Monster Monday: Basty

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 Basty.

Anders Zorn, Sleeping Odalisque (1886)
Anders Zorn, Sleeping Odalisque (1886)

A Basty is an evil spirit in Turkish folklore similar to a nightmare. It rides people’s chests in their sleep and holds them down so they can’t move or breathe. It also causes bad dreams. In addition, it rides horses at night, leaving them exhausted the next day and unable to work.

It is generally regarded as feminine and appears as a beautiful woman dressed in white or yellow, but sometimes it appears as an ugly hag. It can shapeshift as well and often appears as a cat, a dog, a hare, or a horse, and sometimes a bee or a wasp. Regardless of form, it can fly and usually enters a house through the keyhole.

Once inside, it sits on the chest of those sleeping and inflicts horrible nightmares. Those it attacks wake up in a panicked fever, unable to move. It can torture men with dreams of desire, and over time, it will drain away their life. In other versions of the legend, it attacks those with a guilty conscience.

Protections against a basty include placing a knife under a pillow.

As with nightmares, incubi, and succubi, sleep paralysis is a likely source of the legend of the basty.

I mention the basty and other creatures from Turkish folklore in my novel Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin.

 

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