Last time, Adam illustrated five vampires from Malay folklore for me to prattle on about and tear a tiny
hole in the Hollywood vampire stereotype. This time, we're doing something just a little different. These
four vampires come from three different countries, and while they lack a grand unifying factor, I think you
will all agree that they beat the hell out of the modern vampire cliche.
Described by the Ashanti people of West Africa, this vampire was said to lurk in the darkest jungles,
hanging from trees with its hands and dangling its razor-sharp, hook-like feet. When a human or animal
passed underneath, it ensnared the victim in its hooks and used its solid iron teeth to eat it alive.
It is not to be confused with the Sasabonsam, which is described as a horned, bearded vampire or
demon with massive bat-like wings. It, too, hangs from trees to ambush prey, but lacks the hook-feet that
Asasabonsam are famous for.
Though otherwise human-like in appearance, it was sometimes said that the Asasabonsam had
unnaturally long legs, sometimes long enough to reach the ground while it sat in the treetops.
A type of vampiric ghost, the Indian Churel is usually the angry spirit of a woman who died in childbirth or
while menstruating. Her first victim is usually her last lover or most cherished family member, and she may
proceed in backwards order until everyone she knew has been completely drained of life. Taking on a
young and beautiful disguise, she may charm the same man for many years until he ages and dies
In her true form, the Churel is always hideous; a gruesome hag with dangling breasts, bloody claws and
filthy hair. Her strangest and most apparent features are her backwards-pointing feet and her mouth. In
most tales, she has jutting teeth and an unusually long, blackish tongue, but sometimes it is said that she has
no mouth at all.
|The Baital or Vetala
Another Indian vampire, the Baital may resemble small, bat-like
humans, monstrous bats or emaciated corpses that hang
upside-down. Their most noteworthy ability is to possess dead
bodies, which take on a grotesque appearance, and, like the
Churel, inverted limbs.
This creature is most famous for its role in "The Twenty-five
Tales of the Baital", a collection of stories often compared to the
Arabian Nights. In these tales, the legendary King Vikram is
tasked by a great yogi to retrieve a corpse occupied by a Baital.
After some struggle, the monster agrees to come with Vikram
only if the King will remain silent. Unfortunately for Vikram, this
vampire is a talkative one with a particular fixation on human
folly. It presents twenty-five tales with twenty-five moral
dilemmas, and ends each by asking the King if he can justify the
For twenty-four tales, the King is unable to remain silent. He
proudly and expertly defends human nature to the un-dead
being, even knowing that he must begin the journey anew. The
twenty-fifth, however, is a description of the future; a future
where Vikram's own liberal way of thinking has been twisted
into a world so amoral (by the standards of the time, i.e, women
hold as much power as men) that he is at a loss for words.
At the end of their journey, the baital at last abandons the
corpse (which reverts from an emaciated, monstrous form to that
of a child) but not before revealing the yogi's plan to sacrifice our
hero to his goddess, saving the King's life in return for "finally
admitting" that mankind is, and always will be, inherently flawed.
This fearsome flying creature takes on many different forms and is sometimes explained as a
shape-shifter, but is consistently serpentine or serpent-tailed and emits an eerie whistling sound. Its face or
upper body is alternately described in various combinations of bird, bat, human, frog, reptile or even
fish-like features, and it is normally covered in feathers, hair or vegetation.
In addition to draining blood, the Piuchen is said to produce some form of fluid or powder that blisters
flesh. This poison can be carried on the wind for great distances, and contaminates water.
In some parts of chile, the Piuchen is a snake that eventually matures into a large, hairy frog with blunt
wings and terrifying eyes. In others, its final form is that of a rooster. Regardless of its form it remains a
vampiric predator, feeding primarily on livestock.
While Piuchen has become the most common, its name doesn't actually have one recognized spelling. It
also goes by Piguchen, Pitutren, Pihuenche, and Pihuychen, just to name a few.