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Vampires. A Folk Figure Presentation by Rolynda Gunnell. Vampires (and Vampire-like Creatures) Throughout the World. Dakhanavar of Armenia The chiang -shih of China The Chupacabra The Nachzehrer of Germany The vrykolakas of Greece The langsuyar of Malaysia

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A Folk Figure Presentation by

Rolynda Gunnell

vampires and vampire like creatures throughout the world
Vampires (and Vampire-like Creatures) Throughout the World
  • Dakhanavar of Armenia
  • The chiang-shih of China
  • The Chupacabra
  • The Nachzehrer of Germany
  • The vrykolakas of Greece
  • The langsuyar of Malaysia
  • The asasabonsam and obayifo of Africa
  • The yara-ma-yha-who of Australia’s aboriginal tribes
  • The Bruja of Spain and Bruxa of Portugal
  • The tlahuelpuchi of Mexico
  • And MANY more…
  • European Vampire lore is said to have its beginning in the ancient concept of the Incubus/Succubus demon.
the slavic european vampire
The Slavic (European) Vampire


During the vampire hysteria of the 1700s, the corpses of

suspected vampires were exhumed and destroyed. The

identifying characteristics included:

  • Little or no signs of decomposition
  • Ruddy complexion
  • A pliable, limp, and/or bloated body
  • The presence of fresh blood, particularly around the mouth, eyes, ears, or nose
  • Noticeable nail and hair growth since the burial
  • Partially devoured appendages
  • The deceased would also bleed and/or groan when a stake was driven through the body.
the slavic european vampire1
The Slavic (European) Vampire

During the Victorian era

In early American cinema

  • Bram Stoker popularized many elements of the vampire figure that weren’t previously associated with the lore, such as the vampire’s ability to turn into a bat.
  • Dracula had bushy eyebrows, long fingernails, and putrid breath, very different from the suave, immaculate version we’re familiar with today.
  • Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the movies of the 30’s introduced the hallmark characteristics of modern vampire lore.
  • He introduced the widow’s peak hairstyle, Hungarian accent, and opera cape, among other things.
the modern slavic vampire
The Modern Slavic Vampire


  • Highly romanticized
  • Often have a human love interest
  • Obtain blood from animals, blood banks, or willing donors
  • Antithesis of the traditional vampire monster figure
  • Handsome rather than repulsive
  • Protective rather than predatorial
  • Heroic rather than villainous
  • They are “vampires who act morally when dealing with mortals and, as a whole, conform their moral perspective to a human ethical perspective” (Melton, 297).

Tall, Dark, and Immortal…

the function of vampire lore
The Function of Vampire Lore


  • Vampire attacks provided an explanation for natural phenomenon.
  • People suffering from “consumptive” diseases, like tuberculosis and anemia, were thought to be vampire attack victims.
  • Frightening events, like the widespread killing of cattle by unknown predators and epidemics were blamed on vampires.
  • “Far from being merely fanciful horror stories, the vampire stories prove to be an ingenious and elaborate folk-hypothesis that seeks to explain otherwise puzzling phenomena associated with death and decomposition – phenomena that are now well understood. [They were] capable of describing events accurately and [had] predictive value” (Barber, 2-3).
the function of vampire lore1
The Function of Vampire Lore


  • “The moment of death, then, is the polar opposite of life, and this opposition is expressed predominantly in terms of blood. It is thus entirely consistent with this symbolism that the greatest fear that the living have of the dead, and for the dead, is lest this metamorphosis from the world of the living to that of the dead should in any way fail to be maintained, and it is consistent too that the failure of this metamorphosis should be seen in terms of the physical reanimation of the dead. Thus the period of the wake is shown to be a transitional time during which the proper state of the dead is liable to reversal, and vampires – those dead whose transition into the other world has somehow been arrested before completion – return not as ineffective revenants, but as living demons, illegitimately demanding blood” (Boulay 233).
the psychological interpretation of the vampire figure
The Psychological Interpretation of the Vampire Figure
  • “Now, since monsters, in one form or another, were an omnipresent feature of our evolutionary past, tales about slaying monsters, which trigger inferences associated with predation and "fight" rather than "flight" or "playing-dead," have a salience and relevance for us that represent a heritage from our Paleolithic ancestors. That salience and relevance, we contend, accounts for the continued invention and re-invention of such tales in the plenitude of cultures known to us from the Paleolithic to the present. We fear monsters—vicarious fear is still fear—and we derive pleasure—vicarious pleasure is still pleasure—from killing them. The psychological stress occasioned by our fear is relieved by the slaying, and the reductive process is experienced as pleasurable” (Saler and Ziegler).
  • Monster stories, and vampire stories in particular, enable the participant to explore various taboo subjects and forbidden sexual concepts. “In horror stories, in general, authors have been able to treat sexual themes in ways that would not have been available to them otherwise” (Melton 105).
works cited
Works Cited
  • Barber, Paul. "Forensic Pathology and the European Vampire." Indiana University Press, Jan. 1987. Web. <>. An explanation of the characteristics attributed to vampires during the medieval period. A comparison of ancient reports with modern forensic knowledge.
  • Boulay, Juliet Du. "The Greek Vampire: A Study of Cyclic Symbolism in Marriage and Death." The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, June 1982. Web. <>.A report on death rituals and beliefs relating to vampires in Greece. Specifically, the symbolism of the death rituals and vampire lore as a representation of the incest taboo.
  • Melton, J. Gordon., PhD. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. 3rd ed. Canton, MI: Visible Ink, 2011. Print.A comprehensive A to Z encyclopedia of vampire lore from around the world, including biographies of writers, filmakers, and actors who have portrayed vampires through writing, in film, or on television.
  • Saler, Benson, and Charles A. Ziegler. "Dracula and Carmilla: Monsters and the Mind." Project MUSE. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Web. <>.An anthropological perspective of human evolution and the instinctual and psychological processes that led to the creation of the vampiric folk figure.
  • Wilson, Katharina M. "The History of the Word “Vampire”." University of Pennsylvania Press, Oct. 1985. Web. <>.A review of linguistic studies about the possible origins of the word "vampire." It provides a conclusion about the true origin of the word.
  • 220px-Incubus. Digital image. Wikipedia, n.d. Web.
  • CALA97YQ. Digital image. Google Images. Google, n.d. Web.
  • CAMB3TYH. Digital image. Google Images. Google, n.d. Web.
  • Dracula_g. Digital image. Google Images. Google, n.d. Web.