The Vampire in Different Cultures

The following is a summary of the more common species of vampire believed to have infested Europe in the 18th century. This was taken from a book by a Rumanian author who's main hypothesis was that the prevalence and persistence of the vampire myth in central and southern Europe was due to conflict between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The book also contains long sections on the historical Dracula and Countess Elizabeth Bathory. A completed bibliographical reference is given after the table.

Better known species of vampires believed to have infested Europe in the Eighteenth Century

Name of Species Country How it becomes a vampire Approved method of disposal

Africa Reincarnation of old evil sorcerers  
(a) Sampiro
(b) Liugat
Albania (a) Natural causes (a) Stake through heart
Ghul Arabia It is a desert-devil that eats corpses  
Nachtzehrer Bavaria Being born with a second skin Coin in mouth, cutting off head with an axe
Blautsager Bosnia-
Bitten by another Blautsager Put hawthorne in his coffin; he/she will have to pick them up, so the sunrise will destroy him/her.
Bohemia   Burial at crossroads
Lobishomen Brazil Linked to lycanthropy Nail him to a tree with daggers
Moribund Brittany
Bit by a werewolf  
Bulgaria Did unholy acts, like orgies during Lent Chain it to the grave with wild roses
Katacan Ceylon It is a kind of zombie  
Ch'Ing Shi
Ch'Ing Shuh
China   An iron blade through his heart
Kathakano Crete   Boiling head in vinegar
Pijavica Croatia Incest with mother Cutting off head and putting it between legs
Vilkodlak Czech Lands    
Kuzlak Dalmatia Weaning before time Transfixing with a hawthorne bough
Demoniacal origin  
Greece Son of an excommunicate or the excommunicate himself Cutting off and burning head
Farkaskoldus Hungary It is a werewolf that sucks blood  
Liderc nadaly
Hungary   Stake through heart; nail through temples
Punyaiama India    
Strigon Istria   A hawthorne branch through the heart
Vampiro Italy    
Dearg-dul Ireland   Piling stones on its grave
Vryolakas Macedonia Natural causes Pouring boiling oil on it; driving nail in its navel
Penaggalan Malasia    
Cianteteo Mexico Witchcraft  
One possessed Steal his shroud from his coffin and destroy it
Vrukolak Morlachia (as Vryolakas) (as Vryolakas)
Vourdalak Moldavia
Killed by another Vourdalak Cut off head and burn it
Upier and Upierzyca Poland When born with teeth Bury face downwards
Gierach (Stryz) Prussia   Putting poppy seeds in grave
Evil spirits  
Russia Son of were-wolf or witch; Witchcraft Transfixing it with a stake through its chest, driving stake through heart; to be hit only once, otherwise revives
(a) Strigoiul
(b) Muronul
Rumania Born out of wedlock to parents begotten out of wedlock (a) Taking out its heart and cutting it in two; garlic in mouth, nail in head
(b) Nail through forehead or stake through heart
Vukodlak Slovenia    
Serbia Incest or killed by a were-wolf; being stillborn Cutting off its toes; driving nail in its neck
Neuntoter Saxony   Lemon in its mouth
Vampiro Spain   No known remedy
Vampyr Sweden    
Bruxsa Portugal Witchcraft No known remedy

Ronay, Gabriel, _The Truth About Dracula_, (c) 1972 by Gabriel Ronay as _The Dracula Myth_, Stein and Day/Publishers/Scarborough House, 1974, Briarcliff Manor, New York 10510, pp. 22-23.


The following two accounts are fairly representative of the tales of vampirism that were current in Europe in the 17th and 18th century. They illustrate some of the features of the European vampire, as he existed in folklore as opposed to fiction, quite well.

An old man died and they buried him. But a day later a healthy youngster died, than again a young innkeeper, and so each day another person died in the village. The peasant could not get over this and went to the priest and told him that someone was eating the people in the village, and that it was certainly the old peasant who had died first. They must dig him up and render three others to the widow of the vampire and said, 'Come along little mother, because we're going off to dig up the old man.'
They took a large piece of cloth from her and went with her to the churchyard. They dug up the grave and behold! the vampire sat there, supported on his hands, with a blood-red face, for he had already sucked out a great deal of blood from the people. When the wife saw that, she spat out and said, 'You are to disappear; don't get up again and don't move!' They they grabbed him out of the grave, cut him into pieces and tied him in the cloth. Then they threw him onto a thorn bush, set this on fire, and burned the vampire. Hereupon a strong wind arose and blew after them, howling, all the way to the village.

South Russian folk tale contributed by Jim Wilderotter 

From: as yet undetermined (UOG11011@VM.UOGUELPH.CA)

I am presently reading a book entitled _The History of Magic_ by Joseph Ennemoser (1787-1854), and I found something in one of the appendices which I thought may interest all of you.


We have just had in this part of Hungary a scene of vampirism, which is duly attested by two officers of the tribunal of Belgrade, who went down to the places specified, and by an officer of the emperor's troops at Graditz, who was an ocular witness of the proceedings.
In the beginning of September there died in the village of Kisilova, three leagues from Graditz, an old man who was sixty-two years of age. Three days after he had been buried he appeared in the night to his son, and asked him for something to eat; the son having given him something, he ate and disappeared. The next day the son recounted to his neighbours what had happened. That night the father did not appear, but the following night he showed himself, and asked for something to eat. They know not whether the son gave him anything or not, but the next day he was found dead in his bed. On the same day five or six persons fell suddenly ill in the village, and died one after the other in a few days.
The officer or bailiff of the place, when informed of what had happened, sent an account of it to the tribunal of Belgrade, which despatched to the village two of these officers and an executioner to examine into this affair. The imperial officer from whom we have this account repaired thither from Graditz, to be witness of a circumstance which he had so often heard spoken of.
They opened the graves of those who had been dead six weeks. When they came to that of the old man, they found him with his eyes open, having a fine colour, with natural respiration, nevertheless motionless as the dead; whence they concluded that he was most evidently a vampire. The executioner drove a stake into his heart; they then raised a pile and reduced the corpse to ashes. No mark of vampirism was found either on the corpse of the son, or on the others.
Thanks be to God, we are by no means credulous. We avow that all the light which science can throw on this fact discovers none of the causes of it. Nevertheless, we cannot refuse to believe that to be true which is juridically attested, and by persons of probity. We will here relate what happened in 1732, and which is inserted in the Glaneur, No. XVIII.

From: E. Bathory and a cast of thousands

The material below on Asian Vampires is from the Pacesetter Chill Game Vampires Supplement. It is copyright Pacesetter/Mayfair Games (they bought the rights after Pacesetter went out of business). Chill is a horror role playing game. (Authors are Gali Sanchez and Michael Williams)
Although this is gaming reference material, I have found all of the Chill materials to be very well researched. Read/use at your own risk...

== JAPAN: The Vampire Ninja ==

The vampire ninja is described as a 'horrible rotting body that beyond nature and belief, seems to move with the grace and quickness of a dancer'.
The creature attacks with the style and force of the deadliest assassins. Once its victim dies, the creature breaks the corpse in half with its bare hands, then gulps down the blood pouring from the torn cadaver.
The material goes on to say: This vampire assassin is not unknown to Japanese folklore. Long before the arrival of Europeans in Japan, the creature was known as 'Death Ninja', the hero of the feudal ninja assassins because he was as indestructible as he was deadly. Stories are still passed down about the Death Ninja's calmly pulling arrows out of his body, about his treating critical wounds as though they were mere scratches. Legends mention his great age: it seems that the Death Ninja had lived for hundreds of years - that is, something within the creature remained alive, for the flesh on that body was dying slowly. The ugliness of rotting flesh simply made the creature all the more fearsome.
He is in such an advanced state of decay that his eyelids have rotted away, leaving a horrifying death stare. Cheekbones and fingers (about the only thing showing in a traditional ninja costume) show exposed bone among the shreds of flesh.
The Death Ninja seems not to have the shape shifting (or other) powers of the 'traditional' vampire. All accounts emphasize that his sole from of attack has been physical assault. The vampire's strength, general agility, and stamina are unearthly, and he possesses formidable weapons skills.

How to drive off such a fearsome creature? Japanese tradition suggests the following:

  • A bowl of uncooked rice will keep a vampire out of a room.
  • The crowing of a rooster will scare away a vampire.
  • A raw fish will keep a vampire out of a room.
  • An open bottle or glass of saki will keep a vampire out of a room (some say the saki must be the sweet Mi-Run saki).
  • A vampire will not cross a line of salt.
  • Three lies told to a vampire will confuse the creature and allow the victim time to escape.

The portion for the person running the game provides additional information:
  • The Death Ninja casts no reflection and cannot be photographed.
  • Exposure to sunlight causes immediate destruction.
  • The vampire must rest each day by 'meditating' in a reclined position in any underground area completely devoid of sunlight. He must be at rest to be destroyed.
  • To destroy him, he must first have a stake driven through his heart while he is at rest; then the head must be cut off and the mouth stuffed with uncooked rice. Both conditions must be fulfilled or the creature will return.

(They lied about the three lies, and the raw fish method of driving him off is a red herring) (*)


From: Ogcocephalus (IN%'R200213@UNIVSCVM.BITNET), 8-OCT-93
RE: Vampyres of the World, part LXXIII

Pay no attention to the number in the title. I don't have parts I through LXXII. However there used to be a 'series' of posts regarding vampyres and vampyre legends in other cultures and I'd like to add one which I recently came across. I had the opportunity to visit the Caribbean nation of Dominica this summer (Note: this is NOT the Dominican Republic as the folk there are quick to point out). Its about 2/3rd the way down the Lesser Antilles between Martinique and Guadalupe. While English is the principal language the island was variously 'owned' by the Spanish, French and English during colonial times and most of the people speak patois or Kweyol (Creole) a language derived from French, Spanish as English with lots of influence from the native African dialects of the people.
On Dominica there exists a creature known as the SOUCOYAN. The 'official' explanation of this creature's origin is that it is 'a curious combination of West African spiritualism and 18th Century Catholicism. The people however know that the Soucoyan appears as an old woman who sheds her skin at night (they know this because they sometimes find the skins, which are very valuable in the practice of Obeah magic. The skinless phantom flies through the air, usually appearing as a ball of fire and sucks the blood from her victims. The victims may die if too much blood is taken and it is possible for their drained bodies to become Soucoyan ( Its not clear to me whether the victim becomes a new Soucoyan or whether an existing Soucoyan possesses the dead victim's skin. Its also not clear how male victims become Soucoyans since Soucoyans always appear as old women). The Soucoyan must return to her skin by morning, hence possession of the skin by an Obeah (if they dare) gives control over the Soucoyan.
We'll be returning to Dominica over Christmas, as well as visiting Grenada (Lestat's 'Isle of Spices') so I should have more opportunities to resolve my questions about the Soucoyan. Stay tuned, same bat-time, same bat-station...

From: Ogcocephalus (R200213@UNIVSCVM.BITNET), Wed, 05 Jan 1994
Subject: Vampires of the World (continued)

Well, your humble batfish has just returned from Grenada, the 'Isle of Spice,' where in addition to consorting with some of his underwater cousins he picked up a few more tidbits on the local supernatural fauna.
Grenada, like most other Caribbean islands is a mixture of peoples whose forefathers came from many lands. Each brought with them their beliefs in the supernatural and these have been handed down through the generationswith alterations and substantial borrowing from one another.
One good example is the ligaroo. The name is derived from French, loup garoux or werewolf but has little resemblance to this creature. This being has a normal human form by day but at night, especially around the time of the full moon, he sheds his skin, turns into a ball of fire and goes in search of victims whose blood he sucks. This aspect of the creature is derived from African beliefs and is almost identical to the Soucoyan from Dominica, except that the Soucoyan is a woman while the ligaroo is male. Cecily also brought to my attention the 'Haint' or Hag a supernatural creature identical to the Soucoyan found in the Gullah traditions of the South Carolina Lowcountry. But the ligaroo can take other forms and a particular favorite is the bat, which feeds from the jugular of its victims, evidence of further European (or possibly Hollywood) influence. Ligaroos are identified by the eyes, which even in the daytime are red and bulging, however the best identification is to find the shed skin and sprinkle it with salt. When the ligaroo returns and puts it back on he will have an uncontrollable itch all over his body. It is important that a ligaroo never learn your real name. Children are protected by having a 'home' name which is used instead of the name with which the child was baptized. Some people use their home names throughout life. This protects them from spirits, but can cause legal complications.
Another entity is the lajabless (French la diablesse or she-devil). The lajabless looks like a beautiful woman, but always wear a long skirt to hide her cloven hoof (just one, the other foot is of normal human appearance). She also wears a large floppy hat to hide her head, which is actually a skull. She victimizes men by luring them to the edge of a precipice. She then lifts her hat which either makes him jump off the cliff from fright or drives him insane. By day the lajabless lives in the buttresses of the silk cotton (la Cieba) tree. This tree also features prominently in other legends. The Mayans believed that the first man was born from the Cieba tree.
The Grenadian information is derived from 'Grenadian Superstitions and Scary Stories' by Norma Sinclair.


From: The Lady in Black (IN%', 3 FEB-1994 10:35:00.80
Subj: Celtic Vampyres

Someone asked about Celtic vampyres...I thought I'd add to the discussion despite a lack of free time (no matter what Magnus says *grin*). The closest thing to an honest-to-Goddess vampyre I've encountered in Celtic mythology is that of the Dearg-due, or the 'Red Blood Sucker.' Legend has it that a famous female Dearg-due is buried near Strongbow's Tree in Waterford. She purportedly arises once a year from her grave to seduce men into her embrace and drains them dry of blood. I do believe she's a distant relative... The way to prevent the undead from arising, according to Irish legend, is to pile stones on the grave. The Irish also believe that the dead can rise again on the New Year -- I'm unsure as to whether it's the Eve or the Day. I can check on this if anyone is truly interested.
Arguably, the Leanhaun (YSMV -- Your Spelling May Vary) Sidhe could be considered a vampyre of the psychic sort. She's the Gaelic Muse who drains her victims after inspiring them to great height. The Leanhaun Sidhe, however, is one of the faerie folk rather than undead (although I suppose it depends on your definition of that term).


Subj: RE: Celtic Vampyres

When you say that they rise on the New Year, do you mean Nov. 1 - day after Samhain? That's the old Celtic New Year, isn't it? Jan. 1 would have no meaning, seems to me...

I had to go back and check my notes on this one *grin* The book where I originally got this information out of, _The Leprechaun's Kingdom_ (I don't have the author handy), states that *currently* some of the Irish still believe that the newly buried will rise on New Year' I'm assuming that it means Jan. 1st.
However, I'd hazard to guess that the tradition comes from Celtic times, when the New Year was Nov. 1st. It makes much more sense to have this legend associated with Samhain, doesn't it?

Source: A compilation of posts to the VAMPYRES list from 1991 - 1994, with updates from 1997. Original Post: Dragon (UNCLRP@UNC.BITNET), July 1991. Additional Material: Vazzola Stefano (, March 1997

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

Vol. 1 No. 1
A Poison of the Blood
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Weird Count, Black Vampire Bats And Lunatic Horrors