Vampires I Haven’t Known
In honor of a season that seems to be specifically designed for bloodsuckers with their origins in Vlad Dracul, the sweetheart of the Transylvanian mountains, I present to you vampires you have never heard of all around the world. Because contrary to what you may heard or thought, there have been vampire sightings all over, and before Mr. Dracul, even (even before the Egyptians!). Jacquie Rogers and I have done some research about vampires around the world, and you will be amazed at the variation of vampires we’ve found.
For instance …
Did you know there are four different types of vampires? Yes! Most of the time, the vampires you read about merge characteristics of the four:
* Undead and sucks blood from its victims (seduces its victims; hypersexual). This kind of vampire is most often seen in the stories. As a rule, it’s not as powerful as you see in the stories. If you’ve ever read Stoker’s Dracula, he has specific abilities, but nothing as powerful as you’ll have read or seen in pop culture.
* Alive, thank you, but are driven to drink blood to survive. This kind of vampire draws from the ancient stories of warriors, in which partaking of the enemies’ blood makes you powerful. Not undead, just icky. This comes up in the origin story of the Indian goddess Kali. Lots of vampire myths in India!
* Alive, and doesn’t take blood from its victims; instead, this type of vampire survives by sucking the life force from its human victims, but may not be conscious of doing so. This kind of vampire tends to be much older than its victims, feeding off the young to keep age and illness at bay.
* Dead, undead, and this one drains its victims of psychic energy and does so deliberately. Perhaps the worst kind of vampire, according to the stories about these creatures, they cannot be destroyed by usual means (a cross or a stake, a beheading); they drain their victims by using their powers of astral projection to attack them in their sleep.
So the stories about the kind of vampire in which the dead are reanimated and terrorize the living are only one kind of life suckers. One way or another, the vampires we’re most familiar with didn’t appear in Western fiction until the 18th and 19th centuries.
THE PSYCHIC VAMPIRE: With the long-ago uruku of the Sumerians, the dead come back to unlife after violent deaths or suffered from improper burials, who wandered the earth searching for victims. But in this case, blood was not mentioned specifically; the reference most often used was draining “wind” from the victims, “wind” being a metaphor for “breath” —as in the psychic vampire.
THE VAMPIRE WITH A WEIRD NIGHTLIGHT: Then there’s Africa. Various regions have tales of beings with vampiric abilities. Starting in West Africa, the Ashanti people have stories about several types. There are the tales of the iron-toothed, clawed, and tree-dwelling asanbosam or sasabonsam, who jump onto their victims walking by and draw their blood while they’re stunned by the attack. The Ashanti also have the obayifo, who can pass as humans. They are known to emit light from their armpits and anuses at night (a unique nightlight). The obayifo are living vampires who leave their human bodies at night in order to feed, usually on young children. They are also known to cause blight in crops.
THE VAMPIRE WHO…EWW: Across the continent in Madagascar, among the Betsileo is the living vampire known as the ramanga, a living vampire who drinks the blood and eats the nail clippings of tribal elders, whom it served.
THE VAMPIRE DJINN: Then there are the vampires in Arabia, where there is the algul, which translates to “bloodsucking djinn.” Traditionally, the algul was a female demon that hung around cemeteries and ate dead babies. Also in the area are myths about the katanes, a sharp-toothed, hairy creature. These are relatively new stories about vampires, but still thousands of years old. Both are said to have talons, suggesting that birds of some kind or another must have truly terrorized the peoples there.
THE VAMPIRE GARGOYLE: And you would not believe the vampires in India! There’s the rakshasa, which were referred in the Hindu Vedas as early as 1500 BC, described as vampiric, gargoyle-like creatures preying on children. In the northern part of India are stories about the Brahmaparusha, a creature with a head surrounded by human intestines and who carries a skull from which it drinks blood. This entity enjoys eating humans and drinks the blood of the victims before eating the delicacy of the brains. Part vampire, part wizard, they are known for their shapeshifting abilities, appearing in human form with animal characteristics (claws, fangs, etc.), or as animals with human features (feet, hands, nose, and so forth). The animal side often seen is a tiger.
THE VAMPIRE WITH THE CRAZY CUP: Geographically close to India but with very different vampire lore is Tibet. There are wrathful deities, also known as the “58 blood-drinking deities,” that appear eight days after the deceased has passed into the post-death period. The intellect of the deceased was represented by Vajra-Heruka. In one hand he held a human scalp and embraced by his mother, Vajra-Krotishaurima, who has a red shell of a skull filled with blood that she places at the mouth of her son.
THE VAMPIRE WITH A HOLE IN HER NECK: A big jump away we have the vampire lore of the Pacific Rim. In Bali there’s a vampiric demon known as the leyak, but it’s a kuntilanak or matianak in Indonesia, and langsuir in Malaysia, all similar. In general, the creature is a woman who died during childbirth and turns into a demon, terrorizing villages. She appears as an attractive woman with long black hair that covers a hole in the back of her neck, from which she drinks the blood of young children.
Anyway, this is just the tip of the vampire iceberg. There are more vampire types than you can shake a stake at! (You knew I had to use that phrase. You knew.) Check out our FF&P workshop from 10/13 to 10/26!
Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at email@example.com.