The Chinese believe that mankind has two souls. The Hun is the superior soul, associated with the Shen, or good spirits. If this soul is seen following death, it looks like its physical form in life. The other soul, regarded as inferior, is called the P'o. This is an extremely malignant spirit associated with evil spirits, otherwise known as the Kuei. The P'o is thought to remain in the body following death. It can sometimes prevent decomposition and make the corpse look like the living, such is the strength it possesses.
The Chinese vampire is known as the Ch'iang Shih. They somewhat resemble their western counterparts, though the fact that they are associated with the P'o makes them more complicated. In addition to animating bodies, these demons can create a being from merely an old skull or a few bones, rotten or not.
Descriptionwise, these creatures posses red eyes, razor talons, white or greenish hair all over their bodies, resembling mold and/or decay, and they not only suck blood but devour the flesh of the dead. Vampires and cannibals both?
Japan has its own selection of demons and evil spirits, and one of the most insidious is a monster vampire cat which buries its victims after sucking out the lifeblood, thereafter assuming the form of the deceased so it can prey upon the victim's loved ones.
Langsuir: seen as a beautiful woman who wears a flowing green robe. She has long, sharp nails and black hair flowing down to her ankles. Oddly, this creature uses a hole in the back of her neck to suck the blood of children. Why does she do this? Belief has it she had a stillborn child and, overcome with grief, escaped into the jungle, where she turned into a demon. A langsuir can also be created if a woman dies during childbirth or right afterward. To prevent this transformation, the dead woman's mouth is filled with glass beads, eggs put in her armpits and needles in the palms of her hands. Those who become a langsuir also like fish and often steal from fishermen. And she can change into an owl. As if all of this isn't strange enough, she can be captured with the use of proper procedures. Her nails and hair must be cut, then the hair stuffed into the hole at the back of her neck. This guarantees that she behaves as a normal, tame woman. It's rather obvious this myth was created by men.
Pennanggalan: an example of the nonbeautiful vampire, she also prefers the blood of young children. According to legend, she was an old woman. One day, while performing religious duty, the appearance of a strange man startled her so much that she kicked herself under the chin while jumping up. This kick was so violent her head was separated from her body. Her head and dangling entrails flew away into the treetops, to be a nasty monster forwever afterwards. An alternate version of her origins has her as an old woman practicing black magic. A devil tutored her and taught her how to willfully separate her head from her body. Once sated, her intestines were bloated with her unholy feast of blood, and she had to soak them in a vinegar vat to shrink them so she could return to her body. If her blood drips on anyone, horrendous sores appear, and the unfortunate person could be struck by a dreadful illness.
To prevent her from attacking children, especially her favored victim -- the newborn -- thorns were strung around windows and doors to snag her intestines and trap her. Thorns were also used by ancient Greeks, and among Serbs, Bohemians and Hungarians in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Polong: a creature, humanoid in appearance, no longer than an inch in size. This little oddity is made even stranger by its habit of acting only in unison with a familiar, known as the pelesit. The polong's familiar uses a razor-sharp tail to burrow a hole into the victim. When the hole is big enough, the pelesit chirps and the polong enters the body of the unfortunate one, who then goes insane. The victim usually rants and raves about cats.
The polong is neither formerly a human, nor a demon. One is created by collecting a murdered man's blood in a bottle. During the course of a week or more, incantations are uttered and spells are constantly cast upon the blood, and the polong will be created. When it is ready to emerge, it chirps just like the pelesit. At this stage, the creature's creator must nick his finger and stick it in the bottle every day to nourish his little monster. The polong obeys its master's orders to either kill the enemy, or drive them insane.
And the pelesit is made from a dead infant's tongue. The main requirements: a firstborn child of a firstborn mother, dead less than forty days.
Bajang: a vampiric demon also created by magic, it typically is seen as a large lizard or weasel-type creature. A sorceror makes this demon from the soul of an infant that dies at birth and is freshly buried. Incantations chanted at night bring the body out of its new grave. Bajangs are also used to harm enemies, who are seized by convulsions and fainting spells, after an attack. If the creator is discovered and killed, the bajang is also destroyed.
The archetype of Indian vampires is a goddess, not a true vampire at all. She is Kali. Her benign aspects are known as Durga and Parvati. But Kali is far from benign, being the goddess of bloodthirst, death, plagues, destruction and violence. Her idol is dark and her hair long and flowing. She possesses immense fangs and bloodstained hands at the ends of four arms. Kali wields a sword in one hand, a severed head in the second, while her other two arms beckons her worshippers. Adding to her monstrous image, she wears both a necklace of human skulls and dangling skeletons for earrings. With blood red eyes, with her tongue hanging perversely out of her mouth, she presents a chilling image in a land of extreme heat and humidity.
Kali's worshippers, called Thugs (coming from an Indian word for "deceiver"), garrotted and strangled their victims before robbing them. Thuggee was the word used for these murderous practices. Before the British stamped the Thugs out during the 1830s, it was estimated they performed as many as 30,000 murders per year. This is obviously the origin of the word thug as applied to murderers, thieves and other kinds of criminals.
It is claimed that the cult of Kali is still active in remote areas of India.
Rakshasa: a vampire demon of many colors, either bright yellow, green or blue, it is deformed and very ugly. Other characteristics include its long, gleaming slits of eyes and lethal talons. If anyone is scratched by a rakshasa, they are doomed to painful death. It is known to animate the dead, eat human flesh and perform acts of mischief, notably interfering with religious rituals and stealing horses, a culinary favorite of this monster. An interesting difference to this legend has the rakshasa being fabulously rich, and they sometimes take a liking to a particular human, whom they then endow with endless riches.
Vetala: lurks in burial grounds, dark forests and other sinister places. These creatures can also animate corpses. They have voracious appetites and tear their human prey to pieces with supernatural strength. It can occasionally be seen hanging upside down in trees much like bats. This demon will sometimes display a benign attitude towards humans, even helping them. But overall, it is strictly a monster.
| Early Types of Vampires | European Vampires | Eastern Vampires |
|Vampires Then and Now|
|Vampires: Fang and Horror|
|Forever Knight: Vivid Vamps|
|Jonathan Frid: Fated Elan|
|Peter Cushing: Debonnaire Gent|
|Films of Peter Cushing|
|Vincent Price: Daemon Urbane|
|Bela Lugosi: Horror Maestro|
|Films of Bela Lugosi|
|Christopher Lee: Dark Charisma|
|Films of Christopher Lee|
|Frank Langella: Romantic Raconteur|
|Gary Oldman: A Mummer's Voice|
|In a Welcoming Vein: Vampire Renaissance map|
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|The Entrance Gate|
Most graphics created or adapted by Dracowylde
Vampires Then and Now