Generally, a Jiangshi's appearance can range from unremarkable (as in the case of a recently deceased person) to horrifying (rotting flesh, rigor mortis, as with corpses that have been in a state of decay over a period of time). The Chinese character for "jiang" (僵) in "Jiangshi" literally means "hard" or "stiff".
It is believed that the Jiangshi is so stiff that it cannot bend its limbs and body, so it has to move around by hopping while keeping its arms stretched out for mobility. Jiangshi are depicted in popular culture to have a paper talisman (with a sealing spell) attached onto and hanging off the forehead in portrait orientation, and wear a uniform coat-like robe and round-top tall rimmed hat characteristic of a mandarin (Chinese official from during the Qing dynasty).
A peculiar feature is its greenish-white skin; one theory is that this is derived from fungus or mould growing on corpses. It is said to have long white hair all over its head and may behave like animals. The influence of western vampire stories brought the blood-sucking aspect to the Chinese myth in more modern times in combination with the concept of the hungry ghost, though traditionally they feed solely on the qi of a living individual for sustenance and in order to grow more powerful.