Armenia is a country of countless legends and myths. Most of which still remain very much unknown in the west. Nevertheless, legends travel fast, and sometimes the unexpected happens. Among such legends a rare account of Vampirism recorded by a traveler to Armenia. In his book “Transcaucasia: Sketches of the Nations and Races Between the Black Sea and the Caspian,” published in 1854, Baron von Hauxthausen recalls a tale of an Armenian vampire known to the locals as “Dakhanavar” (also called ‘Dashnavar’). The account has been made mention by then leading occult research figure, Montague Summers (1880-1947) and Jonathan Maberry author of “Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings That Haunt Us, Hunt Us and Hunger for Us”.
According to legend, there was a vampire, Dakhanavar, who resided in the mountains of Ultmish Alto-tem. He was very protective and did not like anyone intruding in around his residence among the mountains and valleys. If one did, he would attack them in the night and kill them by sucking the blood from the soles of the intruders feet. At last outwitted by travelers aware of his presence, the Vampire ran away from the valleys never to be seen again.
The story of the Dakhanavar as documented in 1854 by Baron August von Haxthausen:
There once dwelt in a cavern in this country a vampire, called Dakhanavar, who could not endure anyone to penetrate into these mountains or count their valleys. Everyone who attempted this had in the night his blood sucked by the monster, from the soles of his feet, until he died. The vampire was however at last outwitted by two cunning fellows: they began to count the valleys and when night came on they lay down to sleep, taking care to place themselves with the feet of the one under the head of the other. In the night the monster came, felt as usual and found a head: then he felt at the other end, and found a head there also. “Well,” he cried. “I have gone through the whole 366 Valleys of these mountains, and have sucked the blood of people without end, but never yet did I find any one with two heads and no feet!” SO saying, he ran away and was never more seen in that country; but ever after the people have known that the mountain has 366 Valleys.Baron von Hauxthausen (1854) Transcaucasia: Sketches of the Nations and Races Between the Black Sea and the Caspian.
Acording to Jonathan Maberry’s:
The Dakhanavar is ferociously territorial and will assault anyone who tries to make a map of its lands, or even count the hills and valleys in the region, correctly fearing that a thorough knowledge of the landscape would reveal all of its secret hiding places.
Even today some travelers in Armenia, particularly those going into the region of Mount Ararat, generally take precautions against evil beings such as Dakhanvar. Often, they put small cloves of raw garlic in various pockets or mash it up and rub the paste on their shoes. At night, if camping out of doors, these travelers build a large fire and toss garlic bulbs into the flames. The combination of garlic aroma and a blazing fire will drive almost all of the world’s many species of vampires away.Jonathan Maberry (2006) Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings That Haunt Us, Hunt Us and Hunger for Us
Perhaps related to this topic, there used to be a peculiar superstition among some Armenian communities to make sure deceased people would not return to life as vampires or other creatures. Read about it here.
Another supernatural legend recorded in Armenia concerns Werewolves, covered in one of my previous posts here.