Vampires have always been popular in the Entertainment business with books and movies such as Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, and Nosferatu, but what about their half-breed offspring? Luckily for them, they seem to get just as much love. Dhampirs appear in all forms of entertainment including Blade, Bloodrayne, and Vampire Academy, but where exactly did these hybrids get their start?
The History of the Dhampir
Traditionally, a Dhampir is a half-breed born from a human mother and a vampire father. Sticking to legend, you can easily tell a Dhampir from a normal human by their appearance. According to Albanian and Serbian legend, Dhampirs have long, dark unkempt hair and do not have a shadow. Bulgarian folklore says that Dhampirs have no nails or bones and often look rather disheveled. A vampire or Dhampir having no bones is not a description we are used to, but Bulgarian folklore states that a vampire can be a “shapeless, jelly-like bag of blood, which has no bones…” Creepy, right? Luckily for us, no authors or directors have gone in that direction.
The word Dhampir comes from two Albanian words, “dham” meaning “teeth”, and “pirë” meaning “drink.” Many legends (mostly Slavic) state that even after death, vampires may seek out their widowed wives due to an unusually high sex drive, resulting in a Dhampir. Bulgarians called these half-breeds a “gloglave“, and the Turkish call them “vampirdzii.” They can also go by the names “vuperari” or “vampirovici.” In Albanian folklore, the Dhampir would often seek out their father in order to slay them. Dhampirs slaying their vampiric father is not only found in Albanian folklore, however. Many cultures have tales stating that Dhampirs can sense when vampires are around and many of them often become vampire hunters because of this. Along with their heightened senses, Dhampirs are also believed to inherit supernatural powers, as well as the ability to control animals. Unlike their vampiric fathers, Dhampirs do not have a weakness to sunlight, garlic, mirrors or holy objects.
Dhampirs were known to have an urge to wander, never staying in the same place for very long. This would make people distrust them, but made them perfect vampire hunters. Dhampirs could go town to town irradicating vampires in exchange for money. In some folklore, vampires could turn invisible to humans, and only a Dhampir could sense them.
Dhampirs in Entertainment
When you think of a half-breed, the first name that comes to mind is Blade. Played by Wesley Snipes, Blade is a vampire hunting Dhampir born when his mom was bitten by a vampire while pregnant. The “Daywalker” possesses all of the vampire traits but none of their weaknesses (unless you count the urge for drinking blood and killing humans a weakness), making him the perfect gun-slinging vampire slayer.
Next up is my personal favorite old-school game and my first introduction to human/vampire hybrids, Bloodrayne. Rayne, a Dhampir working for the Brimstone Society, sets out to find her father while simultaneously infiltrating nazi bases and killing vampires along the way. Coincendteally, her father just happens to be a nazi vampire. Rayne uses her inherited vampiric abilities against nazis who are attempting to use magical artifacts to bring Beliar back to life. Rayne uses twin blades given to her by Declan Finney.
Rayne has supernatural abilities such as superhuman strength, speed, agility, and endurance. She also drinks blood to restore her health.
One of my newest obsessions is Vampire Academy, specifically the Dhampir, Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway. Rose stays true to the Dhampir folklore with abilities like regeneration, enhanced senses, superhuman speed, strength, and endurance. She is also known as a powerful guardian, specifically protecting Princess Vasilisa Sabina Rhea “Lissa” Dragomir, who is a moroi.
So, what do you think of these half-breed Dhampirs? Who is your favorite Dhampir from a movie, video game, or book?
Let me know in the comments below!
I would also love to know your ideas on other blog posts I can write about relating to history and video games.
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