Vjesci

Vjesci

(pop culture)

Vjesci (alternatively spelled vjeszczi or vjescey) was the name given to a type of vampire found in the lore of the Kashubian people of northeastern Poland. It was a variety of the Slavic vampire, and resembled the Nachtzeher found to the west in northern Germany. According to the mythology, a person destined to become a vjesci could be identified by a caul, a little membrane cap, on his head at the time of birth. When a child was born with such a cap, it was removed, dried, ground, and fed to the person on the occasion of his seventh birthday. Those actions would prevent the child from becoming a vampire. In other respects the potential vjesci appeared to be completely normal and grew up in the community undetected, although in some accounts the vjesci had a restless and easily excitable nature and a ruddy complexion. At the time of his death, he refused to take the sacrament. His body cooled very slowly, the limbs remained limber, and the lips and cheeks retained their redness. Spots of blood often appeared under his fingernails and on his face.

The vjesci did not really die, however. Rather, at midnight, after his burial, he awakened and ate his clothing and some of his own flesh. He then left the grave and attacked his family, sucking their blood to the point of death. Not satiated, he could also attack his neighbors. Several steps could be taken to protect oneself from a vjesci loose in the community. First, dying people should receive the Eucharist. A little earth was placed in the coffin under the body to prevent it from returning home. A crucifix or coin was placed under the tongue for the vampire to suck. A net might be placed in the coffin, with the understanding that the knots must be untied (a knot a year) before the vampire could arise. A bag of sand or seeds could be used in much the same manner. The body might be laid in the coffin face down so that the corpse, if it came to life, would merely dig itself further into the earth. When a vjesci was disinterred it might be found sitting in the coffin with open eyes, it might move its head and even make some noises. Its shirt might have been eaten. If the precautions at the time of burial had not stopped the vampire, either a nail was driven through the forehead or the head severed from the body and placed between its feet. Some of the blood that flowed from the new wound would be caught and given to any who had been attacked by the vampire. The vjesci was closely related to the wupji (or opji). They differed in that the wupji had two teeth rather than a caul at birth and was foreordained to become a vampire, with no possibility of altering its destiny. In working among the Kashubian immigrant community of Ontario, Canada, researcher Jan Perkowski often found that the terms vjesci and wupji were used interchangeably.

Sources:

Perkowski, Jan L. Vampires, Dwarves, and Witches among the Ontario Kashubs. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, National Museum of Man, Canadian Centre for Folkloric Studies, 1972. Reprinted in Jan L. Perkowski, ed., Vampires of the Slavs. Cambridge, MA: Slavica Publishers, 1976. 294 pp.

Vjeshtitza see: Southern Slavs, Vampires and the

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.