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Ubir (Chuvash: Вупăр (Vupăr) or Вупкăн (Vupkăn), Tatar: Убыр, Turkish: Ubır) is a mythological or folkloric being in Turkic mythology who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether it is undead person or being.

Ubirs were usually reported as bloated in appearance, and ruddy, dark in colour; these characteristics were often attributed to the recent drinking of blood. The causes of vampiric generation were many and varied in original folklore. In Turkic and Slavic traditions, any corpse that was jumped over by an animal, particularly a dog or a cat, was feared to become one of the undead. Ubirs are reanimated corpses that kill living creatures to absorb life essence from their victims.

Tales of supernatural beings consuming the blood or flesh of the living have been found in nearly every culture around the world for many centuries. Almost every nation has associated blood drinking with some kind of revenant or demon, or in some cases a deity. A story is told about blood drinking in the Epic of Ural-Batyr. Once when the parents were gone hunting, Shulgen was challenging Ural to drink the blood of animal at home, that was left by parents.[1] Ural refused to do it. Then Shulgen drank the blood himself. Parents cursed their son Shulgen and rejected him.

In Slavic culture[edit]

The word has parallels in virtually many Slavic languages: Czech and Slovak upír, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upiór, Ukrainian упир (upyr), Russian упырь (upyr'), Belarusian упыр (upyr), from Old East Slavic упирь (upir'). The exact etymology is unclear. Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are ǫpyrь and ǫpirь.[2] Another, less widespread theory, is that the Slavic languages have borrowed the word from a Turkic term for Ubır or Ubar "witch".[3] Czech linguist Václav Machek proposes Slovak verb "vrepiť sa" (stick to, thrust into), or its hypothetical anagram "vperiť sa" (in Czech, archaic verb "vpeřit" means "to thrust violently") as an etymological background, and thus translates "upír" as "someone who thrusts, bites".[4]

An early use of the Old Russian word is in the anti-pagan treatise "Word of Saint Grigoriy" (Russian Слово святого Григория), dated variously to the 11th–13th centuries, where pagan worship of upyri is reported.[5][6]

Common Slavic belief indicates a stark distinction between soul and body. The soul is not considered to be perishable. The Slavs believed that upon death the soul would go out of the body and wander about its neighbourhood and workplace for 40 days before moving on to an eternal afterlife. Thus pagan Slavs considered it necessary to leave a window or door open in the house for the soul to pass through at its leisure. During this time the soul was believed to have the capability of re-entering the corpse of the deceased. Much like the spirits mentioned earlier, the passing soul could either bless or wreak havoc on its family and neighbours during its 40 days of passing. Upon an individual's death, much stress was placed on proper burial rites to ensure the soul's purity and peace as it separated from the body. The death of an unbaptized child, a violent or an untimely death, or the death of a grievous sinner (such as a sorcerer or murderer) were all grounds for a soul to become unclean after death. A soul could also be made unclean if its body were not given a proper burial. Alternatively, a body not given a proper burial could be susceptible to possession by other unclean souls and spirits. Slavs feared unclean souls because of their potential for taking vengeance.[7]

From these deep beliefs pertaining to death and the soul derives the invention of the Slavic concept of Ubır. A vampire is the manifestation of an unclean spirit possessing a decomposing body. This undead creature needs the blood of the living to sustain its body's existence and is considered to be vengeful and jealous towards the living. Although this concept of vampire exists in slightly different forms throughout Slavic countries and some of their non-Slavic neighbours, it is possible to trace the development of vampire belief to Slavic spiritualism preceding Christianity in Slavic regions.

These applications are similar to the Turkish culture.


  1. ^ Ural Batyr- Variant English, Kuzbekova Archived 2013-10-04 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Russian Etymological Dictionary by Max Vasmer" (in Russian). Retrieved 2006-06-13.
  3. ^ (in Bulgarian)Mladenov, Stefan (1941). Etimologičeski i pravopisen rečnik na bǎlgarskiya knižoven ezik.
  4. ^ MACHEK, V.: Etymologický slovník jazyka českého, 5th edition, NLN, Praha 2010
  5. ^ Рыбаков Б.А. Язычество древних славян / М.: Издательство 'Наука,' 1981 г. (in Russian). Retrieved 2007-02-28.
  6. ^ Зубов, Н.И. (1998). Загадка Периодизации Славянского Язычества В Древнерусских Списках "Слова Св. Григория ... О Том, Како Первое Погани Суще Языци, Кланялися Идолом...". Живая Старина (in Russian). 1 (17): 6–10. Archived from the original on 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
  7. ^ Perkowski, "Vampires of the Slavs," pp. 21–25.


  • Cheung, Theresa: The Element Encyclopedia Of Vampires. Harper Collins Publishers, London 2009, ISBN 9780007312795
  • Maiello, Giuseppe: Vampyrismus v kulturních dějinách Evropy. Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, Praha 2005, 190 s.
  • Türk Söylence Sözlüğü (Turkish Mythological Dictionary), Deniz Karakurt, (OTRS: CC BY-SA 3.0)(in Turkish)
  • Türk Mitolojisi Ansiklopedik Sözlük, Celal Beydili, Yurt Yayınevi (Page - 435) (in Turkish)

External links[edit]