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Derekuoi (2)
Tirnova (2)

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The Source:

S.G.B. St.Clair & Charles A. Brophy:
"A Residence in Bulgaria - or - Notes on the Resources and Administration of Turkey: The condition and character, manners, customs, and language of the Christian and Mussulman populations with reference to the Eastern question"
John Murray, London, 1869

The Case:

This is what the authors have to report:

"We will now give the unadulterated Bulgarian superstition, merely prefacing that we ought to be well acquainted with it, inasmuch as a servant of ours is the son of a noted vampire, and is doing penance during this present Lent by neither smoking, nor drinking wine or spirits, in order to expiate the sins of his father and to prevent himself inheriting the propensity."

In a footnote the authors add the following about this servant:

"Poor Theodore is head over ears in love with Miss Tuturitza, the young lady next door, who fully reciprocates his affection, but her parents refuse to sanction the marriage on account of the vampire father."

The story goes on:

"The father of our servant Theodore was a vampire of this class. 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."

There is another footnote:

"Of course, sceptical persons may be found who would explain this story by the hypothesis of too much wine and a fall over a heap of stones; fortunately our village does not contain any such freethinkers, and Old Cherry Tree will be happy to relate his tale, as we have given it, to any inquirer after truth: to prove its accuracy, he can call many witnesses who will swear to the fact of his jaw having been broken."

And the story continues:

"At the time of this occurrence, five years ago, our village was so infested by vampires that the inhabitants were forced to assemble together in two or three houses, to burn candles all night, and to watch by turns in order to avoid the assaults of the Obours who lit up the streets with their sparkles, and of whom the most enterprising threw their shadows on the walls of the room where the peasants were dying of fear; whilst others howled, shrieked, and swore outside the door, entered the abandoned houses, spat blood into the flour, turned everything topsy-turvy, and smeared the whole place, even the pictures of the saints, with cow-dung. Happily for Derekuoi, Yola's mother, an old lady suspected of a turn for witchcraft, discovered the Ilatch we have already mentioned, laid the troublesome and troubled spirits, and since then the village has been free from these unpleasant supernatural visitations."

The Date:

All we have is the fact that the events must have happened about 5 years before the publication of the book. So let us list this as having happened "around 1864".

The Place:

Sadly, I have not found the location so far, but Derekuoi is supposed to be a Christian village somewhere near Varna.

Personal Comments:

In case you are wondering, "Kodja Keraz" literally means "Old Cherry Tree". And there is mention of an "Ilatch" somewhere. Let's quote the authors: "An Ilatch (literally, medicine) administered by the witch or some other wise woman, who detects a vampire by the hole in his tombstone or the earth which covers him, and stuffs it up with human excrement (his favourite food) mixed with poisonous herbs."

Possible Follow-Up:

I think I have seen this case in Montague Summers and lots of other places. But I have found that it is usually best to go back to the original source, in our case, St.Clair & Brophy's "A Residence in Bulgaria". Of course we should try to find back the location. At the time it seems to have been a small village of some 60 houses. It may have disappeared. It may have grown. It may have changed its name...

2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 13 February 2012

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