The Origin of Vampire Folklore

Legends about vampires have been around since the beginning of time.However,those ancient legends did not portray these blood sucking creatures as the fanged and pale-skinned walking dead that we know today.

As a dismay to many, vampires from around the world had various features. For example,the Mesopotamian ‘Lamashtu’ was a creature with a head of a lion and a body of a donkey and the ‘Striges’  from Ancient Greece which were known as blood-thirsty birds or the Australian ‘Yara-ma-yha-who’. Vampires are also renown in Asia; in Philippines, they were known as ‘Manangal’ while in Malaysia they were known as ‘Pontianak’. Although,they seem very varied but they all have one thing in common which is consuming the blood of a living creature.

Then what is the origin of the vampires that we know today? If you flip the pages of your history book, rewind your life back to the 18th century, set in eastern Europe, you will notice that it was the time when many deaths occurred due to numerous unknown diseases. Unfortunately,the reason for those deaths were not explained (at least scientifically).People started to recall ancient legends that has been passed down to them.The one legend that caught their attention and seemed like an evidence was the one about the blood sucking monsters.

To confirm their theory, people started digging up buried corpses.What they found proved them right ! Longer hair and fingernails, bloated bellies and blood at the corner of the mouth proved  the existence of what we call, VAMPIRES and that is where the reign of the modern vampires began. Sometime after that, people developed more theories about how vampires are created, traits of a vampire and ways to kill them. First of all, they believed that a corpse became a vampire when it was jumped over by an animal particularly a dog or a cat.The common traits of a vampire includes: immortality, being nocturnal and the ability to change form- into animals like bats and snakes. People also believed the ways to kill a vampire is by beheading or burning them.

Unfortunately, when vampire hunting increased drastically, a law against digging up corpses was enforced. This is when people finally discovered the truths about vampires.After thorough research,some scientists discovered that what people thought were the evidence that vampires exist was actually due to decomposition of the corpse.Longer fingernails and hair is caused by a stage called decomposition .When the dead body decomposes, the skin dehydrates and cause the hair and fingernails to extend and also the bacteria in stomach produces gases that fill the belly which then forces out blood through the mouth.

A few years later, vampire folklore had almost died off but these myths inspired many significant poets. Literature was the work of art that saved vampires from the brink of death. Famous works of literature inspired by vampires include,’The Vampyre' by William Polidori and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’These pieces relit the fear of vampires in our hearts by inventing new traits of vampires such as weakness in sunlight,fear of crucifixes and the inability to see their own reflection.

In a nutshell,vampires are wicked creatures that feeds on our fear to live forever.We will never be able to truly destroy them as long as the fear lives in our hearts. We need to stay strong or this Halloween might bring a start to a whole new and mysterious death series…

Thank you.


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