Speculated to be a conglomeration of  traditional African and European folklore, the vampire-like creatures of the Caribbean, called soucouyant (or soucriant or sukoyan depending on the island) are often represented as women who can shed their skin by night and fly as a ball of flame to find their victims and drain them of their blood, usually through bites in the arms, legs, or neck. The folkloric descriptions vary widely as to their origins and forms, but as author Giselle Anatol asserts, the figure of the soucouyant “remained persistent in the cultural imagination” through oral traditions, which explains the consistency in the manner of defeating this particular monster.

The consensus in the folklore insists that whatever guise the soucouyant assumes, it must leave its shed skin behind, safely hidden, and don the skin once more before the sun rises or it will be burned away. The best way, therefore, to defeat the soucouyant is to find that defenseless skin and rub it with salt or pepper so that the soucouyant can’t put it back on. Another common defense against the creature is to spread rice grains around the home or village; the soucouyant would be compelled to stop and count each grain and again, would be killed by the rising sun.

See also

The National Library and Informational systems Authority of Trinidad and Tobago contain a collection of folklore, including “The Soucouyant ”, where the soucouyant is represented as an old witch woman who is defeated by the village she preys upon.


Anatol, Giselle Liza. The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2015. Print.

"The Soucouyant." Folk Tales, Fables and Legends. Trinidad and Tobago NALIS, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <>.

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