Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Savage inspiration

What was once a mystery, was finally solved, thanks to Little Socks. For years, I'd been puzzled over the source of a vampire picture I had on my hard-drive. It turned out the picture was called Penangglan and painted by Chad Savage in 1994.

I contacted Mr. Savage1 to get an insight into the creative process and the why behind his brilliant illustration. Here's what he had to say:
I was bitten by the Vampire Bug in 1987; by 1994, I had read many books about vampires, one of which was “The Book of Vampires” by Dudley Wright. After creating the painting in question, which featured a variety of historical and current interpretations of the concept of vampires (circa 1994), I was looking for a title, and Penanggalan (I may very well have started spelling it wrong over the years) jumped out at me while I was reading Mr. Wright’s book.

So there you go, mystery solved – I just thought it would make a cool title for a general image interpreting the concept of “VAMPIRE”.

I painted it for myself, and it was one of the first images I ever posted online. Bear in mind that, in 1994/95/96, the idea of image piracy didn’t exist – it never occurred to me (or many other artists at the time) that posting our work online was sending it out into the world to be endlessly ripped off. ;)2
Chad also included two links in his response. The first concerns his background with vampires and the second shows that Penangglan is far from his only illustration of the undead.

Regarding his inspiration—Dudley Wright's The book of vampires—as it happens, I own two copies: the first was published by Causeway Books, New York, in 1973 (left); the second by Dorset Press, New York, in 1987.

My copies, and Savage's, are retitled reprints: the original was published as Vampires and vampirism by William Rider and Sons, London, in 1914. A revised edition followed in 1924. The book has also been published under its original title, as the Tynron Press, Dumfriesshire, 1991 reprint attests; or embellished with a subtitle as per Lethe Press, Maple Shade, N.J.'s 2001 reprint, Vampires and vampirism: legends from around the world.

Despite Savage's hesitance on spelling, the 'Penangglan' variant is found in Wright's book, when he noted 'amongst the Malays a penangglan, or vampire, is a living witch, who can be killed if she can be caught in the act of witchery.'3 A Google Books search also turned up the same variant, even if their origin probably lies with Wright.

Spelling variants are common when it comes to transcribing vampire 'species'. Indeed, Theresa Bane notes several for the penangglan, itself: 'Pananggaln, Panangglan, Pênangal, Penanggalan, Pontianak'.4

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Chad for sharing his painting's story. Oh, and not suing me for posting his picture. Cheers.

1 A Hogg, 'Penangglan', Thursday, 22 September 2011 6:54:20 PM, <amateurvampirologist@hotmail.com>.

2 C Savage, 'RE: Penangglan‏', Monday, 26 September 2011 6:15:34 PM, <savage@sinistervisions.com>.

3 D Wright, The book of vampires, Causeway Books, New York, 1973, p. 4.

4 T Bane, Encyclopedia of vampire mythology, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, N.C., 2010, p. 114.

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