Monday, March 31, 2014

Interesting shorts: the Vampire; or, Pedro Pacheco and the Bruxa

This short story by William H G Kingston was published in his 1863 volume Tales for all Ages. Reportedly based on Portuguese lore, it is astounding for two primary reasons. Firstly because the vampire of the tale, of the supernatural genus Bruxa, seems to be a clear amalgam of witch and vampire, and it also displays a dual existence trait more common to Far Eastern vampiric types. The second reason I'd because of a particular transformation trait.

The first part of the story explains Bruxa lore. Bruxa are female, possessed by an evil spirit and the daughter of a Bruxa will become one in her turn. However, a woman who is sinful may become Bruxa but this involves signing a contract and so is rather mediaeval witchcraft orientated suggesting a pact with the devil. Like many Far Eastern vampire types, she is a vampire by night and appears as a normal woman by day.

The Bruxa tricks her victims, luring them off their path and into danger (which is the main thrust of the primary Pedro Pacheco story). The vampiric element of the general lore involves the Bruxa returning to her home and sucking the life blood from her own children. The victims are described as being "marked with punctures".

I mentioned transformation and, describing the attack on their own children, Kingston suggests they have "black wings". I don't think it out to suggest that they are bat wings as Kingston also tells us that they can transform into owls and bats.

This definitively shows the transformation of a vampire into a bat some thirty-four years before the publication of Dracula.

The vampiric elements are described in the preamble to the main story. The main story itself is concerned with the leading of travellers astray and is less fulfilling from a lore point of view than its own preamble.

To read about how this affects the lore in regard to Stoker, you can read my essay Stoker and the Bat at Vamped.

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