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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Zhong Kui -The King of Ghosts!

I love Chinese comics and I love ghost stories.  I was hoping that I might find inspiration from Chinese comics but, sadly, cannot get hold of any of the horror comics.

It also seems my book of traditional Chinese ghost stories went missing years ago without me knowing.

I did remember one name and -voila!  Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhong_Kui

And with a title like "King of Ghosts" how can you not be inspired?



As related on Wikipedia -I remember the story being MUCH longer- this is how Zhong Kui became....

.... the King of Ghosts!!

According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Ping (杜平), a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital. 

Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of "zhuangyuan" was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken. 

Du Ping buried him. 

During his judgment, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong. Intelligent enough to score top honors in the imperial examinations, but damned to hell because he committed suicide. 

The Hell King, judging Zhong Kui,  then gave him the title, as the King of Ghost, forever to hunt, capture, maintain and order ghosts. After Zhong became King of Ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on Chinese New Year's Eve

To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du.



Yes, the story has the ring of many others over the centuries and then in comic books -Jim Corrigan, cop, gunned down and then resurrected by The Higher Power to combat evil.  And Atlas (Seaboard Periodicals) Grim Ghost was a betrayed highwayman, hung and resurrected by Satan to find and bring him evil souls as...The Grim Ghost.

Oh, and here is a tale!

 Zhong Kui's popularity in folklore can be traced to the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang China (712 to 756). According to Song Dynasty sources, once the Emperor Xuanzong was gravely ill. He had a dream in which he saw two ghosts. The smaller of the ghosts stole a purse from imperial consort Yang Guifei and a flute belonging to the emperor. The bigger ghost, wearing the hat of an official, captured the smaller ghost, tore out his eye and ate it. The bigger ghost then introduced himself as Zhong Kui. He said that he had sworn to rid the empire of evil. When the emperor awoke, he had recovered from his illness. So he commissioned the court painter Wu Daozi to produce an image of Zhong Kui to show to the officials. 

This was highly influential to later representations of Zhong. (see image below)



Forgive my ignorance if there has been a comic book adaption of this story but I think "the Black Tower treatment" is needed.  I see a whole Tales of Terror 2015 (volume 5) dedicated to Chinese and Japanese ghosts.  Hmm?



Zhong Kui  by Gong Kai. (c 1222-1304) 

But first, those Green Skies need taking care of!

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