Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Another kind of heart eater

'Step into the world of your grandparents,' a Danish travel agency promises when advertising trips to Romania. Eating the heart of a dead man probably wasn't practised in the days of my grandparents, but that's another example of heart eating mentioned by Christa Tuczay in her book. I have actually posted about the incident she refers to, because it's the case of a suspected vampire in Marotinu de Sus in late 2003, but in my post I wrote that 'they cut up the corpse and removed the heart which they burnt at the cross roads.'

A later report on the incident was published in The Independent in October 2007, when Dr. Timothy Taylor recounted what happened when he visited the village and talked to an elderly villager who claimed to have witnessed the exhumation of other presumed vampires (strigoi). He told Taylor that 'The men took the heart, spiked aloft, to the crossroads outside the village. There they roasted it over a brazier and, as far as I could understand, stuffed glowing coals into the ventricles. Held up in the night sky, the heart shed charred flakes that were caught in a tea towel. These were taken to the niece's house [supposedly a victim of the vampire], ground up and mixed in a glass of water. "The niece drank it," Fifor [an anthropologist] confirmed, "and in the morning she said she felt better... in this way she was cured."'

Tuczay comments that according to Fifor the eating of the heart of a vampire is neither a well-known nor old Romanian remedy against strigoi.

Taylor, unfortunately, seems to subscribe to the improbable theory of Juan Gomez-Alonso that the vampire cases of the 17th and 18th centuries might have been caused by rabies. To quote Peter Mario Kreuter: 'Doch alle diese Versuche erwiesen sich als Fehlschläge, denn die Mediziner bedienten sich des Vampirglaubens als eine Art Steinbruch und pickten sich nur diejenigen Elemente des Volkglaubens heraus, die ihre Theorie zu stützen schienen, wobei sie oft noch nicht einmal zwischen Elementen des Volksglaubens und erfundenen Details der Belletristik sauber unterscheiden konnten.' (Der Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa, p. 12-13)

Below is the last part of the True Blood episode about vampires including footage from Marotinu de Sus as found on youtube. As mentioned in my old post, the series is available on DVD.

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