The Ghost Without Face

My informant CH is a 47 years old Chinese animation film director. He was born and lived in southern part of China, especially Changshu and Nanjing for many years before she moved to the north, Beijing at age 34.

The conversation is in Chinese.


Main Piece:

The Ghost Without Face:

CH: “When I was very young, like 10 years old, I always had a same nightmare over and over again, repeating the same thing every night. In the dream, I was lying on my bed in the same room that I was supposed to be, and I saw a person walking toward me from the door. But the person is always in darkness, so I was very scared and tried to turn o the light. I turned on the light, but the light was vey dim, and was flashing all the time. So I never saw that person’s face.”

The Strange Sound:

CH: “Almost at the same time period, there’s always a strange sound in our home. It sounds like cricket, but it’s not. I can’t really describe the sound for you. I was never sure what it really was. My whole family started to look for the thing that made this sound but we found nothing. Until one day, my uncle from Wuxi came to visit us. I remember, at that time, he was in his prime of life, like forty years old. He snored really loudly at night when sleeping. Interestingly, after he stayed in my home for two days, the sound never appears again. It’s gone.”

“This was the time when my grandpa just past away. I always saw him looking at me, smiling to me. But I was afraid because I knew he was dead. Now I think he was coming back home to see me during night time as a ghost, coming into my dream.”

SH: Do you think the person you mentioned in the first story was your grandpa?

CH: “hmm… It’s not him. It’s a man, a big man.”


Context of the performance:

This is a part of the conversation with my informant CH. He recalled that he didn’t tell anyone about his strange dream until he grew up a little bit. And later on, he would tell these stories in parties when people gathered together talking about ghosts stories or supernatural things, he would always share his own stories.


My thoughts about the piece:

Since the three events were happening close in time, the dream, the sound and Grandpa pass away, CH believed they are in connection. Also, as mentioned in the second story, the uncle somehow “dispelled” the sound, due to the fact that he is a middle age man with strong Yang Qi (Yang spirit), while ghosts are believed to be attracted by Yin Qi (opposite to Yang spirit). Yin Qi is most often accumulated in women and young children. If we put CH’s stories under this Chinese theory to explain human’s relation to supernatural, the stories can therefore be explained.