Drekavac, literally “the screamer” or “the screecher”), also called drekalo, krekavac, zdrekavac or zrikavac, is a mythical creature in South Slavic mythology. The name is derived from the verb “drečati” (to shrill).
In South Slavic mythology and folk tales this creature has been variously described:
- In some folk tales it has been depicted in the form of an undead man that came out of the grave during night time and haunt people.
- Also in some folk tales it has been depicted in the form of an undead unbaptised child that rose out from its grave during night time to haunt its parents. Also this creature is known for calling out to people passing near cemeteries to baptise it.
- In Eastern Serbia it has been depicted in the form of a humanoid canine creature that walks on its back legs.
- In the vicinity of Maglaj it has been depicted in the form of ghosts of soldiers that wander around during night time, scaring people.
- In the vicinity of Kozarska Dubica it has been depicted as a vampire-like undead man that rises out of the grave during night time, and wanders around scaring people.
- In the vicinity of Arilje it has been depicted in form of a long-necked long-legged creature with a cat-like head.
- In Sredačka župa it has been depicted in the form of a one-legged humanoid creature with glowing eyes that wanders around during night time and scares people.
- In the vicinity of Prijepolje, Lešak and Dragačevo it has been depicted as an apparition that can be seen in form of a dappled foal, dog, cat, or bird.
- In the vicinity of Gruža it has been depicted in the form of a creature having a dappled, elongated and spindle-thin body with a disproportionately large head. This creature can fly and it is believed to be the soul of a dead child.
- A modern description of a supposed drekavac describes it as a canine creature similar to a dog or some kind of bird.
The drekavac was originally thought to have come from the souls of sinful men, or from children who died unbaptised.
It was popularly believed to be visible only at night, especially during the twelve days of Christmas (called unbaptised days in Serbo-Croatian) and in early spring, when other demons and mythical creatures were believed to be more active. When assuming the form of a child, it predicts someone’s death, while in its animal form, it predicts cattle disease. The drekavac is believed to avoid dogs and bright light. Also, it is believed that if the shadow of drekavac falls upon some person then that person will turn sick and die.
Though the creature is used in precautionary tales for children, there are adults who still believe in its existence. According to the guide of a reporter of Duga magazine, numerous villagers on the mountain of Zlatibor report seeing it, and many inhabitants claim to have heard it.
Some modern sightings happened:
In 1992, it was reported that in the Krvavica, the villagers found remains of an animal unlike any known from the area, and claimed it was a drekavac. It was described as looking like a dog, but with a “snake-like” head and hind legs “similar” to those of a kangaroo. Later, it was revealed to be just a rotten carcass of a fox;
In 2003, in the village of Tometino Polje near Divcibare, a series of attacks on sheep occurred, with some villagers concluding that they had been perpetrated by a drekavac. Other villagers disagreed, seeing as the attacks took place in the daytime, as opposed to night, when the drekavac is supposedly more active.