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April 17, 2010

Gypsy Legends on Vampires

Vampires have many ties to the gypsies of Europe.  Gypsies originated in India, not in Egypt, contrary to the etymology of the term gypsy.  Each tribe has slightly different legends that change over time, presumably because the stories are passed down orally.  Overall, it is believed by gypsies that when someone dies their soul hovers around the grave and resides in the corpse.  The souls of the dead may grow restless, so funeral rites are often elaborate and families attempt to visit the grave often in order to keep their ancestor’s souls content.  The gypsies believed in a figure similar to that of Kali Ma from India, called Sara, the black virgin. 

Gypsies believed in the mulo or mullo, which literally means one who is dead.  These beings are the gypsy’s version of the vampire.  Gypsies viewed death as unnatural, so untimely deaths and suicides were especially bad in gyspy culture.  Deaths like these might result in a vampire.  These vampires were said to hunt down the person or persons who caused their death.  Prime candidates for these “death causers” were generally relatives of the deceased who had failed to destroy the remains and instead kept them for themselves.  The vampire could also go after those whom it held a grudge against, usually those who did not observe elaborate burial or funeral rites. 

Above: A remake of Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Scud Mountain Boys, for your listening pleasure.

Gypsy vampires generally appeared quite normal but could have a slight detection of their supernatural power on their physical body, either a lost appendage like a finger or perhaps an animal-like appearance.  Vampires were believed to be seen at any time in the day or night, although some viewed these creatures as strictly nocturnal.  Interestingly, Slavic and German gypsies believed that vampires did not have bones, since they noticed that the bones were often left behind in the graves… Huh. 

Gypsies thought that these vampires would perform many ghastly activities, such as attacking relatives and sucking their blood, or destroying property and throwing things around at night.  Male vampires were said to return from the dead to have sex with their wives, girlfriends, or other women.  Female vampires could assume normal lives and possibly even marry, though the husband of a female vampire would be exhausted, as these ladies were very demanding in the bed.

Gypsies believed that animals and even plants could become vampires.  Some animals that could return as the undead were snakes, horses, chickens, dogs, cats and sheep.  To learn more about plants as vampires, read this previous blog entry.

Above:  I doubt gypsy vampire cats looked like this…but I wish they did…

Gypsies did believe that vampirism could be prevented.  A victim of a vampire could call upon a dhampir, or the son of a vampire, who resulted from intercourse between a vampire and his widow.  Dhampir were said to have a strong connection with vampires and could easily detect a vampire’s presence.  Some believed that dhampir had a jelly-like body, since it was believed that vampires did not have bones.  Thus, dhampir had shortened lifespans.  I wonder if the dhampir suffered from a physical disability of some sort, and that calling them a dhampir was the gypsy’s way of explaining this phenomenon. 

All in all, the legends and folklore regarding vampires varies based on the geographical location of the gypsy band.  To learn more about the connection between gypsies and vampires, visit this site.

Filed by at April 17th, 2010 under Legends/Folklore
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