From PhalkeFactory

Jump to: navigation, search



For other uses, see Vampire (disambiguation). For treatments of the vampire legend in fiction, see Vampire fiction.

Count Orlok from Nosferatu

Vampires are mythical or folkloric creatures, typically held to be the re-animated corpses of human beings and said to subsist on human and/or animal blood (hematophagy), often having unnatural powers, heightened bodily functions, and/or the ability to physically transform. Some cultures have myths of non-human vampires, such as demons or animals like bats, dogs, and spiders. Vampires are often described as having a variety of additional powers and character traits, extremely variable in different traditions, and are a frequent subject of folklore, cinema, and contemporary fiction. Vampirism is the practice of drinking blood from a person/animal. Vampires are said to mainly bite the victim's neck, extracting the blood from a main artery. In folklore and popular culture, the term generally refers to a belief that one can gain supernatural powers by drinking human blood. The historical practice of vampirism can generally be considered a more specific and less commonly occurring form of cannibalism. The consumption of another's blood has been used as a tactic of psychological warfare intended to terrorize the enemy, and it can be used to reflect various spiritual beliefs. In zoology, the term vampirism is used to refer to leeches, mosquitos, mistletoe, vampire bats, and other organisms that prey upon the bodily fluids of other creatures. This term also applies to mythic animals of the same nature, including the chupacabra.


• 1 Etymology

• 2 Vampires in ancient cultures

• 3 Folk beliefs in vampires

o 3.1 Slavic vampires

o 3.2 Romanian vampires

o 3.3 Roma and vampires

o 3.4 Other Old World vampires

o 3.5 New World

o 3.6 Asia and the Pacific

• 4 Eighteenth century vampire controversy

• 5 Contemporary belief in vampires

• 6 Traits of vampires

• 7 Natural phenomena that propagate the vampire myth

o 7.1 Pathology and vampirism

o 7.2 Finding vampires in graves

o 7.3 Vampire bats

• 8 Vampires in fiction

• 9 Sources

• 10 See also

• 11 External links


English vampire comes from German Vampir, in turn from early Old Polish *vąper' (where ą is a nasal a, and both p and r' are palatalized), in turn from Old Slavic *oper (with a nasal o) or Old Church Slavonic opiri. The Slavic word, like its cognate netopyr' ("bat"), comes from the PIE root for "to fly". The word Upir as a term for vampire is found for the first time in written form in 1047 in a letter to a Novgorodian prince referring to him as 'Upir Lichyj' (Wicked Vampire).


Tales of the dead craving blood are ancient in nearly every culture around the world. Vampire-like spirits called the Lilu are mentioned in early Babylonian demonology. These female demons were said to roam during the hours of darkness, hunting and killing newborn babies and pregnant women. One of these demons, named Lilitu, was later adapted into Jewish demonology as Lilith. Lilitu/Lilith is sometimes called the mother of all vampires. For further information, see the article on Lilith.

The Ancient Egyptian goddess Sekhmet in one myth became full of blood lust after slaughtering humans and was only sated after drinking alcohol colored as blood. In Homer's Odyssey, the shades that Odysseus meets on his journey to the underworld are lured to the blood of freshly sacrificed rams, a fact that Odysseus uses to his advantage to summon the shade of Tiresias. Roman tales describe the strix, a nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood. The Roman strix is the source of the Romanian vampire, the Strigoi, which was also influenced by the Slavic vampire, and the Albanian Shtriga. In early Slavic folklore, a vampire drank blood, was afraid of (but could not be killed by) silver and could be destroyed by cutting off its head and putting it between the corpse's legs or by putting a wooden stake into its heart. Medieval historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded the earliest English stories of vampires in the 12th century. Many vampire legends also bear similarities to legends regarding succubi or incubi.


It seems that until the 19th century, vampires in Europe were thought to be hideous monsters rather than the debonair, aristocratic vampire made popular by later fictional treatments. They were usually believed to rise from the bodies of suicide victims, criminals, or evil sorcerers, though in some cases an initial vampire thus "born of sin" could pass his vampirism onto his innocent victims. In other cases, however, a victim of a cruel, untimely, or violent death was susceptible to becoming a vampire. Most of the European vampire myths have Slavic and/or

Romanian origins.

Slavic vampires

The Slavic people including most east Europeans from Russia to Bulgaria, Serbia to Poland, have the richest vampire folklore and legends in the world. The Slavs came from north of the Black Sea and were closely associated with the Balts. Prior to 8th century AD they migrated north and west to where they are now. Christianisation began almost as soon as they arrived in their new homelands. However, through the 9th and 10th centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the western Roman Catholic Church were struggling with each other for supremacy. They formally broke in 1054 AD, with the Bulgarians, Russians, and Serbians staying Orthodox, while the Poles, Czechs, and Croatians went Roman. This split caused a big difference in the development of vampire lore - the Orthodox church believed incorrupt bodies were vampires, while the Roman church believed they were saints.

Causes of vampirism included being born with a caul, teeth, or tail, being conceived on certain days, irregular death, excommunication, improper burial rituals etc. Preventative measures included: placing a crucifix in the coffin, or blocks under the chin to prevent the body from eating the shroud, nailing clothes to coffin walls for the same reason, or piercing the body with thorns or stakes. In the case of stakes, the general idea was to pierce through the vampire and into the ground below, pinning them. Certain people would bury their potential vampires with scythes above their necks, so the dead would decapitate themselves as they rose. Evidence that a vampire was at work in the neighbourhood included death of cattle, sheep, relatives, neighbours, exhumed bodies being in a lifelike state with new growth of the fingernails or hair, or if the body was swelled up like a drum, or there was blood on the mouth and if the corpse had a ruddy complexion. Vampires could be destroyed by staking, decapitation (the Kashubs placed the head between the feet), burning, repeating the funeral service, holy water on the grave or exorcism.

Romanian vampires

Tales of vampiric entities were also found among the ancient Romans and among the Romanized inhabitants of eastern Europe, Romanians (known as Vlachs in historical context). Romania is surrounded by Slavic countries, so it is not surprising that Romanian vampires are similar to the Slavic vampire. They are called Strigoi based on the ancient Greek term strix for screech owl, which also came to mean demon or witch. There are different types of strigoi. Strigoi vii are live witches who will become vampires after death. They can send out their soul at night to meet with other witches or with Strigoi morţi who are dead vampires. The strigoi morţi are the reanimated bodies which return to suck the blood of family, livestock, and neighbours. A person born with a caul, tail, born out of wedlock, or one who died an unnatural death, or died before baptism, was doomed to become a vampire, as was the seventh child of the same sex in a family, the child of a pregnant woman who did not eat salt or who was looked at by a vampire, or a witch. Moreover, being bitten by vampire, meant certain condemnation to a vampiric existence after death. The Vârcolac which is sometimes mentioned in folklore was more closely related to a mythological wolf that could devour the sun and moon (similar to Fenris in Norse mythology), and later became connected with werewolves rather than vampires. The person afflicted with lycanthropy could turn into a dog, pig, or wolf. The vampire was usually first noticed when it attacked family and livestock, or threw things around in the house. Vampires, along with witches, were believed to be most active on the Eve of St George's Day (April 22 Julian, May 4 Gregorian calendar), the night when all forms of evil were supposed to be abroad. St George's Day is still celebrated in Europe. A vampire in the grave could be told by holes in the earth, an undecomposed corpse with a red face, or having one foot in the corner of the coffin. Living vampires were found by distributing garlic in church and seeing who did not eat it. Graves were often opened three years after death of a child, five years after the death of a young person, or seven years after the death of an adult to check for vampirism. Measures to prevent a person becoming a vampire included, removing the caul from a newborn and destroying it before the baby could eat any of it, careful preparation of dead bodies, including preventing animals from passing over the corpse, placing a thorny branch of wild rose in the grave, and placing garlic on windows and rubbing it on cattle, especially on St George's & St Andrew's days.

To destroy a vampire, a stake was driven through the body followed by decapitation and placing garlic in the mouth. By the 19th century people were shooting a bullet through the coffin. For resistant cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned, mixed with water, and given to family members as a cure.

Roma and vampires

Even today, Roma frequently feature in vampire fiction and film, no doubt influenced by Bram Stoker's book "Dracula" in which the Szgany Roma served Dracula, carrying his boxes of earth and guarding him. Traditional Romani beliefs include the idea that the dead soul enters a world similar to ours except that there is no death. The soul stays around the body and sometimes wants to come back. The Roma myths of the living dead added to and enriched the vampire myths of Hungary, Romania, and Slavic lands. The ancient home of the Roma, India, has many mythical vampire figures. The Bhut or Prét is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wanders around animating dead bodies at night and attacks the living like a ghoul. In northern India could be found the BrahmarākŞhasa, a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. Vetala and pishacha are some other creatures who resemple vampires in some form. Since Hinduism believes in reincarnation of the soul after death, it is supposed that upon leading an unholy or immoral life, sin or suicide, the soul reincarnates into such kinds of evil spirits. This kind of reincarnation does not arise out of birth from a womb, etc, but is achieved directly, and such evil spirits' fate is pre-determined as to how they shall achieve liberation from that yoni, and re-enter the world of mortal flesh through next incarnation. The most famous Indian deity associated with blood drinking is Kali, who has fangs, wears a garland of corpses or skulls and has four arms. Her temples are near the cremation grounds. She and the goddess Durga battled the demon Raktabija who could reproduce himself from each drop of blood spilled. Kali drank all his blood so none was spilled, thereby winning the battle and killing Raktabija.

Sara, or the Black Goddess, is the form in which Kali survived among gypsies. Gypsies have a belief that the three Marys from the New Testament went to France and baptised a gypsy called Sara. They still hold a ceremony each May 24 in the French village where this is supposed to have occurred. Some refer to their Black Goddess as "Black Cally" or "Black Kali". One form of vampire in Romani myth is called a mullo (one who is dead). This vampire is believed to return and do malicious things and/or suck the blood of a person (usually a relative who had caused their death, or hadn't properly observed the burial ceremonies, or who kept the deceased's possessions instead of destroying them as was proper). Female vampires could return, lead a normal life and even marry but would exhaust the husband. Anyone who had a hideous appearance, was missing a finger, or had animal appendages, etc., was believed to be a vampire. If a person died unseen, he would become a vampire; likewise if a corpse swelled before burial. Plants or dogs, cats, or even agricultural tools could become vampires. Pumpkins or melons kept in the house too long would start to move, make noises or show blood. (See the article on vampire watermelons.) To get rid of a vampire people would hire a Dhampir (the son of a vampire and his widow) or a Moroii (the much rarer living, as opposed to undead, offspring of two vampires) to detect the vampire. To ward off vampires, gypsies drove steel or iron needles into a corpse's heart and placed bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial. They also placed hawthorn in the corpse's sock or drove a hawthorn stake through the legs. Further measures included driving stakes into the grave, pouring boiling water over it, decapitating the corpse, or burning it. According to the late Serbian ethnologist Tatomir Vukanović, Roma people in Kosovo believed that vampires were invisible to most people. However, they could be seen "by a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday who wear their drawers and shirts inside out." Likewise, a settlement could be protected from a vampire "by finding a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday and making them wear their shirts and drawers inside out (cf previous section). This pair could see the vampire out of doors at night, but immediately it saw them it would have to flee, head over heels."

Other Old World vampires • In Ancient Greece and Medieval Bulgaria the Lamia had the upper body of a woman, the lower body of a winged serpent and craved blood (especially the blood of women). Medieval and later Greek folklore features the vrykolakas, (which is now considered synonymous with "vampire"). • In Moravia, vampires were fond of throwing off their shrouds and attacking their victims in the nude. • In Albania, a type of vampire known as the Liogat or sampiro was supposed to be the reanimated corpse of Albanians of Turkish descent. It was covered in a shroud and wore high-heeled shoes. The only way to vanquish it was to have a wolf bite its legs off so it would never rise again from its grave. • In Bulgaria, a vampire had only one nostril and slept with his left eye open and his thumbs linked. It was held responsible for cattle plagues.

New World

• In Aztec mythology, the Civatateo was a sort of vampire, created when a noblewoman died in childbirth. • Later Mexican vampires were easily recognizable by their fleshless skulls. • In the Caribbean, vampires known as Soucoyah in Trinidad and Tobago, Ol' Higue in Jamaica, and Lagaroo in Grenada, take the form of old women during the day, and at night shed their skin to become flying balls of flame who seek blood. They were said to be notoriously obsessive-compulsive, and could be thwarted by sprinkling salt or rice at entrances, crossroads and near beds. The vampire would feel compelled to pick up every grain. They could also be killed by rubbing salt into their discarded skin, which would burn them upon returning to it before morning. • The Rocky Mountain vampires sucked the blood out of its victim's ears using its pointed nose. • Brazilian vampires had plush-covered feet.

Asia and the Pacific

• India is home to beliefs in a spirit called the vetala, a wraithly vampire that can leave its host body to feed. • In Japan, the kitsune is a vampiric shapeshifting fox-spirit that takes its origins from both Chinese and Indian mythology. Kitsune may be either maleficent or benevolent, or both; kitsune are said to drain the life-force of its victims after charming them or becoming their lover, in similar fashion as succubi or incubi. Oni myths also have similarities with Western vampire legends. There are also tales of kamaitachi, a phenomenon where it was said that evil gods would thirst for human blood. • The Chinese vampire, the hopping corpse (jiāngshī), has more in common with Western ideas of corporeal zombies or ghouls but is still depicted as draining the victim of blood. • In Philippine folklore, the Manananggal was a female vampire whose entire upper body could separate from her lower body and who could fly using wings. She sucked the blood of fetuses. The Aswang was believed to always be a female of considerable beauty by day and, by night, a fearsome flying fiend. She lived in a house, could marry and have children, and was a seemingly normal human during the daylight hours. • In Malaysian folklore, the Penanggalan was a vampire whose head could separate from its body, with its entrails dangling from the base of its neck. The Pontianak was a female vampire that sucked the blood of newborn babies and sometimes that of young children or pregnant women. • In Australian aboriginal mythology, the yara-ma-yha-who is a creature with octopus-like suckers on its fingers that it uses to suck blood.


During the 18th century there was a major vampire scare in Eastern Europe. Even government officials frequently got dragged into the hunting and staking of vampires. The word vampire only came into the English language in 1732 via an English translation of a German report of the much-publicized Arnold Paole vampire staking in Serbia. It all started with an outbreak of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1725 to 1734. Two famous cases involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole. As the story goes, Plogojowitz died at the age of 62, but came back a couple of times after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the next day. Soon Plogojowitz returned and attacked some neighbours who died from loss of blood. In the other famous case, Arnold Paole, an ex-soldier turned farmer who had allegedly been attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After his death, people began to die, and it was believed by everyone that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbours. These two incidents were extremely well documented. Government officials examined the cases and the bodies, wrote them up in reports, and books were published afterwards of the Paole case and distributed around Europe. The controversy raged for a generation. The problem was exacerbated by rural epidemics of so-claimed vampire attacks, with locals digging up bodies. Many scholars said vampires did not exist, and attributed reports to premature burial, or rabies. Nonetheless, Dom Augustine Calmet, a well-respected French theologian and scholar, put together a carefully thought out treatise in 1746 in which he claimed vampires did exist. This had considerable influence on other scholars at the time. Eventually, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria sent her personal physician to investigate. He concluded that vampires do not exist, and the Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and desecration of bodies. This was the end of the vampire epidemics. By then, though, many knew about vampires, and soon authors would adopt and adapt the concept of vampire, making it known to the general public.


Belief in vampires still persists across the globe. During late 2002 and early 2003, hysteria about alleged attacks of vampires swept through the African country of Malawi. Mobs stoned one individual to death and attacked at least four others, including Governor Eric Chiwaya, due to a belief that the government was colluding with vampires.[1] In Romania, several relatives of Toma Petre dug up his body, tore out his heart, burned the organ and drank its ashes in water in February of 2004, thinking that he had become a vampire.[2] In January 2005, it was reported that an attacker had bitten a number of people in Birmingham, England, fueling concerns about a vampire roaming the streets. However, local police stated that no such crimes had been reported to them, and this case appears to be an urban legend.[3] In the modern folklore of Latin America, the chupacabra (goat-sucker) is said to be a creature that feeds upon the flesh or drinks the blood of domesticated animals, leading some to consider it vampiric.


• Vampires, being already dead, do not need most normal things required for human life, such as oxygen. They often have a pale appearance, and are cool to the touch from the perspective of humans. • Vampires are sometimes considered to be shape-shifters, though this feature is more commonly present in fiction than in the original folklore. • Some vampires can fly. Sometimes this power is supernatural, other times it is connected to the vampire's ability to turn into flying creatures (e.g., bats, owls, flies) or into lightweight forms (e.g. straw, dust, smoke) and then create winds as a means of propulsion. • Vampires typically cast no shadow and have no reflection. This mythical power is largely confined to European vampiric myths and may be tied to folklore regarding the vampire's lack of a soul. In modern fiction, this may extend to the idea that vampires cannot be photographed. • Some tradititions hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless he or she is invited in. This concept has been referenced throughout the history of vampire fiction (from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Christabel, through Bram Stoker's novel Dracula to Stephen King's novel 'Salem's Lot). Generally, however, after the first time the vampire is invited in he or she can come and go as desired. • Vampire powers are often limited during the day or in daylight. In some cases sunlight may burn or kill vampires, or they may be comatose during the day. • Vampires may be reluctant to enter or cross bodies of water, particularly running water. • Some tales maintain that vampires must return to their native soil before sunrise to take their rest safely. Others place native soil in their coffins, especially if they have relocated. • Vampires in some tales have very specific dietary requirements while others do not. However, most tales of the undead feature vampires that cannot eat (or at least cannot gain nourishment from) normal human food. • Werewolves are sometimes held to become vampires after death, and vampires are frequently held to have the ability to transform themselves into wolves. Many popular books and movies of today tell a story of hatred between vampires and werewolves that would result in the death of one of them if they ever met. • There are things in which vampires have no power against such as garlic, a branch of wild rose, and all things sacred (e.g., holy water, a crucifix, a rosary, or sacred objects from other faiths). This weakness fluctuates depending on the tale. Garlic is confined mostly to European vampire legends. In myths of other regions, other plants of holy or mythical properties sometimes have similar effects. Holy water and other holy symbols depend upon the culture. In Eastern vampiric myths, vampires are often similarly warded by holy devices such as Shintō seals.

• There are three main ways to destroy a typical European vampire: a sacred bullet, a wooden stake through the heart, or decapitation. This includes other means of death that effectively removes a vampire's head, such as incinerating the body completely. • Old folklore from Eastern Europe suggests that many vampires suffered from a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, being fascinated with counting. Millet or poppy seeds were placed on the ground at the gravesite of a presumed vampire, in order to keep the vampire occupied all night counting. Chinese myths about vampires also state that if a vampire comes across a sack of rice, s/he will have to count all of the grains. Aside from the Muppet character of Count von Count on television's Sesame Street, this characteristic seems to have largely disappeared from popular culture. It was also referenced in an episode of The X-Files. • The vampire myth of Istanbul holds that a vampire may be killed using a silver bullet or silver stake. This ritual may be accompanied with prayers, usually in Arabic, which call for the peace of the soul. An example of this tradition may be found in the novel "The Historian," but it has also spread and become increasingly popular in the modern depictions of vampires, such as in the "Blade" movie trilogy.


Pathology and vampirism

Some people argue that vampire stories might have been influenced by a rare illness called porphyria. The disease disrupts the production of heme. People with extreme but rare cases of this hereditary disease can be so sensitive to sunlight that they can get a sunburn through heavy cloud cover, causing them to avoid sunlight — although it should be noted that the idea that vampires are harmed by sunlight is largely from modern fiction and not the original beliefs. Certain forms of porphyria are also associated with neurological symptoms, which can create psychiatric disorders. However, the hypotheses that porphyria sufferers crave the heme in human blood, or that the consumption of blood might ease the symptoms of porphyria, are based on a severe misunderstanding of the disease. There is very little evidence to suggest that porphyria had anything to do with the development of the original folklore. [4] Others argue that there is a relationship between vampirism and rabies. There have been a number of murderers who performed this seemingly vampiric ritual upon their victims. Serial killers Peter Kurten and Richard Trenton Chase were both called "vampires" in the tabloids after they were discovered drinking the blood of the people they murdered, for example. Legends that Erzsébet Báthory, a medieval Hungarian aristocrat, murdered hundreds of women in bizarre rituals involving blood, helped mold contemporary vampire legends. Some psychologists in modern times recognize a disorder called clinical vampirism (or Renfield's syndrome, from Dracula's insect-eating henchman in the novel by Bram Stoker) in which the victim is obsessed with drinking blood, either from animals or humans.

Finding vampires in graves

When the coffin of an alleged vampire was opened, people sometimes found the cadaver in a relatively undecomposed state, which could have been interpreted as the corpse being the equivalent of a well-fed vampire. Folkloric accounts almost universally represent the alleged vampire as having ruddy or dark skin, not the pale skin of vampires in literature and film. In the past, people were often malnourished and therefore thin in life, which could account for the pale skin often referred to. Corpses swell as gases from decomposition accumulate in the torso and blood tries to escape the body. During decomposition blood can often be seen emanating from nose and mouth, which could give the impression that the corpse was a vampire who had been drinking blood. Natural processes of decomposition, absent embalming, tend to darken the skin of a corpse — hence the black, blue, or red complexion of the folkloric vampire.

Vampire bats

Bats have become an integral part of the vampire myth only recently, although many cultures have myths about them. In Europe, bats and owls were long associated with the supernatural, mainly because they were night creatures. On the other hand, the gypsies thought them lucky and wore charms made of bat bones. In English heraldic tradition, a bat means "Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos"[5]. In South America, Camazotz was a bat god of the caves living in the Bathouse of the Underworld. The three species of actual vampire bats are all endemic to Latin America, and there is no evidence to suggest that they had any Old World relatives within human memory. It is therefore extremely unlikely that the folkloric vampire represents a distorted presentation or memory of the bat. During the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with vampire bats and recognized the similarity between the feeding habits of the bats and those of their mythical vampires. The bats were named after the folkloric vampire rather than vice versa; the Oxford English Dictionary records the folkloric use in English from 1734 and the zoological not until 1774. It wasn't long before vampire bats were adapted into fictional tales, and they have become one of the more important vampire associations in popular culture.


Main article: Vampire fiction Lord Byron introduced many common elements of the vampire theme to Western literature in his epic poem The Giaour (1813). These include the combination of horror and lust that the vampire feels and the concept of the undead passing its inheritance to the living. John Polidori authored the first "true" vampire story called The Vampyre. Polidori was the personal physician of Lord Byron and the vampire of the story, Lord Ruthven, is based partly on him — making the character the first of our now familiar romantic vampires. The story is sometimes still falsely attributed to Lord Byron. Bram Stoker's Dracula has been the definitive description of the vampire in popular fiction for the last century. Its portrayal of vampirism as a disease (contagious demonic possession), with its undertones of sex, blood, and death, struck a chord in a Victorian Europe where tuberculosis and syphilis were common.


• Dracula

• Elizabeth Bathory

• Energy vampire

• Hopping corpse

• Maschalismos

• Medieval revenant

• Mercy Brown vampire incident

• Vampire bat

• Vampire hunter

• Vampire lifestyle

• Vampire: The Masquerade

• Vlad III Dracula

Personal tools