"There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples."
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Chapter 18: MINA HARKER'S JOURNAL - 30 September
The vampires are monsters that has both thrilled and terrified people for hundreds of years, from sophisticated Parisian theatre-goers to Eastern European peasants. Today the myth of vampires is omnipresent as one of the majors horror motifs in arts, literature and music.
Vampires are mythical or folkloric creatures, typically held to be the re-animated corpses of human beings and said to subsist on human and/or animal blood (hematophagy), often having unnatural powers, heightened bodily functions, and/or the ability to physically transform. Some cultures have myths of non-human vampires, such as demons or animals like bats, dogs, and spiders. Vampires are often described as having a variety of additional powers and character traits, extremely variable in different traditions, and are a frequent subject of folklore, cinema, and contemporary fiction.
Vampirism is the practice of drinking blood from a person/animal. Vampires are said to mainly bite the victim's neck, extracting the blood from the carotid artery. In folklore and popular culture, the term generally refers to a belief that one can gain supernatural powers by drinking human blood. The historical practice of vampirism can generally be considered a more specific and less commonly occurring form of cannibalism. The consumption of another's blood (and/or flesh) has been used as a tactic of psychological warfare intended to terrorize the enemy, and it can be used to reflect various spiritual beliefs.
Vampire myths go back thousands of years and they are found in almost every culture around the world. Their variety is almost endless; from red eyed monsters with green or pink hair in China to the Greek Lamia which has the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a winged serpent; from vampire foxes in Japan to a head with trailing entrails known as the Penanggalang in Malaysia.
The history of the vampire begins in ancient Persia, where a vase was discovered depicting a man struggling with a huge creature which is trying to suck his blood. Then, there was discovered a deity known for drinking the blood of babies, Lilitu or "Lilith", in a Babylonian myth. During the 6th century BC, traces of the "Living Dead" were also found in China. More legends continued throughout the entire world, including India, Malaysia, Polynesia and the lands of the Aztecs and Eskimos. For example, Aztecs believed that offering a young victim’s blood to the Gods ensured the fertilization of the earth.
The modern concept of the vampire occurs for the first time in European civilization. In both Roman and Greek mythology, there are found numerous bloodthirsty Goddesses, known as Lamiae, Empusae and Striges, names which eventually evolved into the general terms for Witches, Demons and Vampires. But these Vampires, though they do drink blood, were only Goddesses...not "living Dead", but disembodied divinities capable of taking on human appearances so that they might seduce their victims. The vampires we know today are nothing else but mutation determined by fiction and movies.
That last category can be split into three other categories, in accordance with the specific types of energy the vampires feed on:
More about: Vampire traits