VAMPIRES AROUND THE WORLD: PART 1— by Lois Gresh

VAMPIRES AROUND THE WORLD:  PART 1

by Lois H. Gresh (author of BLOOD AND ICE, a futuristic vampire thriller — January 2011)

BLOOD AND ICE

Vampire lore has been around since ancient times.  People in cultures all over the world have believed in these blood-sucking creatures.  The ancient Chaldeans in Mesopotamia believed in vampires; as did the ancient Assyrians, who wrote about vampires on clay and stone tablets.

In China, vampires were often portrayed as red-eyed monsters with green hair.  In ancient India, vampire legends were evident from the paintings on cave walls of blood-drinking creatures.  In some writings in 1500 B.C., the destroyer Rakshasas is depicted as a vampire; and paintings from 3000 B.C. show the Lord of Death drinking blood from a human skull.  The Indian Baital vampire is a mythological monster who hangs upside down from trees, much like a bat.  The Baital hasn’t any blood of its own.

The ancient Malaysians had a vampire called the Penannggalen, which was a human head with entrails.  The entrails left the Penannggalen’s head to seek the blood of human infants.  In ancient Peru, the canchus were devil worshipers who drank blood from children.

In ancient Babylonia, the ekimmu was a vampire spirit who drank human blood when hungry.  In Wallachia, the murony vampire sucked blood and operated as a shapeshifter, changing from human to dog to insect to cat, at will.  Sometimes, the murony operated in werewolf form.

In Greece, vampires were thought to be winged serpents combined with human females.  The ancient Greek strigoe or lamiae were monsters who drank the blood of children.  These notions came largely from the lore of Lamia, one of Zeus’ lovers; when Hera fought Lamia, the mistress went insane and killed all her own children, then at night, she killed everyone else’s children, as well.

–Excerpted from Exploring Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials by Lois H. Gresh  (St. Martin’s Press, 2006)

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