07 July 2009

Vampire fangs

When an image of a vampire is conjured, it most frequently boasts pale skin, long fingernails, and fangs. From that point onward, accounts differ. Sometimes the fangs are in the upper teeth, other times they are only in the lower teeth. Occasionally, the fangs retract so that the vampire can pass as human. Fangs can be large or discreet, "or even the special pricklike needle hidden under the tongue that Suzy McKee Charnas has her vampire in The Vampire Tapestry," regardless, "the convention that arose in" vampire-related "literature was the possession of fangs" (Ramsland 36).

The reason for the development of vampire fangs in literature is twofold. First, it solves the problem of how the vampire extracts the blood from the victim. "To get the blood, the vampire needs a way to pierce through skin and veins or arteries. While it could as easily have been a sharpened fingernail or a weapon," fangs were chosen because they are identified as predatory. The second reason that fangs developed in literature is that such a dental abnormality identifies the individual as a vampire and associates "the vampire with predatory creatures like snakes, rats, and wolves" (36). "Predators were identifiable by their fangs, and victims by two little holes in their neck" (Auerbach 52).

Fiction is not consistent on the existence or type of fangs. Some fictitious vampires have no fangs at all. In Hollywood Gothic, "Dracula has no fangs, long nails, blazing eyes, or other vampire accoutrements" (90). Yet, sometimes fangs are so well developed and integrated into the story that they seem to be inherent to the vampire.

Folkloric accounts of vampires and fangs are nearly as muddled as fictive stories. In Malaysia, "the Hindus told of a vampire called the langsuir. Any woman giving birth who died upon discovering that her child was stillborn was thought to become one of those creatures. The langsuir was not described as having fangs like other vampires, rather it supposedly had a hole in the back of its neck that it used to suck blood" (Konstantions 24). However, in The Vampire in Legend, Lore and Literature, "Professor Devendra P. Varma describes paintings and carvings found in the Indus Valley. The pieces of art, which date back about five thousand years, depict hideous creatures with green faces and fangs. Those beings are believed to be the first vampire gods" (Konstantinos 22).

A vampire's possession of fangs is among the oldest traditions. The widespread notion of fangs may result from the examination of dead bodies by people fearing vampires. If a body was exhumed and examined for vampirism, the investigator may discover that the teeth appeared larger or longer than they had in life. This is due to the recession of the gums after death. As the gum tissue decomposes, it shrinks away from the teeth and exposes more of the tooth. The teeth of a deceased individual may appear to have grown after death.

Is the notion of vampire fangs a development only fiction? It appears that it is not. Few individuals can refute evidence from five thousand of years ago. Clearly, the idea of fangs is entrenched in the legends and imagery of vampires. But does a vampire always have fangs? A predator in fiction is easier to spot than one who chooses to hide in plain sight.

Phir milenge,

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves.
Konstantinos. Vampires: The Occult Truth.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.


  1. wow, my friend is doind a report on the reality of people or creatures like vampires and how they emerged, i will send this link to her, she will love it, it is very interesting

  2. i wondered about that myself. sounds presumtuous to automatically assume that a vampire is going to have fangs.

  3. Thank you for your comments. You may write me if you need any help finding sources for your research.

  4. I have read the article based on the Vampire fangs. I like the post very much as it contain very informative in nature.I know that a vampire's possession of fangs is among the oldest traditions.I want to ask that Is the notion of vampire fangs a development only fiction?I want to know suggestion of others.