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Kozlak: The Almost Forgotten Vampire of Dalmatia

Kozlak: The Almost Forgotten Vampire of Dalmatia

Hidden deep within the pages of Friedrich S. Krauss's 1908 masterpiece Slavic Folk Research lies a story that is rarely talked about today, but stands apart from the traditional vampire tales we know. The charming coastal city of Split in the heart of Dalmatia is home to a lesser-known nocturnal creature: the Kozlak. This shadowy figure stands out in the annals of the supernatural, not as a mere variation of the vampire, but as a being with unique and enigmatic traits.

The origin of the Kozlak

In the lore from the area of Split, Croatia, and its surroundings, the term "Kozlak" is more widespread than its famous rivals "Vukodlak" and "Vampire". Even more confusing is the belief in the heritability of the Kozlak curse. If the father was a Kozlak, it is believed, the son is destined to follow in the footsteps of these creatures. This genetic predisposition to become a Kozlak lends an eerie realism to the story and paints a world in which the supernatural is intimately intertwined with familial ancestry.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Although the Kozlak share certain characteristics with the vampires we know, it is important to note the relevant differences. While alive, the Kozlaki possess the unique ability to predict the weather and can move faster and more swiftly than normal humans.

In addition, the locals believe that the Kozlaki possess certain kinds of rare books - books that only they can understand. From these books they draw the mystical power to perform miracles. This aura of esoteric knowledge makes the Kozlak a figure both revered and feared. Ordinary people would hesitate to meet anyone they suspect of being a Kozlak, let alone mess with them, which is a testament to the deep-seated respect and fear associated with these beings.

Dealing with a Kozlak

In Dalmatia, where the Franciscan friars are popular and firmly entrenched in the life of the community, it is common for people to seek their advice regarding the Kozlak. When a Kozlak dies, the old women of the village and the family of the deceased take various precautions, expecting the Kozlak's ominous return.

In some areas, it is customary not to sweep the room where the Kozlak died for several days. However, these measures often prove futile. The Vukodlak or Kozlak is known to appear at certain times during the night to disturb the peace of the households and torment the sleeping inhabitants. They have a special fondness for rattling plates and, if there is a cart, pulling it through the yard.

In such frightening situations, the villagers usually turn to the priests they trust, especially the Franciscans, who are known for their written amulets or "zapisi". The ritual to combat the disturbances caused by the Kozlak consists of the priest visiting the Kozlak's grave, summoning the creature and piercing it with a certain thorn (drača, spina). It is believed that this thorn must have grown in a high place, protected from the view of the sea. Only by this precise method, it is believed, can the restless Kozlak be brought to eternal rest.

In conclusion

The Legend of Kozlak adds another layer to vampire folklore, presenting a unique version of the undead in Dalmatia. Thanks to Krauss's painstaking research, we get a glimpse into this haunting tale - a story that serves as a testament to the diverse and complicated world of the supernatural that thrives across different cultures and times.