Monster Monday: Shtriga

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Shtriga.

Die Hexe by Henri Fuseli
Die Hexe by Henri Fuseli

In Albanian folklore, the shtriga is a witch, but she shares many of the same characteristics as a vampire. She is said to drink the blood of young children during the night, and that if she is not killed, her victims will eventually die.

According to some legends a shtriga is a woman whose children have died, who becomes evil because of the envy and bitterness she feels. A shtriga is usually depicted as having light eyes and a crooked nose. Her stare makes people uncomfortable, and it is advised not to look directly at her, because she has the evil eye. In many parts of Albania, people still have sayings to ward off the evil eye.

A shtriga can be driven away by garlic. Catholic Albanians may use holy water and a crucifix, while Muslim Albanians may recite certain verses from the Qur’an.

The word Shtriga itself comes from the Latin word strix, which means “owl,” but is also a nocturnal blood-sucking monster in Roman mythology. It shares its origin with strigoi, a  Romanian word for vampire.

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