Monday, October 3, 2011

Vampires: A Drain On Society

Vampires don't sparkle!!
Vampires were very “in” when I was in high school (back in the 90’s). Then, it seemed they were ditched for elves. Now thanks to Twilight and books of the like, they’re back in the forefront of popular culture. However you may feel about that series, you have to concede it that. Erotic fantasies have capitalized on them, particularly the European vein of the bloodsuckers. Other fantasies can use them well, but do they have to be the same type we’ve seen since Uncle Bram* put pen to paper? The world has quite a few wonderful answers to Europe’s famous vampires.

In the ancient Assyrian kingdom, legends spoke of the Utukku, vampiric souls that were spawned from the bile of Ea, one of the three creator gods. They made their homes in caverns, cliffs, and ruins (much like the ghul type of djinn). While still humanoid, they have the heads of animals and complete the look with horns and claws.

If you look to Africa, there is the Mwanga, a vicious were-beast that falls into the vampire category. It feeds at night like most of them, but, unlike many, can be wounded by normal weapons. But it’s far from a pushover! Even in Timbuktu there was a vampire that made the citizens take cover at night. It was called the Tyerkow. It would shed its skin during the evening to feed on the city dwellers. The only way to defeat it is to hide its skin before dawn. The rising sun would cause it to burst into flames. This story was so strong that versions of it survived with African descendants in the New World.

One similar tale is found in Surinam. There you’ll find the Azeman, a female vampire that dons the skins of animals at night to feed on her victims. There are three ways to defeat her: lay a broom handle across your doorstep, scatter brooms across your floor (she’s compelled to count EVERY bristle) so she’s caught by the rising sun and burns, or sprinkle pepper on the skin she’s using so she cannot hunt.

An Utukku from a RPG
Latin America also has quite a few others. In Chile, there are Pihuechenyi, winged serpents that feed on blood at night. In Mexico you have the Civatateo. These deathly white vampires were once noblewomen who died in childbirth. You can spot them by the death’s heads on their clothes or branded on their skins. And believe it or not, the famous Chupacabra, or goatsucker, fall into this list too.

Over in India their vampires are called Vetalas. These are actually evil spirits that enter corpses to feed on the blood of the living. Interestingly enough, Vetala is also the word for a necromancer.

My final example comes from China which has the Hu-Hsien, shape shifting fox spirits. They take the form of beautiful young men and women to enthrall their lover/next meal. Unfortunately, they’re fond of wine and drop their mortal disguises when drunk.

I know their must be a host of other kinds out there just waiting to be used. As I further my research I’ll add on, but for now, my friends, go! Create!

*Bram Stoker. If you didn't know, shame on you!!


  1. There's enough material right there for a dozen vampire stories or novels. Excellent job of research! I especially like the Tyrekow.

  2. Hey Derrick. I think I like the Tyrekow too. And the drunken Hu-Hsien. Thanks for commenting.