Is it possible that even in the neon canyons of Xidan, spirits of Beijing’s imperial past still lurk? A Halloween-inspired post for The Beijinger blog.
On a crisp autumn evening in the early years of the Republican period, a rickshaw puller pulled up outside the Songpo Library on Stone Tiger Hutong in the Western City.
His passenger shuffled out of the carriage, paid his driver, and then vanished. The frightened driver claimed the only thing he saw was a single peacock feather – just like the ones which adorned the hats of Qing officials – floating through the air. Even more mysterious, the coin he took from his passenger was no longer a newly minted “Yuan Shikai” coin, but instead an old copper coin bearing the name of the Shunzhi Emperor, who hadn’t ruled Beijing since the 17th century.