VAMPIR(E) – An Original Serbian Word

One of the few original Serbian words is “Vampir” referring to a soul of a deceased man haunting the living people of his neighbourhood. Long before Bram Stoker and Hollywood made count Dracula a really immortal figure of modern culture, the Serbs had their legends on undead people tormenting their co-nationals.

Two famous vampire cases, the first to be officially recorded, involved the corpses of Petar Blagojević and Miloš Čečar from Serbia. Blagojević was reported to have died at the age of 62, but allegedly returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. Blagojević supposedly returned and attacked some neighbors who died from loss of blood.

In the second case, Miloš Čečar, an ex-soldier turned farmer who allegedly was attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After his death, people began to die in the surrounding area and it was widely believed that Miloš had returned to prey on the neighbors.

The two incidents were well-documented. Government officials examined the bodies, wrote case reports, and published books throughout Europe. The hysteria, commonly referred to as the “18th-Century Vampire Controversy”, raged for a generation. The problem was exacerbated by rural epidemics of so-claimed vampire attacks, undoubtedly caused by the higher amount of superstition that was present in village communities, with locals digging up bodies and in some cases, staking them.

Another, perhaps the most famous Serbian vampire legend recounts the story of a certain Sava Savanović, who lived in a watermill and kept killing and drinking blood from the millers. The character was later used in a story written by Serbian writer Milovan Glišić and in the Yugoslav modern horror film Leptirica (“Lady Butterfly”) inspired by the story.