Tales from the Chinese Crypt is a regular web column exploring bizarre and creepy stories from across China.
Many Cantonese see it as no coincidence that the cursive-like character ‘guang’ (广) outside of Liwan Plaza in Guangzhou bears an uncanny resemblance to the word for corpse (尸). Since 2004, about a dozen suicides have occurred on the premises (the most recent occuring this past April), with some witnesses claiming that a supernatural force seemingly pushed victims over the railings.
The mall’s deadly curse, according to local residents, began many years ago, when it was first constructed. If you’ve ever watched Poltergeist, you’ll know never to build on ancient burial grounds, but you wouldn’t expect a bunch of real estate developers to know that, would you?
Home to a Qing Dynasty sacrificial chamber, inspectors failed to notice eight empty coffins when erecting Liwan Plaza, now a large jewelry market near Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. Unearthed during construction, some say the coffins were the cradle of strange noises and mysterious deaths that kept storefronts ruinously empty.
To counteract the malevolence, architects made the building resemble an octagon, like the bagua.
Eventually, a Taoist priest informed landlords that the empty coffins had originally been buried to thwart evil influences. The catch was that they were not to be disturbed for a thousand years. Whoops.
Since then, several ‘accidents’ have been reported – many on the fifth floor. At least two of the landlords that managed the plaza have allegedly died suddenly of unknown causes, according to some online bloggers.
Despite Guangzhou’s toasty climate, Chinese netizens claim it’s always a few degrees cooler in Liwan Plaza. And just walking through the building at night, they say, brings a chilling feeling of despair.
As with most supernatural affairs, however, no concrete evidence exists to prove the plaza is haunted. Skeptics argue the prevalence of suicides there could be due to Liwan Plaza’s infamous reputation or insensitive media coverage – both of which may facilitate successive suicidal acts.
Regardless, the building’s occupants now mostly consist of non-local business owners happy to make a quick buck while the 'silent' run amok.
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[Cover image via Shadday Studios (WeChat: shadymonkey), in-text image via i.pinimg.com]