Vampire Apotropaics Part 3: Undead Bondage

In this segment learn how carpets, oil or a bowl of cold water can keep a vampire in his place.

This segment of vampire aprotopaics deals with constraint or restrictive measures. The goal is to make sure the undead cannot move or leave its grave. The most obvious implement were ropes. In some areas of Eastern Europe the knees were bound or the whole body tightly tied with rope. Finally, binding the corpse in a carpet completely immobilized it, thus preventing the vampire from rising from the dead.

Sharp items, meant to injure or weaken the vampire were also common. Many corpses were buried with knives or the more infamous sickle (possible the reason we associate death with a sickle). Usually the sharp item was positioned to cause damage to the undead. With the sickle, it was placed over the neck so that if the vampire should rise, he would slice off his head.

A 19th century image of the reaper

A 19th century image of the reaper

In Morocco steel, iron, or silver daggers were left in the grave while the Slavs used hairpins. Thorns also did the job, though being much smaller, these were inserted in key points: under the tongue or in the navel. Some corpses were bound with thorny briars. On possible reason for this was to keep the body from swelling (a key sign of vampirism). In Eastern Prussia, a bowl of cold water was placed under the boards were the corpse lay in rest. Additionally, tin spoon were laid on top to weigh the body down.

Explorer VI:Vampire ForensicsNGC US- Ep Code: 4816

In 2006, a team excavated a mass grave from the 16th century in Venice. They discovered a skeleton with a brick jammed between it’s teeth. Possibly another restraint to keep the vampire from attacking.

Iron has always been though to repel evil. In Romania, iron forks were sometimes stabbed into the heart, eyes, and breast of the deceased while the Bulgarians drove a red-hot poker through the heart. Boiling oil, poured around the grave, was believed to prevent the vampire form leaving. So too, bowls of of excrement and poison.

Sometimes just ignoring a vampire was enough to protect yourself. In Romanian lore, it was believed that vampires could only ask a question one time. The superstition arose that you should only answer someone if they call upon you three times. If you answer a vampire’s request, then he will have power over you.

In Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me Mustafa (played by Will Ferrel) must be asked a question three time for him to answer it. Not really a vampire, but it sprang to mind. Click the picture for a link to the scene on YouTube.

In “Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me” Mustafa (played by Will Ferrel) must be asked a question three time for him to answer it. Not really a vampire, but it sprang to mind. Click the picture for a link to the scene on YouTube.

In the final segment, we explore ways to destroy the vampire, including but not limited to drinking ashes, a needle, and a sock (yes, a sock).

Tim Kane

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One comment on “Vampire Apotropaics Part 3: Undead Bondage

  1. […] Next learn how knots, dead dogs, and excrement can keep a vampire at bay. Then there’s the folklore behind lemons, clocks, and tar that cause the vampire to back off. If you need to capture a vampire, don’t just use rope. Go with carpets, oil or a bowl of cold water to keep a vampire in his place. […]

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