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  • By Kara Newcastle

Myth Monday: The Foot-Biting Vampire (Armenian Folktale)

Myth Monday: The Foot-Biting Vampire (Armenian Folktale)

Many, many years ago, a vast area of Armenia was unexplored. There were hundreds of hills and valleys in this region, but no human knew exactly how many there were or what they all contained, because anyone who ventured into these valleys but didn’t leave before nightfall would die a horrific death; a vampire called a Dakhanavar haunted this land, and he was so territorial that he would kill any human he discovered there. Not only was he evil and vicious, he was also a little strange … he liked to suck the blood of his victims not from their necks, but instead from their feet.

One day two young men were determined to map the valleys and, ignoring the pleas of their fearful neighbors warning them of Dakhanavar, they struck out for the wilderness. They traveled for miles, keeping count of all the valleys they traveled through, but soon the sun set, and they were no where close to reaching the end. Finding a cave, they placed their packs on the ground and looked at each other worriedly.

“What’ll we do?” one of the explorers asked. “It’s getting too dark to make it back home in time. We’re going to have to stay here.”

Frowning, his friend glanced around them, hoping to find a solution. His eyes falling down to their backpacks and bedrolls, he blinked, then grinned.“I have a great idea!” he said excitedly, stooping down to pull a blanket out of his bag. “You know how Dakhanavar drinks blood from people’s feet?”

“Yeah …?”

“Well, he can’t drink from our feet if we don’t have any.” Sitting down on the ground, the traveler stretched his legs out in front of him, then threw his blanket over them, hiding his feet. “See? If we sleep with your feet under my head and my feet under yours, Dakhanavar won’t be able to drink our blood. It’ll look like we have two heads and no feet.”

His friend looked at him in disbelief. “Really? You think that will work?”

The traveler shrugged. “Got any better ideas?”

Knowing that he didn’t, the young man sighed and sat down, placing his feet up under his friend’s head and pulling the blanket over their bodies. Both men laid down and, overcome with exhaustion from their hike, soon fell asleep.

No sooner did the sun vanish behind the horizon than Dakhanavar emerged from his hiding place in one of the valleys. He set out immediately, his legs moving at monstrous speeds as he raced over hill and dale, sniffing the air, searching for intruders. It wasn’t long before he picked up the scent of two humans in his lands and, baring his fangs in anger and hunger, Dakhanavar raced to the cave where the explorers slept.

Peeking into the cave, Dakhanavar’s supernaturally acute eyes spotted the sleeping lump of a human just inside the opening. Grinning maliciously, Dakhanavar slithered inside, running a pale, flat tongue over his gleaming fangs. Struggling not to giggle, he scuttled down to the man’s legs …

Stunned, Dakhanavar stopped short. He blinked, squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, sure he was seeing things. Blinking, he squinted and inched forward, taking a closer look. His jaw dropped open and he stared in disbelief.


Horrified, Dakhanavar jerked back, hesitated, then leaned in for another look. No, he had been right; this thing in front of him had one long body with two human heads at either end, but it had no feet. Clapping a clawed hand to the top of his own head, Dakhanavar scuttled to the other side, wondering if maybe this … human—two headed human … thing … had even a small foot dangling out at the side, but there was nothing there. Gulping, Dakhanavar circled around the sleeping creature, searching, shaking his head, not believing what he was seeing.

“What is this?” he whispered to himself. “What am I looking at?”

Convinced he was seeing things, Dakhavanar paced around and around the sleeping two headed human, confusion and frustration building inside of him as he struggled to understand what laid before him. He began to doubt what he was seeing, doubt that he was seeing it, doubt that he was even sane, until at last he snapped and screeched, “Well, I have gone the whole 366 valleys of these mountains and have sucked the blood of people without end, but never did I find one with two heads AND NO FEET!”

Overcome with the horror, Dakhavanar spun around and tore out of the cave, racing out of the valleys and vanishing into the night. From that day on, the people of Armenia knew that they possessed 366 valleys, and the Dakhanavar was never seen or heard from again.

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