April 6, 2010
The Talamaur is a vampire-like monster from the Banks Islands in the South Pacific. I chose to include a map to show where the island is located, since I had never heard of the Banks Islands before and it tickled my fancy to see where these vampires originated from on the map.
The belief in the Talamaur is said to be derived from the strong belief that natives on the island held of lively intercourse with the dead. Some natives feared the dead while others welcomed the interaction with dead spirits. Natives believed that the soul of a living person, called the tarunga, could separate from the body and wander about, which was verified in the dream experiences. The Chinese held a similar belief to the Talamaur, since they believed that the superior soul could wander the countryside, and that the inferior soul, or p’o would linger in the body following death. The Talamaur is the being that ate the tarunga or life still lingering around the body of a corpse or recently deceased person. This belief resulted in the ghoul-like behavior of some natives who would eat a corpse with the hope of creating a bond with the dead person’s tarunga. Natives believed that any tarunga the Talamaur devoured in this way would align themselves with the Talamaur, and fight alongside the Talamaur. If people in the village felt afflicted or if they felt a sense of dread in the presence of someone that person was said to be a Talamaur. There was no crime in being a Talamaur in native society, in fact some actually projected the image of being a Talamaur on purpose.
Most of the information I found about the Talamaur came from The Vampire Book: the Encyclopedia of the Undead, and the information there was attributed to R. H. Codrington. I found some information on Mr. Codrington, whose full name is Robert Henry Codrington. Mr. Codrington was an Anglican priest and anthropologist who made one of the very first systematic studies of Melanesian culture. More information on Codrington can be found at this site. If you’re really interested in learning more about the Talamaur and other aspects of Melanesian culture, check out Codrington’s books The Melanesians: Studies in Their Anthropology and Folklore and A Dictionary of the Language of Mota, Sugarloaf Islands, Banks’ Islands.