Yara-ma-yha-who: The Fig Tree Living Vampire With No Teeth

Continuing from the blog post about the Bonnacon, the mythological bison with the terrifying ability to project its poo astounding distances, today I want to tell you about the Yara-ma-yha-who.

The Yara-ma-yha-who (that’s a long name so from here on out we’re going to call it the Yara) resembles a small, reddish man with a large head and lives in the trees of Australia. One of the more unusual aspects of this particular creature is that in its large head is a large mouth but no teeth, and it feeds on humans.

“But, how?!” I hear you cry, “The fiend has no teeth!”

Perhaps not, but at the end of its arms and feet is has suckers like a leech. Slurp slurp! Which is why I thought this would be a good monster to try and give some more time in the spotlight; you see vampires in a lot of urban fantasy stories and that’s not surprising because they’re easy to fit into an urban environment. But this ‘vampire’ is a little different.

No fangs (or any teeth whatsoever).

They can’t easily to hide in polite society (even if it’s a costume party a four foot high red demon person will probably get noticed).

Leech-like suckers on the fingers might lead to some interesting clothing restraints or situations arising.

And as with a lot of smaller supernatural creatures its method of attack is to hide and wait for the right moment. I was going to say subtle, but it isn’t really that subtle. The Yama waits in its chosen tree for its victim to walk below it and falls on their head. The aim of this attack is to attach itself to the victim and drain its bloody goodness out until the victim is weak and helpless.

Now is where it gets really strange.

When the victim is in its state of unconsciousness, possibly waving at death with a white handkerchief, the Yama swallows them whole. Down in one. After its lovely feast of blood and with the victim resting softly in its belly the Yama promptly has a nap. When it awakens from its slumber the Yama regurgitates the victim, whole and seemingly unharmed.

But whilst the victim would be unharmed, they would not be unchanged: Any person who is unlucky enough to be swallowed by a Yama and promptly reborn will find themselves a little shorter, and a little more red in the face.

The Yama will feed on previous victims whenever given the chance and each time the victim will appear a little shorter and a little redder until slowly they’re the same size as their persistent attacker. Some of the sources I’ve looked at claim that at that point the victim will grow red hair all over their body like the Yama, although this fur isn’t always mentioned. Presumably teeth will fall out and perhaps fingers will fall off too; but it is certain that you will be at least a few inches shorter and a hunger for blood will tingle at the tips of your fingers. Assuming you still have your fingers.

Here’s some sources if you want to go looking for some more information:

• Reed, Alexander Wyclif (1965). Aboriginal Fables and Legendary Tales. p. 142
• Smith, William Ramsay (1932). Myths & Legends of the Australian Aboriginals. p. 344
• Covey, Jacob (2007). Beasts!: A Pictorial Schedule of Traditional Hidden Creatures. p. 186

Banner image: ‘Banyan Fig Tree Magical Forest Riverbend Park’ from Flikr user Kim Seng

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