Most of what is known of Polish vampires is due to the work of Jan L. Perkowski and the northern Poles of Canada- the Kashubs- where the believe in vampires still exists today. Perkowski’s research confirmed and documented developments of Polish vampires.
The common words for vampire in Poland were upior or upier (male) and upierzyca (female). The word vjesci (or Vjeszczi) was also popular; njetop was also use to refer to vampires.
A future vampire was destined to its fate from birth. Infants born with a caul on their heads would become a vjesci. Those born with teeth would become a upier/upierzyca (or a wupji). If an infant is born with a caul, the caul can be removed, dried, ground into a powder, and fed to the child when the child was 7 years old; this process prevented the child from becoming a vampire.
Those who were destined to become vampires typically led normal lives, but they tended to have a hyperactive personality and a red face. The future vampire would also refuse burial rights and the pastoral role of the priest.
The body would be watched very carefully, as it was thought that a future vampire never truly died. It’s body temperature would cool very slowly. The body did not stiffen and it retained its color. In some cases, spots of blood would appear around the face and/or fingernails. After midnight, it awakened and begin to eat its own clothes and flesh. Then it would visit its relatives to suck their blood. After sucking the blood of its relatives, the vampire would go to the local church to ring the bell. Those who heard the bell were destined to become the vampire’s next victims.
In order to prevent a future vampire from rising, several precautions could be taken.
- The sign of the cross was made over its mouth.
- A crucifix or coin was placed in its mouth.
- A block may be placed under the chin to prevent it from reaching the burial clothes.
- The vampire was also blocked by obstacles, such as a net within the coffin causing the vampire to untie the knots before ascending. A bag of sand or poppy seeds may be placed in the coffin, as it was believed the vampire would have to count the grains or seeds before rising.
The vampire could still rise from its grave. In order to prevent the rising, a nail may be driven through its forehead. Decapitating the head and placing the head between the feet.