Ubır: A Vampire-Like Creature in Turkic Mythology and Folk Beliefs

Ubır: A Vampire-Like Creature in Turkic Mythology and Folk Beliefs


Turkic mythology, deriving its origins from animism, shamanism, Tengrism, and the Ural-Altaic folk belief system, encompasses a diverse array of supernatural creatures, such as Aldacı Han, Alkarısı, and others… Among these creatures, Ubır, notable for its resemblance to the contemporary vampire archetype, stands out as one of the most menacing.

Distinctive Attributes

Alternately recognized as Obur, Hobur, or Vupar, Ubır is characteristically depicted as a ravenous and insatiable creature with vampiric features. It is suggested that the Ubır belief spread across the Eurasian steppes through the migrations of the Kipchak-Cuman people, after having its origins in the regions surrounding the Volga River and the Pontic steppes.

Ubır’s traits exhibit significant regional variance. According to numerous mythological narratives, it is postulated that individuals tainted by sin and practitioners of sorcery undergo a transformation into Ubır by assuming an animalistic form within their graves. This entity is commonly envisaged as having an enlarged cranium and an elongated tail in contrast to the human norm. The creature is also reputed to remain dormant for protracted periods, even months, and is reputedly capable of flight at its discretion.

In addition, Ubır is believed to have the ability to assume any form it chooses, including infiltrating human forms. Thus, it is conjectured that Ubır may adopt the semblance of feral creatures to afflict humans or infiltrate human bodies to partake of their sustenance. Individuals under the sway of Ubır are said to be tormented by ceaseless hunger, unquenched despite intake, resulting in their progressive frailty. According to prevailing beliefs, Ubır, when deprived of sustenance, escalates its aggressiveness, eventually resorting to the consumption of carrion and human blood.

Ubır has intermittently been scrutinized from a metaphysical and supernaturally inclined standpoint. Certain Turkic communities have attributed psychological distress, epidemic outbreaks, and societal tumult to Ubır and its variants. It has been recounted as a malevolent gust, leaving chaos and desolation in its wake, even inducing madness in humans and animals alike.

11 Scariest Creatures in Turkic and Altaic Myths

Methods of Protection

Various rituals and safeguards have been devised to shield the departed from succumbing to Ubır’s influence. For example, in suspected Ubır cases, the grave is exhumed and nails are driven into the coffin. This practice, reminiscent of contemporary vampire narratives, is widely regarded as efficacious.

Back in 2012, a fascinating discovery was made in Bulgaria: an 800-year-old skeleton was found with an iron rod through its chest, leading experts to speculate that it might have been a suspected vampire burial.
Photo: Bin im Garten (Wikimedia) ©️CC BY-SA 3.0

An alternative method involves propitiating Ubır with the sacrifice of a black sheep.

The Similarities Between the Ubır and the Vampire Archetype

Eternal Life and Feeding on Life Essence: One of the central similarities between the Ubır and the vampire archetype lies in their insatiable hunger for sustenance, whether it’s blood, life essence, or energy. Ubır is depicted as a voracious entity that devours not only flesh but also the very life force of its victims, leaving them weakened and drained. Similarly, the vampire is renowned for its need to feed on human blood to prolong its own existence.

Edvard Munch – “Vampire” (1895) 

Shape-shifting and Manipulation: Ubır’s shape-shifting abilities, allowing it to assume various forms including that of animals, resemble the vampire’s capacity for transformation. Vampires are often portrayed as able to take the guise of bats or wolves, enabling them to blend into the night and strike fear into their victims. This shared attribute illustrates a universal fear of the unknown and the primal instinct to be cautious of creatures that can alter their forms at will.

Dread and Vulnerability: Both the Ubır and the vampire evoke a sense of dread and vulnerability. The notion that these entities can infiltrate human lives, deceive the senses, and consume life energy resonates with the human fear of betrayal and exploitation. This fear transcends cultural boundaries, revealing a shared human anxiety about hidden threats lurking beneath the surface.

Cultural Symbolism and Modern Adaptations: Both the Ubır and the vampire archetype have found their place in modern popular culture. While vampires have become iconic figures in literature, films, and television shows, the Ubır’s legacy endures through folklore and local traditions. Modern adaptations of these figures often blend their traditional characteristics with contemporary sensibilities, highlighting their eternal relevance in exploring human nature’s darker aspects.

  • Wikipedia katılımcıları (2023). UbırVikipedi, Özgür Ansiklopedi. Erişim tarihi 20.47, Ağustos 25, 2023
  • Mehmet Berk Yaltırık. Türk Kültüründe Vampirler: Oburlar, Yalmavuzlar ve Diğerleri. Karakum Yayınevi. ISBN: 978-6052290149
  • Deniz Karakurt. Türk Söylence Sözlüğü: Türk Mitolojisi Ansiklopedik Sözlük. 2011
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