Author Archives: Wendi Yin

Chinese folk medicine for sty

Main piece:

Me: So what are some other folklore that you have?

B: so, when you have sty, we usually don’t put on anointment, but we usually use a small part of our cloth, clutch the cloth by your hand, and pat your eyes with it.

Me: wow, a new form of cure! Have you ever tried it? Does it work?

B: well, I never got sty, and I don’t think it work.

Me: ok.

Analysis and context:

My friend is a lowkey superstitious person, partly because her hometown is a very small city near Nanjing. She wears special bracelets everyday which work as traditional Chinese amulets. Also, when she performs the folklore, she acts like it’s a very serious tradition. It’s fascinating that she knows way more folklore than I do.

So this is a folk cure. There are many folk cures in China, especially from smaller cities. There are many Chinese mystiques about sty. For example, they used to say that if you see someone naked, you will get a sty.

Chinese folk saying from kids

Main piece:



Your mom’s head is like a ball; I will kick it to the Sipai Building.


This participant is born and raised in China. Growing up, she also absorbed a great load of Chinese folklore from her friends. This folklore piece is very interesting. According to her, this piece is mainly used among younger children, who often use this kind of rhymed saying to curse each other.


The theme of this swear is also related to the tarnishing of mothers. This piece is fascinating in the way that it’s rhymed, and that although the ballad seems violent, hearing this from a kid is very funny and childish, not violent at all.

Annotation: Her version comes from Hefei, but this ballad actually has many different versions throughout China and takes on different localization. For example, the version she gave me utilizes the local building name Sipai Building, while my city’s (I’m from Shenzhen, a southern city) is like “your mom’s head is like a ball, there are mountains, water, and rivers, just like the earth.” My another friend from Chongqing says that he has heard similar folklore when he was young, but his version was “your mom’s head is like a ball, I will kick it to the skyscrapers.”


Shanghai Legend about a haunted shopping mall


Main Piece:

Me: hey Dachui. Can you give me some folklore?

Dachui: yes. So the Xujiahui Shopping mall in Shanghai has been playing that song Sorry My Baby after it closes, for like ten years. They said that where the shopping mall is right now used to be a place where they bury dead infants. Many newborn dead babies are buried there. They said after the mall was built, people could hear babies cry at night. Also, sometimes the toys in the shopping mall got messed up, and some of them even seemed to be bitten by kids.

Me: and then?

Dachui: then one day the shopping mall customer relations people got a geomancer to check out the problem. He said that there were too many ghosts of infants, so playing the song Sorry My Baby would help pacify their ghosts and stop them from messing around. Therefore, the shopping mall started playing the song every time they close the door. And then nothing happens anymore.


I first heard this legend from him during a theater club retreat. During the retreat, everyone sort of started to talk about the ghost stories in their hometown. So I recorded it from him.


My friend Dachui heard about this folklore mainly from his friends and parents. According to him, children would be warned about the shopping mall and to go around the area at night. He was really scared at first, but later when he grew up he didn’t trust it anymore. Later, the shopping mall stopped play that song at night, probably because the “ghosts” don’t come out anymore. The performer doesn’t really believe in the folklore. When he performed it, he tried to be like he wasn’t scared by it at all, but I felt like he must have been so scared by the legend.

Later I searched the original story online, which seems to be slightly different from the version he told me. In the version online, the geomancer later got into trouble with the case and seemed to get hurt from the “ghosts”. However, the end of the story is unknown, because China doesn’t really like the ghost story to haunt that area and the surrounding citizens, (Government control, yea.) indirectly controlling the spread and variation of folklore. Therefore, we don’t really know what happened later.