Drekavac (Cyrillic: дрекавац, Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [drɛkaʋats], literally "the screamer" or "the yeller"), also called drekalo, krekavac, zdrekavac or zrikavac, is a mythical creature in South Slavic mythology. The name is derived from the adjective "drečati" (Cyrillic: дречати) as meaning yelling.
In South Slavic mythology it is described as furry humanoid forest demon bearing long claws on the front limbs.
In later folk tales this creature has been variously described:
- In some folk tales it has been depicted in the form of an undead man that came out of the grave during night time and haunt people.
- Also in some folk tales it has been depicted in the form of an undead unbaptised child that rose out from its grave during night time to haunt its parents. Also this creature is known for calling out to people passing near cemeteries to baptise it.
- In Eastern Serbia it has been depicted in the form of a humanoid canine creature that walks on its back legs.
- In the vicinity of Maglaj it has been depicted in the form of ghosts of soldiers that wander around during night time, scaring people.
- In the vicinity of Kozarska Dubica it has been depicted as a vampire-like undead man that rises out of the grave during night time, and wanders around scaring people.
- In the vicinity of Arilje it has been depicted in form of a long-necked long-legged creature with a cat-like head.
- In Sredačka župa it has been depicted in the form of a one-legged humanoid creature with glowing eyes that wanders around during night time and scares people.
- In the vicinity of Prijepolje, Lešak and Dragačevo it has been depicted as an apparition that can be seen in form of a dappled foal, dog, cat, or bird.
- In the vicinity of Gruža it has been depicted in the form of a creature having a dappled, elongated and spindle-thin body with a disproportionately large head. This creature can fly and it is believed to be the soul of a dead child.
It was popularly believed to be visible only at night, especially during the twelve days of Christmas (called unbaptised days in Serbo-Croatian) and in early spring, when other demons and mythical creatures were believed to be more active. When assuming the form of a child, it predicts someone's death, while in its animal form, it predicts cattle disease. The drekavac is believed to avoid dogs and bright light. Also, it is believed that if the shadow of drekavac falls upon some person then that person will turn sick and die.
Though the creature is used in precautionary tales for children, there are adults who still believe in its existence. According to the guide of a reporter of Duga magazine, numerous villagers on the mountain of Zlatibor report seeing it, and many inhabitants claim to have heard it.
Some modern sightings happened:
- In 1992, it was reported that in the Krvavica, the villagers found remains of an animal unlike any known from the area, and claimed it was a drekavac. It was described as looking like a dog, but with a "snake-like" head and hind legs "similar" to those of a kangaroo. Later, it was revealed to be just a rotten carcass of a fox;
- In 2003, in the village of Tometino Polje near Divcibare, a series of attacks on sheep occurred, with some villagers concluding that they had been perpetrated by a drekavac. Other villagers disagreed, seeing as the attacks took place in the daytime, as opposed to night, when the drekavac is supposedly more active.
Vast majority of "encounters" are audio only - with people walking through the woods during nighttime suddenly hearing frightening screams, usually from above, which sometimes somewhat resemble a very loud cry of a human baby and ascribing them to "drekavac" due to widespreadness of the legend and the use of the story to scare children away from wondering outside at night. However, various types of owls produce just such screams as a defensive measure when they feel threatened, are nocturnal, avoid light, their sizeable eyes may give off a light reflection if a distant light source is available and angles between it, the owl and the spectator are just right and often dwell on trees thus seldom being identified as the prepreitor while also being rare to encounter hampering identification by deduction.
Appearances and references in fiction
- Drekavac is mentioned in a short story by Branko Ćopić, "Brave Mita and drekavac from the pond" (Cyrillic: "Храбри Мита и дрекавац из рита") in which a group of superstitious fishermen stop fishing because they hear mysterious yells in the pond, where they were usually fishing, and start believing that they hear a drekavac, which leads to hunger in the village. The protagonist of the story, a courageous village boy named Mita, investigates this mystery and captures the "drekavac", which turns out to be a great bittern, a bird very rare for the area.
- Drekavac is also mentioned in Ćopić's book Eagles Fly Early.
In video games and roleplaying games
- In the Magic: The Gathering has a card of drekavac from the Dissension set.
- Serbian trading card game "Izvori Magije" has numerous cards of drekavac type creatures, one of them named Drekavac iz vira (meaning "Drekavac from the whirlpool"). This creature is described as: Big-headed and with long thin necks, drekavac often jump out of whirpools to attack people who are returning home from watermills.
- In DmC: Devil May Cry, a demon named Drekavac appears as a recurrent enemy. It is not named as such until your final encounter with it. Rather than claws, it possesses long thin swords.
Similar mythical creatures
- Bukavac – recorded in Srem, a six-legged monster with gnarled horns, slimy skin and long tail, that lives in water (rivers, swamps and creeks) and comes out of it during the night. It is known that it makes loud noises, and it will try to strangle people and animals that it encounters;
- Jaud (pronounced [jaud]) – a vampirised premature baby;
- Myling – from Scandinavian folklore, a phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unbaptized children that had been forced to roam the earth;
- Nav – the soul of dead child that died before its third age;
- Plakavac – recorded in Herzegovina, is a newborn strangled by its mother, which will rise from its grave at night as small vampire-like creature, return to its house and scream around it, but otherwise can't do anyharm;
- Poroniec – a hostile and malicious demon from Slavic mythology. They were believed to come into existence from stillborn fetuses, but also from improperly buried remains of children who had died during infancy.
- Levi, Pavle (2007.) Disintegration in frames: aesthetics and ideology in the Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, page 181, ISBN 978-0-8047-5368-5
- Š. Kulišić; P. Ž. Petrović; N. Pantelić (1970). "Дрекавац". Српски митолошки речник (in Serbo-Croatian). Belgrade: Nolit. p. 110.
- "Gimnastika na poledici". Nezavisna Svetlost #216. 1999. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09.
- Z. Šaponjić (2003-10-20). "I drekavac sumnjiv". Glas Javnosti (in Serbo-Croatian). Retrieved 2006-09-22.
- "Ljudi i vreme".
- Ćopić, Branko. "Hrabri Mita i drekavac iz rita". U svijetu medvjeda i leptirova. Archived from the original on 2007-01-28. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- Ćopić, Branko. "Chapter I". Orlovi rano lete. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- "Dissension Sortable Spoiler". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- "Drekavac iz vira". Izvorimagije.com. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- Š. Kulišić; P. Ž. Petrović; N. Pantelić (1970). "Букавац". Српски митолошки речник (in Serbo-Croatian). Belgrade: Nolit. p. 48.
- Š. Kulišić; P. Ž. Petrović; N. Pantelić (1970). "Јауд". Српски митолошки речник (in Serbo-Croatian). Belgrade: Nolit. p. 157.
- Š. Kulišić; P. Ž. Petrović; N. Pantelić (1970). "Плакавац". Српски митолошки речник (in Serbo-Croatian). Belgrade: Nolit. p. 236.