Saturday, 17 November 2012

Vampiric strength

The occasional Scott Brown
'This vampire which is amongst us is of himself so strong in person as twenty men,' notes Van Helsing. The vampire's strength is one of its popular characteristics. The trope is upheld in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga.

Does this literary and cinematic device have a folkloric precedent? Actually, it does. S.G.B. St. Clair and Charles A. Brophy discussed the vampiric state of their servant's father, apparently in the early stages of vampirism:
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.1
That must've looked quite a sight. Interestingly, vampire invisibility is also found in other regions. Vukanović noted 'in the villages of Upper and Lower Srbica, they think that a vampire is only visible to his son Dhampir, to a magician or sorceror, and to nobody else'.2

2. TP Vukanović, 'The vampire (in the belief and customs of the Gypsies in the province of Kosovo-Metohija, Stari Ras and Novopazarski Sandžak, Yugoslavia)', Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, 3rd ser, vol. 37, no. 3–4, 1958, p. 114.

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