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  • Good evening!

  • What's the matter?

  • Are you afraid of vampires?

  • Hehe, no need to worry,

  • I'm not staying for dinner.

  • Ahahaha. I'm here to guide you

  • through a brief history of vampires,

  • illustrating how our image has changed

  • from a shambling corpse

  • to the dapper gentleman you see before you.

  • Vampires are nearly as old as you humans.

  • Stories about us, our evidence,

  • appear in cultures extending

  • as far back as prehistoric times.

  • But we weren't called vampires back then

  • and most of us did not look the way

  • we imagine vampires today,

  • far from it!

  • For example, the Mesopotamian Lamashtu

  • was a creature with a head of a lion

  • and the body of the donkey,

  • and the ancient Greek striges

  • were simply described as bloodthirsty birds.

  • Others were even stranger.

  • The Philippine manananggal would sever her upper torso

  • and sprout huge, bat-like wings to fly.

  • The Malaysian Penanggalan was a flying female head

  • with dangling entrails.

  • Heh heh heh heh.

  • And the Australian Yara-ma-yha-who

  • was a little red guy with a big head,

  • a large mouth,

  • and bloodsuckers on his hands and feet.

  • Oh, and let's not forget the Caribbean's Sukuyan,

  • the West African obayifo,

  • and the Mexican Tlahuelpuchi.

  • Heh heh, charming, aren't they?

  • Though they may look vastly different,

  • all of these beings have one common characteristic:

  • They sustain themselves by consuming

  • the life force of a living creature.

  • This shared trait is what defines a vampire --

  • all other attributes change with the tides.

  • So, how do we arrive

  • at the reanimated fellow you see before you?

  • Our modern ideal emerges

  • in 18th-century Eastern Europe.

  • With the dramatic increase of vampire superstitions,

  • stories of bloodsucking, shadowy creatures

  • become nightly bedside terrors.

  • And popular folklore,

  • like the moroi among the Romani people

  • and the lugat in Albania,

  • provide the most common vampire traits known today,

  • such as vampires being undead

  • and nocturnal

  • and shape-shifting.

  • You see, Eastern Europe in the 18th century

  • was a pretty grim place

  • with many deaths occurring

  • from unknown diseases and plagues.

  • Without medical explanations,

  • people searched for supernatural causes

  • and found what looked like evidence

  • in the corpses of the victims.

  • When villagers dug up bodies

  • to discern the cause of the mysterious deaths,

  • they would often find the cadavers

  • looking very much alive --

  • longer hair and fingernails,

  • bloated bellies,

  • and blood at the corners of mouths.

  • Heh heh, clearly, these people were not really dead.

  • Heh, they were vampires!

  • And they had been leaving their graves

  • to feast on the living.

  • The terrified villagers would quickly enact

  • a ritual to kill the undead.

  • The practices varied across the region,

  • but usually included beheadings,

  • burnings,

  • and staking the body to the coffin

  • to prevent it from getting up.

  • Grizzly stuff!

  • But what the villagers interpreted as unholy reanimation,

  • they're actually normal symptoms of death.

  • When a body decomposes,

  • the skin dehydrates,

  • causing the hair and fingernails to extend.

  • Bacteria in the stomach creates gases

  • that fill the belly,

  • which force out blood and matter through the mouth.

  • Unfortunately, this science was not yet known,

  • so the villagers kept digging.

  • In fact, so many bodies were dug up

  • that the Empress of Austria sent

  • her physician around to disprove the vampire stories,

  • and she even established a law

  • prohibiting grave tampering.

  • Still, even after the vampire hunts had died down,

  • the stories of legends survived

  • in local superstition.

  • This led to works of literature,

  • such as Polidori's "The Vampyre,"

  • the Gothic novel "Carmilla,"

  • and, most famously, Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

  • Although Stoker incorporated historical material,

  • like Elizabeththory's virgin blood baths

  • and the brutal executions of Vlad Dracul,

  • it was these local myths

  • that inspired the main elements of his story:

  • the Transylvanian setting,

  • using garlic to defend oneself,

  • and the staking of the heart.

  • While these attributes are certainly familiar to us,

  • elements he invented himself

  • have also lasted over the years:

  • fear of crucifixes,

  • weakness in sunlight,

  • and the vampire's inability

  • to see their reflection.

  • By inventing new traits,

  • Stoker perfectly enacted the age-old tradition

  • of elaborating upon

  • and expanding the myth of vampires.

  • As we saw,

  • maybe you met my relatives,

  • a huge of variety of creatures stalked the night

  • before Dracula,

  • and many more will continue

  • to creep through our nightmares.

  • Yet, so long as they subsist

  • off a living being's life force,

  • they are part of my tribe.

  • Even sparkling vampires can be included.

  • After all, it's the continued storytelling

  • and reimagining of the vampire legend

  • that allows us to truly live

  • forever.

  • Ahahahahaha!

Good evening!

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B2 TED-Ed heh vampire heh heh dracula undead

【TED-Ed】Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact - Michael Molina

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    Liling Lee Liling posted on 2014/04/03
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