11 November 2009


Gathered beside the funeral fire, friends of the dead man whisper. Was that noise real, or is imagination playing tricks with their grieving minds? There it is again: an eerie scratching like the talons of a hawk grasping at bare bones. With a vicious growl, the corpse's brother blindly hurls a stone into the dark. Wounded, the darkness shrieks. The obstructed missile thuds to the spongy ground.

As dawn burns the charcoal sky into the ashy grey of morning, the skittish guards examine the dead. Along the ribs of the corpse, a new wound has opened as if by magic. Wailing, the watchers alert their neighbors, who clamor to spew their judgment. In the back of the crowd, a wrinkled woman feebly clutches her arm. She narrows her dark eyes at the brother of the deceased and rubs the swollen strike of his stone weapon. Dread falls heavily upon the crowd, quieting them into a stifled silence. Returning the glare, the distraught relative recalls a threat issued the evening before: On this, the very night of his death, I will feast upon his body.

"Talamaur," he groans. "What power have you gained over my brother?"

"The talamaur was the vampire[-]like creature of the Banks Islands in the South Pacific... described as a soul or tarunga," this creature "went out and ate the soul or life still lingering around the body of the corpse of a recently deceased person" (Melton 664).

"R.H. Codrington, the main source of information on the creature," reported one woman who "bragged that she would visit and eat the corpse" of each dead neighbor on the evening of his death (Melton 665). Individuals such as this woman are regarded as mediums "who possess the ability to speak with the dead" (Codrington 275). Codrington explains that the people of the Banks' Islands believe "in the existence of a power like that of Vampires. A man or woman would obtain this power out of a morbid desire for communion with some ghost, and to gain it would steal and eat a morsel of a corpse. The ghost then of the dead man would join in a close friendship with the person who had eaten, and would" afflict anyone "against whom his ghostly power might be directed" (Codrington 222). "If people in the village felt afflicted" or if they "developed a sense of dread in the presence of one of their neighbors, that neighbor would be suspected of being a talamaur" (Melton 664).

"To be a Talamaur is not a crime, and some even advertise this service in order to make a living. However, being a Talamaur is risky because whenever something unlucky or disastrous occurs in a villagers the Talamaur is generally blamed, fairly or not, which results in the somewhat traditional throng of angry villagers with torches and pitchforks...Those Talamuar who work for the good of their fellow men are in the minority, however, and the darker-natured ones use this otherworldly ability to contact the dead in order to control them and enslave them, using these servant ghosts to do all manner of mischief" (Maberry 275).

Read about another fiend in this region.

Mbae mi lukem yufala,

MELTON, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book.
MABERRY, Jonathan. Vampire Universe
CODRINGTON, Robert Henry. The Melanesians

1 comment:

  1. nice little article there. i've heard the term before but never knew what it meant. thank you.