as their first name or last name.
With the spread of Buddhism, the image of ghost grew steadily richer in the folk belief: after people die, they have to cross the abyss bridge, experience the trial of the nether world, undergo six cycles of suffering, and drink â€śMengpo Soupâ€ť to forget the previous life before reincarnation; Zhong Kui is the judge, and then come the Hades and Bodhisattva Kitigarbhaon.
The creation of ghost stories reached its prime time from the Yuan Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. From Qiannv Lihun (A Chinese Ghost Story) and in the Yuan Dynasty to Liaozhai Zhiyi (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio) by Pu Songling of the Qing Dynasty, the ghost stories written by men of letters mostly have vivid and lifelike characters. A large number of beautiful female ghosts thus came into being and were widespread among people. One of the distinct features of Chinese ghost story is to admonish people be nice with others, and that a good act will be well rewarded, while evil will have a vice recompense. It conforms to the Golden Mean of the Confucian doctrine in Chinese culture while not going extremes like Japanese ghost stories.
Talking about ghost on the surface, Chinese ghost stories in fact contains more of truth about human life. Both being the Guards of Impermanence, the Black Guard only brings disaster, while the White Guard brings horror and tension on the one hand, and fortune and good luck on the other hand. It reflects the common view of the public: there are good and evil ghosts, just like human beings.
In Chinese Culture man and ghost can mutually transform. After humans die and become ghosts, they could resurrect and become humans again, or return to the world by reincarnation. While they delineate manâ€™s fear toward death, they also describe manâ€™s longing for eternity and metempsychosis.
The reason ghost culture has existed for such a long time is that it has blended into the mainstream of Chinese culture, having achieved the literal effects of repudiation and admonition. For instance, each of the eighteen levels of hell has a punishment for the different sins committed in the secular world, so that it has the effect of exhortation and remonstration. The ghost marriage of Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei in Peony Pavilion would have the heartfelt admonition for the whole worldâ€™s parents.
In the cultural life of ancient China, the ghost culture covers a wide range. While it depicts folk customs, national character and psychological diathesis, it also combines sorcerer culture, religious culture, court culture, sacrifice etiquettes, etc to highlight various aspects of China, including society, politics, history, philosophy, ethics, literature, language, music, dance, architecture, sculpture, painting, astronomy, medicine, science and technology, and so on. In particular, it has exerted huge influence and played a positive role on various aspects like national character, psychological diathesis, and folk customs including wedding, funeral, festival celebrations, etc.