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Painted Skin
Mom, I’ve almost been eaten up by a monster!
By Sam Chen Posted in Strange Stories on 02/16/2019 37 Comments 3 min read
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Painted Skin

In the Tang dynasty, China, sometime between AD 785 and 855, a man named Shen Wang lived with his wife and son at a bungalow in the west side of the Capital, Chang’an. Wang was a philanthropy-minded person. He planted a large area of elms and built several thatched huts to shelter passing travelers from the wind, rain, and sun. Wang also provided free tea water to travelers in the huts. His son who was 23 years old often went to the huts to help greet travelers.

One day, his son told Wang: “There is a girl begging for water by the side of the road.” Wang quickly asked his son to let her in. The girl was very young. She was dressed in green and wore a white headscarf. The girl said, “I used to live a dozen miles south of here. My husband is dead. We don’t have children. Now the mourning period has passed, and I’m passing by on my way to Maweipo to visit my relatives. ” She was an articulate, lovely, and pretty girl.

Wang kept her for a few meals, saying “You can stay here tonight and hit the road again tomorrow morning.” The girl accepted his offer with pleasure.

After lunch, Wang’s wife led the girl to the back hall and called the girl her sister. Wang’s wife asked her to make some clothes. She found the girl was good at knitting and very fast as well. For half a day, from noon to evening, all the clothes were ready with tiny and exquisite stitches. An ordinary person couldn’t have done it.

Wang was very surprised. His wife liked her in particular, so she said half-jokingly, “You don’t have close relatives. Would you like to be my son’s wife?” The girl smiled, “I am destitute and alone, so I am willing to stay at your house. I will follow your instructions.” The couple was very glad after hearing what the girl had said. Shen Wang went to rent wedding garments at once and arranged a wedding for them. The girl married Wang’s son on the same day.

It was a very hot summer. On the wedding night, the girl told Wang’s son, “There have been a lot of thieves recently. Don’t leave the windows and the door open.” So she locked them.

In the small hours, Wang’s wife was awakened by a nightmare. In the dream, her son shouted to her, “Mom, I’ve almost been eaten up by a monster! ”

Wang’s wife woke Wang up in a hurry and told him the nightmare. He replied, displeased, “You have an amazing daughter-in-law now. Are you too happy, babbling so about your dream?” So Wang’s wife went back to sleep again, and she had the same nightmare. She woke up again and told her husband. This time Wang felt something was wrong and had a sinking feeling. So they got out of bed quickly with candles in hand, shouting their son and daughter-in-laws’ names. However, no one answered.

At this time Wang and his wife were in a panic. They ran to the door of the bridal chamber and tried to open it, but it was locked. They shouted and forced open the door. The moment the door opened, a full-bodied, blue monster with eyes as big as saucers, a green face, and ferocious fangs rushed out. All that was left was their son’s skull and a pile of hair.

Chang'an China Hua Pi Painted Skin Strange Chinese Stories Tang dynasty

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  1. It’s indeed a strange story! How could anyone allow total stranger in his or her house? How could you Married a total stranger? This is a very pathetic story. It’s quite unfortunate that a very good man and his family were paid with evil for their kind gesture and generousity. Though the man should have allowed the lady to sleep with the others they were helping.

  2. Firstly I have a question if this is a fiction or an inspired story? This was really amazing to read about a Chinese story always get me pumped up and I messed around your blog a bit and noticed this is not the first amazing piece of work you’ve dished out this is absolutely brilliant. The painted skin tells a beautiful tale here you really put a lot of work into this, am really intrigued and definitely you will see more of me on your blog.  Very nice Post. Good job

  3. This is a big wow; highly inspiring and intriguing; i must commend you for putting this lovely story together. I actually read every single word in order to see where the story ends. I learnt so many things from the story but the major lesson for me is that parents has a special role to play in their children’s life  and also obedience is the key

  4. A beautiful story. Well written to the smallest detail. Your story depicts that sometimes when you are kind to people, you should also be cautious and wary. The girl shouldn’t have been allowed to stay without checking out her story. The tried to help and then lost their son. Your story shows you are a good fiction writer. i hope to see more of this stories. All the best

  5. I love short little stories like this, that makes sense but at the same time doesn´t. You paint a clear picture of the situation and what is happening in the story. Getting married to strangers is nothing that is uncommon and is in fact happening today, just to reference the previous comment. I like how you  have added this into the story because it is still very common. I like the twist in the end with the monster. I did not see that coming. Your story reminds me of some of the books by Darren Shan, especially the demonata series. You might enjoy reading those if you haven´t already.

    1. Hi, Alexandra. Thank you for your comment and thank you for introducing Darren Shan to me! It is the first time I have heard his name. I’ll find some of his books to read!

  6. That was a very interesting story. I was always told not everything that looks ok is actually ok. Boy oh boy does this story explain that saying. You never know what could be lurking “behind the mask”. 

    I really enjoyed reading your story…..not sure if I should have read it right before going to bed. 🙂

    I will be checking out some of your other stories. Thanks for the interesting read.

  7. I have heard of this story when I was still a kid. Even now I still get goosebumps every time i read it. 

    I think the moral of the story is that only time can tell the heart of a man (or a woman in this case). Never judge a book by its cover!

  8. Hi Sam, I think it’s an entertaining story and it keeps the reader’s attention because it’s well written. No doubt he has a clear black humor. However, I think it is developed in a very accelerated way, I think it can become much more interesting if several other details are described that delay a little the outcome that in the end seems somewhat precipitate.

    1. Hey, Tommy, thank you for your advice! I feel the same way. The story would be more interesting if more details were added. However, it leaves a lot of room for the imagination!

  9. This Strange chines story is so disappointing. It is really painful to know that they welcomed a monster which came to their eyes as a person and without them knowing that this is a devil that has come to steal their sons life. I have got my lesson and i am not sure how to treat people who seam to be in need anymore.

  10. What a sad story. This is the first time am reading a true life story like this on a website. 

    i must say a well done job to the writer of the true life story painted skin

    this story teach me one of the following.dont marry a stranger into your home no matter what

    her/her can be a monster just like in the story or a thief and also don’t take any dream for a joke. Thanks

  11. Hello Sam,

    what a strange and chilly story. I think the family were greedy to marry their son to an unknown stranger. It’s really sad that the son fell victim for a monster which is something he did not bargain for. In retrospect, I’m sure the family would have just given their act of kindness and let the lady go. Thanks for this story, this is what happens when you try to be greedy without looking at all angles.

  12. This story is strange and pitiful. I really feel sorry for the Wang’s family because they were paid with evil despite their good gesture. Learn learnt is that not all things that appears good outside are actually good within or inside and yet not all strangers are evil but strangers should be tested before being trusted and better still let them go their way after rendering help. Pls post more of this stories. I will sure be visiting your blog. 

  13. Wow!  This is a great story!

    It is just like those urban stories that you don`t really know if they are true or not.

    I particularly know, especially in Asia, they have stories like these, monsters and all.  They are usually stories told by the elders to the young ones.  

    Thanks for sharing this, i actually like it.

  14. Thanks for the awesome post! I learned a lot of lessons, one of which teaches me not to be too quick to entertain a stranger as Wang did in that story and lost his lovely son to the hands of that monster. It teaches further that there are beings that are nothing but beasts but pretend to be real humans. 

    Thanks for creating this post for it’s going to help people like me to take caution when it comes to accepting strangers. Doing it without being cautious could be hazardous. Thanks for the awesome job!

    Israel Olatunji

  15. Hi Same,

    What a good fiction story – Painted Skin. I have to read a few times try to understand the moral of the story. It got me intrigued  – l watched a Cantonese Movie (Painted Skin) how a lovely young lady turned into an evil that eats human and in the end, she was killed by her lover.

    I surely check out your site for more interesting stories.

    A good read.

    Thank you

  16. This was a very interesting story. Short, but with an interesting meaning behind it. The meaning I presume being that the couple were a little too generous and too willing to let complete strangers not only into their home, but into their family. The wife called the woman her sister the very afternoon they met, which showed that she got along with the young woman enough to refer to her with that term. And they paid for that naivety. Very glad I found this website! Thanks for posting!

  17. I have read the story about Shen wang and his son very attentively, After reading the story I am feeling sad for that, Shen wang was a philanthropy-minded person. Hies was help to people and traveler, for kind heart he was gave shelter one Cinematography monster, Something bad happened to him that is very sad, He lost his son by the giant girls,

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