The Strigoi of Romania
Romanian Vampires have a long and varied history. The earliest known reference to a vampire in Romania dates back to the 11th century, when a monk named Eraclius wrote about an undead creature that could be found in the Carpathian Mountains. This creature was called a strigoi, which is the Romanian word for vampire. Strigoi are a type of undead vampire-like creature in Eastern European folklore. They are said to be the reanimated corpses of people who had died with unfinished business or had been cursed by a witch. Strigoi are typically described as having pale skin, long claws, red eyes, and a preference for drinking human blood. They are usually depicted as being able to shapeshift and are said to be able to fly. Furthermore, they are believed to be able to create familiars to do their bidding, and influence people’s thoughts and dreams. Strigoi are typically viewed as malevolent and dangerous creatures and are often used in stories to create fear and dread.
18th Century Vampires
During the 18th century, Romania was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Through this time, there were numerous reports of vampires roaming the countryside. Vampires in the Ottoman Empire of present day Turkey were quite different from Vampires in Romania in the 18th century. Ottoman vampires are said to have a head shaped like a dog, a long thin body, and red eyes. They are believed to drink the blood of humans and animals and have an insatiable hunger for human flesh. They are also believed to be able to fly and have the ability to transform into animals. In some tales, they are described as having a single eye that can see through walls.
Romanian vampires on the other hand, were believed to be the reanimated corpses of people who had died prematurely, usually due to a violent death or suicide. People believed they left their graves at night and fed on the blood of the living, usually targeting family members. However, some elements of the Ottoman vampire have influenced the beliefs of others concerning vampire lore.
In Romanian folklore, vampires could be identified by their bloated corpses and long, sharp nails. To protect themselves from vampires, villagers would place garlic, iron, and holy objects around their homes or the graves of their loved ones. In case this was not enough to fend off a vampire, it became necessary to kill one. To destroy a vampire, people would often stake them or decapitate them. Such reports of vampirism were taken so seriously that the local people went to great measures to protect themselves from these creatures.
19th Century Vampires
During the 19th century, the vampire became a popular figure in Romanian literature and folklore. The vampire was depicted as a creature of seduction, as well as a monster to be feared. Vampires in Romania in the 19th century were still believed to be the undead, the reanimated corpses of people who had died yet they were seductive rather than hideous. They came out at night and drank the blood of their victims, usually through biting them.
Vampires were thought to be able to transform into animals, and some were said to have the ability to fly. Such belief in vampires was widespread, and peasants often exhumed the bodies of suspected vampires to drive a stake through their hearts to prevent them from rising again. Interestingly, the idea that a stake through the heart could kill a vampire originated in the 19th century with a play called Der Vampir (The Vampire) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder. The play was based on an 18th century German folktale about a vampire who could only be killed by a stake through the heart.
Vampires in Romania were also believed to be able to cause illness, crop failure, and other misfortunes. As this belief in vampires was so widespread, some superstitious practices were developed in order to ward off vampires, such as placing garlic or wolfsbane around homes and carrying wooden crosses, holy water, and other religious artifacts. Such practices echo the previous century mingled with the newer beliefs of the time.
Popular literature of the time also portrayed the vampire as a noble figure, a symbol of Romania’s struggle against foreign rule. One such model was Vlad the Impaler. Vlad the Impaler was a historical figure who is often associated with vampire folklore. He was a 15th-century ruler of Wallachia (present-day Romania), known for his harsh punishments and for reportedly impaling his victims on stakes. In vampire lore, Vlad is frequently depicted as a powerful and bloodthirsty creature of the night who preys on the living and drinks their blood. He is often portrayed as a sinister figure shrouded in mystery and capable of ruling over the undead.
Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler, is believed to have been the inspiration for the vampire figure of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. Stoker was likely inspired by the stories of Vlad’s cruelty and bloodthirsty tendencies, as well as his association with Transylvania, which was a popular setting for horror stories at the time. Vlad’s notorious reputation for impaling his enemies on stakes, as well as drinking their blood, likely created the basis for the vampire myth.
Modern Romanian Vampires
Today, vampire legends still exist in Romanian folklore and is still believed by some to be a real creature. Modern vampires in Romania are still portrayed as creatures of the night, who are believed to feed on the blood of their victims in order to survive. Today they are viewed as seductive, mysterious and powerful, with an alluring and dangerous air about them. The Romanian vampire has been variously portrayed in folk tales and horror stories, as well as in films and books. These creatures are romantically seen as living in dark and foreboding castles and forests, and as having superhuman strength and abilities. They are also said to be able to shape shift into other creatures and possess hypnotic powers. Although the vampire is no longer feared in the same way it once was, it still remains an important part of Romania’s culture and history.
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