“If there’s a woman and she’s pregnant with a kid, if she dies and gets buried, there’s a possibility that the kid is still alive. The tomb will be cursed and the kid will still live and grow and live in the tomb. And the village where the tomb is won’t receive any rain for many years.”
My informant said that this was a folk belief that he had heard, like a ghost story, growing up in China. The informant had little personal relationship to this story, but had heard it repeatedly from a variety of ages. It seemed more region-specific than specific to another group. He offered interpretations of the story both as a regular “spooky story” to tell and as a folk belief in farmers to help avoid or explain away destitute lands.
Ghosts are often reflections of what a culture considers unfinished business or a scar from the past. It’s likely that in this case, we’re seeing part of a natural grieving process for the loss of both the pregnant woman and the unborn child. Because there is a feeling of doubled loss, a supernatural consequence may feel necessary. Additionally, there’s a strong sense in this story that the natural order is being disrupted. Pregnancy is supposed to lead to new life, but it is disrupted here and ends in death. As a consequence, the natural order of the weather is equally negatively disrupted. The curse on the tomb is a curse of no rain and thus no crops.