Vampire myths, legends from around the world
Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on November 21, 2009
Oh sure, these days, vampires are just downright cuddly, thanks in part to the popularity of the “Twilight” series and other modern vampire tales. Yes, today’s bloodsuckers, with their roguish good looks and vegetarian attitudes, are pansies compared to their predecessors.
All around the world, there is folklore and myths surroundings vampires, each one different, and, in many cases, each one more horrible than the next (don’t even get me started on Japan’s kappa). Forget sparkling skin and an attraction to humans beyond that night’s dinner. Most vampire legends are scary enough to even make Edward and his sexy bed-head coif tremble.
According to an article in the American Chronicle, vampire-like spirits and beings have been recorded ever since mankind has been around. For instance, even the Sumerians, the earliest known civilization in the world, believed in the Akhkharu, a blood-sucking demon. The ancient Chinese wrote about hopping corpses, which would consume people’s chi (or life essence) and the ancient Egyptians had a goddess Sakhmet, who was consumed with, you guessed it, bloodlust.
In Malaysia, their version of the vampire is the penanggalan, a flying woman’s head complete with, no, not a smoking-
hot body, but rather hanging entrails, according to an article in the online magazine The Traveler’s Notebook. Formerly a beautiful midwife, the penanggalan made a pact with the devil for supernatural abilities, and all she got for her effort was this lousy T-shirt. Oh, and a curse in which she had to detach from her body each night in search of the blood of newborn infants and pregnant women. As an added bonus, the intestines hanging out of the creature also left constant sores on whomever it grasps.
In Brazil, forget about Brad Pitt hanging out in your bedroom waiting to suck you dry. They have the lobishomen, a hairy and squat fellow with a hunched back, jaundiced skin and rotted teeth, according to the magazine article. However, in a M. Night Shyamalan twist, the lobishomen loves to prey on women, who then turn into nymphomaniacs after his bite (I’m sincerely hoping their lust did not include the lobishomen … talk about a walk of shame).
In Australia, the indigenous people have a legend of the yara-ma-yha-who, which fed on humans and then … wait for it … regurgitated them, according to mythology writer Wayne Kreger in his article “Vampires Around the World.” Luckily (not), the victim usually survived. However, enough encounters with the creature would eventually slowly turn the victim into a yara-ma-yha-who.
In some of the older Slavic gypsy communities, it was thought that inanimate objects and animals could turn into vampires. So, just think about that the next time you start slicing a watermelon.
Other vampire lore from around the world, according to the Web site http://www.mythicalrealm.com, include:
Africa has the Obayifo, a tree-dwelling, child-eating vampire.
Bulgaria has the Vapir or Ubour, which rises after 40 days in the grave to feed on blood and … (shudder) … excrement. Apparently it only has one nostril and sleeps with its left eye open.
In China, there is the Chiang-shi, a white or green-haired vampire that drew strength from the moon and could fly.
Russia has the Upyr, a delightful daywalking bloodsucker that loved children … for dinner. Oh, and it also ate those children with its iron teeth.
Those wacky Scottish lads had the Baobhan Sith, also known as the white women of the Scottish highlands. They were ghost-like vampires that could take the shape of beautiful women that invited men to dance with them and then drank their blood, because, you know, sometimes sith happens.