(pop culture)

The talamaur was the vampirelike creature of the Banks Islands in the South Pacific.

The people of Banks Island had a strong belief in the possibility of lively intercourse with the ghosts of the dead. While some feared the dead, others welcomed interaction with the spirit world. There was also a strong belief that the soul of a living person, a tarunga, could separate from the body and wander about, a belief often verified in dream experiences. The talamaur was described as a soul or tarunga that went out and ate the soul or life still lingering around the body of the corpse of a recently deceased person. It also described the ghoul-like behavior of a living person who would eat a corpse with the understanding that the ghost of the dead person would become a close companion of the talamaur and would use his ghostly power against anyone to whom he was directed. If people in the village felt afflicted, and if they developed a sense of dread in the presence of one of their neighbors, that neighbor would be suspected of being a talamaur. It was no crime to be a talamaur, and it was the practice of some to actually project the image of being a one.

R. H. Codrington, the main source of information on the creature, told the story of one woman who claimed to be a talamaur, and on the occasion of a death in the village bragged that she would visit and eat the corpse that evening. Friends of the dead person watched to protect the body. During the course of the evening, they heard some scratching noises close to the corpse. One person threw a stone toward the noise. The next day the woman who claimed to be the talamaur had a bruise on her arm, which she said came from being hit while eating the corpse.


Codrington, R. H. The Melanesians: Studies in Their Anthropology and Folk-lore. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891, 1969. 419 pp.

Teeth see: Fangs

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References in periodicals archive ?
In Malaysia, the talamaur controlled the ghosts of the dead to drain the vitality of the recently dead, sometimes that of the dying, the langsuir was a flying woman with long nails and long black hair who attacked children at night, the penanggalen--a vinegar-smelling beautiful old or young woman, traditionally feeding on pregnant women and young children--was a creature having only a head, a stomach and some dangling entrails (Cheung 2009: 349, 435-436).