My full list is here 😉
“A Residence in Bulgaria” – or – “Notes on the Resources and Administration of Turkey: The condition and character, manners, customs, and language of the Christian and Mussulman populations with reference to the Eastern question”
by S.G.B. St.Clair & Charles A. Brophy [John Murray, London, 1869]
We will now give the unadulterated Bulgarian superstition, merely prefacing that we ought to be well acquainted with it, inasmuch as a servant of ours is the son of a noted vampire, and is doing penance during this present Lent by neither smoking, nor drinking wine or spirits, in order to expiate the sins of his father and to prevent himself inheriting the propensity. [Poor Theodore is head over ears in love with Miss Tuturitza, the young lady next door, who fully reciprocates his affection, but her parents refuse to sanction the marriage on account of the vampire father.]
When a man who has vampire blood in his veins – for this condition is not only epidemic and endemic but hereditary or who is otherwise predisposed to become a vampire, [As when a man is strangled by one of these beings.] dies, nine days after his burial he returns to upper earth in an aeriform shape. The presence of the vampire in this his first condition may be easily discerned in the dark by a succession of sparks like those from a flint and steel, in the light, by a shadow projected upon a wall and varying in density accordingly to the age of the vampire in his career. In this stage he is comparatively harmless and is only able to play the practical jokes of the German Kohold and Gnoine, of the Irish Phooka, or the English Puck, [He only resembles these spirits in their misdeeds; unlike them, he never does a good turn to anybody.] he roars in a terrible voice, or amuses himself by calling out the inhabitants of a cottage by the most endearing terms and then beating them black and blue.
The father of our servant Theodore was a vampire of this class. One night he seized by the waist (for vampires are capable of exercising considerable physical force) Kodja Keraz, the Pehlivan or champion wrestler of Derekuoi, crying out, “Now then, old Cherry Tree, see if you can throw me.” The village champion put forth all his strength, but the vampire was so heavy that Kodja Keraz broke his own jaw in throwing the invisible being who was crushing him to death. [Of course, sceptical persons may be found who would explain this story by the hypothesis of too much wine and a fall over a heap of stones; fortunately our village does not contain any such freethinkers, and Old Cherry Tree will be happy to relate his tale, as we have given it, to my inquirer after truth: to prove its accuracy, he can call many witnesses who will swear to the fact of his jaw having been broken.]
At the time of this occurrence, five years ago, our village was so infested by vampires that the inhabitants were forced to assemble together in two or three houses, to burn candles all night, and to watch by turns in order to avoid the assaults of the Obours who lit up the streets with their sparkles, and of whom the most enterprising threw their shadows on the walls of the room where the peasants were dying of fear; whilst others howled, shrieked, and swore outside the door, entered the abandoned houses, spat blood into the flour, turned everything topsy-turvy, and smeared the whole place, even the pictures of the saints, with cow-dung. Happily for Derekuoi, Vola’s mother, an old lady suspected of a turn for witchcraft, discovered the Ilatch we have already mentioned, laid the troublesome and troubled spirits, and since then the village has been free from these unpleasant supernatural visitations.
When the Bulgarian vampire has finished a forty days’ apprenticeship to the realm of shadows, [Since commencing this chapter, we have learned that the village of Dervishkuoi, six hours from here, is just now haunted by a vampire; he appears with a companion who was suppressed by means of the usual remedy, but this one seems to be proof against poison, and as he will shortly have completed his fortieth day as a shadow, the villagers are in terrible alarm lest he should appear as flesh and blood.] he rises from his tomb in bodily form and is able to pass himself off as a human being. Living honestly and naturally. Thirty years since a stranger arrived in this village, established himself, and married a wife with whom he lived on very good terms, she making but one complaint, that her husband absented himself from the conjugal roof every night and all night. It was soon remarked that (although scavengers were and are, utterly unknown in Bulgaria) a great deal of scavengers’ work was done at night by some unseen being, and that when one branch of this industry was exhausted the dead horses and buffaloes which lay about the streets were devoured by invisible teeth, much to the prejudice of the village dogs; then the mysterious mouth drained the blood of all cattle that happened to be in any way sickly. These occurrences and the testimony of the wife caused the stranger to be suspected of Vampirism, he was examined, found to have only one nostril, [A thoroughly Slavonic idea: in Poland the vampire is also supposed to have a sharp point at the end of his tongue, like the sting of a bee.] and upon this irrefutable evidence was condemned to death. In executing this sentence, our villagers did not think it necessary to send for the priest, to confess themselves, or to take consecrated halters or daggers; they just tied their man hand and foot, led him to a hill a outside Derekuoi, lit a big fire of wait-a-bit thorns, and burned him alive.
There is yet another method of abolishing a vampire, that of bottling him; there are certain persons who make a profession of this, and their mode of procedure is as follows; the sorcerer, armed with a picture of some saint, lies in ambush until he sees the vampire pass, when he pursues him with his Eikon; the poor Obour takes refuge in a tree or on the roof of a house, but his persecutor follows him up with the talisman, driving him away from all shelter, in the direction of a bottle specially prepared, in which is placed some of the vampire’s favourite food: having no other resource, he enters this prison, and is immediately fastened down with a cork, on the interior of which is a fragment of the Eikon. The bottle is then thrown into the fire, and the vampire disappears for ever. This method is curious as showing the grossly material view of the soul taken by the Bulgarians, who imagine that it is a sort of chemical compound destructible (like sulphuretted hydrogen) by heat, in the same manner that they suppose the souls of the dead to have appetites and to feed after the manner of living beings, ‘in the place where they are.’
To finish the story of the Bulgarian vampire we have merely to state that here he does not seem to have that peculiar appetite for human blood which is generally supposed to form his distinguishing and most terrible characteristic, only requiring it when his resources of coarser food are exhausted.
The town of Devnya, 30km west of Varna, is now known only for its highly noxious chemical industry, but during the last century its reputation was widespread as Bulgaria’s vampire capital.
As most Eastern Europe countries belief in vampires was widespread among the Bulgarian peasantry of the time and they had means of dealing with the night creatures.
Local wise men [known as vampirdzhiya or dzhadzhiya] were paid handsomely by villagers to drive the fiends away and vampire hunters of Devnya were considered the best in eastern Bulgaria.
To chase the vampires away, a dzhadzhiya would be summoned to walk among the flocks, holding an icon aloft. The icon also came in handy when trying to identify the resting place of the vampire. If it began to tremble when held above a particular grave, it meant that the culprit had been found. If the vampire was in spirit form, it could be driven into a bottle which was then thrown onto a fire.
We do have an example for such a ritual, presented in “Bulgarian Mythology” by Ivanichka Georgieva.
Acording to the author the incident takes place in 1882 somewhere in the Varna district. An epidemic broke out in two villages and the locals declared that they were caused by vampires so they called in the help of a couple of dzhadzhiya.
The dzhadzhiya marched around the village streets holding up a holy icon. When they came to a place where the icon started shaking in their hands, they knew that the vampire must have touched it.
They chased the vampire until they came to its grave and after opening it, they found a blooded corpse that was lying on its belly. The vampire hunters stuck a thorn into the heart of the corpse after which the vampire was cremated on a fire of hawthorn branches.
The vampire is said to have screamed when it was burned.
Two weeks later, the epidemics had come to an end.
As you can see the superstitions greatly differ from one region to another, but one thing remained the same… sometimes the dead came back to feed on the living so they had to be put down again!
The story is actually that of 2 incidents that happened in the village of Possega, either in modern day Croatia or Serbia. I cannot give you an exact location because there no such village listed on the maps yet the closest matches are in above listed countries – in case the name wasn`t changed in the centuries that followed.
The first incident occurred in 1721 when villagers were infected by vampires in the shape of snakes and eventually died a couple of days later being drained of blood.
About 3 weeks after they died, because the disease seemed to be spreading, the elders decided to open the graves of the recently deceased and examine them.
Upon finding a specific family whose members looked undecayed and the bodies were not in the specific position they were buried in, the proceeded to put a stake through the heart of the man [head of the family probably assumed to be the head of the “vampire family”].
Then all the corpses were decapitated and cremated, and their ashes were buried in their graves.
Years passed and everything seemingly returned to normal, however in 1730 we are told that the snake shaped vampires stuck again – this time feeding on a sheep.
A local found the animal on the hills and took it home. There the sheep was slaughtered [presumably this is when they noted the lack of blood in the animal] and the family feed on the meat.
The man, his wife, and two of their children, got sick and died, therefore the elders opened the graved for this family as well. They proceeded to the same ritual and the vampires are never mentioned again.
The events supposedly happened in the village of Mihaljevci before the 1900s.
A man died a very violent death by felling of a wagon – he got his head caught under a wheel and died from a crushed skull.
It was feared that he might return to demand revenge, however originally he was buried with no special rituals.
Eight days after his burial he came back and started sleeping with his neighbor’s wife, eventually getting her pregnant.
The elder women advised her to tie a long thread around his toe so she could uncover his grave during the day.
In the morning they followed the thread and together with the village priest the grave was opened. The dead man was found lying on his belly.
A hawthorn stake was driven through his head which exploded “with a sound as loud as a canon”.
The priest blessed the corpse and the dead man was never seen again. As for the child we are offered the information that it died soon.
NOTE: I had doubts about adding this as a “documented report” because there is no mention about blood drinking and/or a disease that would kill the wife of the neighbor, however it is listed as a vampire attack in “The Vampire – A Casebook” by Alan Dunde. Personally I believe this is the case of cheating wife needing excuse for her pregnancy out of the marriage.
Croatia is a country that believes in legends to this day, so it is not difficult to believe that the elders of some communities still hold much sway on the way certain issues are dealt with.
The story is said to have happened in 1936 in the region of Varazdin – specifically in the village of Kneginec. It is recounted in “Le Vampirisme – de la légende au réel” [vampirism – from legend to reality] by Robert Ambelain.
Suspicious things would happen in the area from time to time, with rather big intervals of time in between – therefore the legends and ways of cleansing the purge were passed on from father to son.
That is why, despite both the authorities and the clerics being against vampire superstitions, grave inspections were still practiced by the elders.
A number of young men and women had become the victims of a mysterious disease. Several died within a few weeks, others within two or three months at most. All of the victims had on their throats one or two bluish marks. Some of the victims would wake up during the night after suffering from horrible nightmares but this happened during the first couple of nights.
After that they would just slowly fade away, supposedly because of a corpse that had been buried in the Castle of Herdody in Varazdin!
In “Les Vampires” by Jean-Paul Bourre we are given a theory about the vampire that might have been responsible. Le points to the identity of the supposed vampire as Barbara of Cillei. The ritual for getting rid of the presence took place in the ruins of Varazdin, performed by an orthodox priest of the Oriental Church [Croatia is of orthodox religion, not catholic]. It is said that the haunting stopped after that.
NOTE: In a footnote, Ambelain adds: “This legend has perhaps inspired Sheridan LeFanu for his episode about the hidden tomb of Mircalla von Karnstein.”
The story takes place around the 1880s in the Croatian town of Opatija [in the documents the Italian name for it is used: Abbazia].
The authorities uncovered the corpse of an old man who had been shunned by the villagers while he was alive and who was given a rather unusual burial.
His tongue had been pierced and his hands and feet had been nailed to the bottom of his coffin in order to prevent him for leaving his grave.
The culprits were found and punished on account of the desecration of the corpse, however the whole community took the side of the criminals: the old man had been a vampire and the measures had only been taken to prevent the vampire from attacking and killing the local children and young girls.
NOTE: The same report mentions that the villagers opened another grave a couple of weeks after the first and proceeded to a bizarre ritual: they tied the corpse to a wooden stake and, by adding some rocks to the strings, sank it in the sea.
Yet another strange mix of traditions is the story of the Tirnova vampires, based on a letter written by Ahmet Sukru Effendi, that was sent in 1833 to Istanbul.
They have elements of ghost stories intertwined since it was reported that they would roam the village at night spoiling the food, messing up people’s belongings and throwing stones at people. Note that there was no blood sucking involved!
The hysteria became to widely spread that some families even started to relocate to other regions.
In an effort to save the community an exorcist called Nikola was brought in and paid [supposedly with 800 Kurus – currency at that time] to rid the people of their plague.
He used a stick and a Saint icon to locate the graves that needed to be opened, and, with the aid of the village elders proceeded to the examination.
They only found 2 suspicious graves, those of soldiers who`s corpses were found to be bloated, with grown hair and nails.
Nikola decided that a stake should be driven through the stomach, the heart should be cut out and boiled, while the rest of body was to be cremated.
Bulgaria is a focus point for vampiric activity in the middle ages, just as Romania and other countries in the Balkans are. The stories vary but the end result is always the same: the dead are inspected for the specific signs and in many cases the remains are desecrated.
This story is different because the people condemned a person for vampirism despite him being still alive.
The events took place around 1839, in the village of Derekuoi. It is no longer featured on maps but it is believed that it was a Christian village near Varna.
The situation seems to be a mix of vampire and warlock superstitions on the part of the villagers towards a man who had settled in the community some decades ago [supposedly around 30 years].
He had taken up roots and married a local woman to make a life for himself, however the woman complained that he never shared the conjugal bed.
It just so happens that many farmers complained that their cattle started to drop dead at regular intervals and that when the carcasses were examined it was found that they had been drained of blood.
Our man was the only one that couldn`t be accounted for during night time so he was examined, found to have only one nostril, and upon this irrefragable evidence was condemned to death.
The method of execution was burning on the stake on a hill outside the limits of Derekuoi.
In a letter by Augustin Calmet dated 1751, we are told the tale of a regiment of austro-hungarian soldiers camped in the Banat region of Romania close to the city of Timisoara.
Because the soldiers seem to be dying as a resul of a strange epidemic the noblemen send the imperial doctor, Gerhard van Swieten, to investigate the matter and appease folk superstitions pertaining to vampiric activity in the area.
Far from calming the spirits the medic noted that, before passing away, soldiers are officers alike presented the signs of being vampire victims:
– excessive fatigue
– lack of hunger
– extreme weight loss
The men would fade away in a matter of days without the signs of an obvious disease so the locals [aka romanian paesants] took matters into their own hands and proceeded to the normal way of identifying the vampire`s grave.
The took a virgin boy and asked him to ride a white horse through the cemetery; the grave that it refused to pass was opened.
They found a nearly presteen body; so well preserved that van Swieten noted it as being “similar to a living person that was actually sleeping”.
They proceeded to staking the corpse through the heart and it is said that the vampire attacks ceased.