; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

SAI LANG: The Legend of Killer, Evil Canines in Vietnam

I received the following information from a Vietnamese reader describing his country's Sai Lang canine legends and the possible historical relevance of the tales. Please excuse the broken English.

"Hi, Lon. I would like to tell you about the Sai Lang species of deadly canines in Vietnam.

Nghe An is known as a land of extinct human beings but it seems that there are many talented people but devils, and epic ghosts are not less. I have never been here, and all the stories I heard are of relatives. They go out to play, and they tell again. Even my grandmother was born there didn't know because he had to go to the North since he was a child.

"Sai Lang", or people in the northern-north central region call Sai for short. Its name is a combination of 2 Chinese words, "Sai" meaning "wood in the forest" and "lang" meaning wolf dog. I don't know what this name is, but they say that it comes from a name in the legend of the species "Sai Kiu" - a freak dog breed that specializes in eating ethnic people, trained to transform into humans and capable of catching imitating the human voice. This species has been operating on the northern border of Vietnam and related provinces of China since the early 10th century. The predator kings had to send many officers, hire hunters, and even send dynasty wizards to destroy this monstrous species. Later, it can also be explained that it is a big wild dog breed, especially ferocious, or attacks people (because there are no wolves in Vietnam) so the people of that time imagined such a strange legend.

Back to Sai Lang, the scenario of its appearance is completely different from Sai Kiu. Sai Lang appeared in the middle of the modern era when advanced technology was slowly dominating the world. The stories surrounding it, whether embroidered or recorded, cannot be denied to have extremely attractive appeal and persuasion. However, in the end, no one has given evidence of their existence.

In 1945, our country fell into the most terrible famine in history. 2 million people starved to death, mostly in the northern provinces. Nghe An is not the center, but it is also heavily affected and many people have been in the same situation. Myself, my grandparents' family, if it wasn't for the landlord having food, to store, I probably wouldn't be here to tell stories to you.

In the old days, raising dogs wasn't popular because people thought that they looked like thieves, but only rich people were afraid of thieves. the main purpose is to watch out for wild animals to catch chickens and ducks. People also say that dogs see the devil's soul, so keep it to drive away ghosts, and avoid accidents, and diseases. But until 1945, people could not eat. The corpses are all over the road, next to the tracks, garbage on the fields. Not to mention families with many children, seeing children starving or losing their mothers, losing their fathers to beg for food but feel pity. So the dogs are starting to get evicted from the house or sold to ease the burden. Many children are starving, more miserable than being slaughtered because of malnutrition in the same extreme. The number of dead people is increasing day by day, so the number of stray dogs is getting more and more numerous ....

At that time, those who died on the side of the road usually left in the same place or gathered in a pile, then waited for people to dig big holes to bury at the same time. Simply because they are mostly people from other provinces who come here for free, no relatives like them. If I don't go anymore, I'll die of hunger. The people here worry about their own family that has suffered, why worry about the strange dead bodies out there? They lost their strength, suffering to provide rest for others is already very humanitarian.

Strangely, after the famine, the phenomenon of disappearing corpses begins to appear. Just after one night, the pile of corpses was thrown to the ground, then wandering around, someone lost legs, someone lost hands. Those who just die on the side of the road also have the same fate. Their bodies are bitten apart, eaten up so many parts. Worse, mass graves were also dug up to hang the corpses. Around those places, there are a lot of dog footprints, both big and small. People are starting to panic. They quickly figured out the cause of the hungry stray dogs. In the past, this region has many stories. Elephants, ponds, and bears caused death. But the dogs, eating human meat story is really horrible and has never had precedent.

And then its climax came. That day was the full moon of January in 1945. The 5-year-old daughter of a blessed family was climbed by a big dog over the roof, jumped into the window, and stole away. The maid looked and heard the noise, turned around, and saw a big black dog like a tiger, eyes bright red like fire, mouth tightened the throat of the baby. When the sister lost her mind, the dog ran out behind the garden, jumped over the fence wall higher than the human head, and died in the night. The family ran out, lit the torch, and searched for it all night but didn't find any remains...

The next day, a night watchman came to the district office to report about the odd thing that happened last night that he was guarding. Specifically, when I was beating the 3rd alarm, I heard a lot of noise outside the rice field. I saw from the forest, the herd of stray dogs compete in the village. In the middle of the night, we screamed people's scary noises and Phi went to look for dead bodies, then stole chickens and pigs from the people to go back to the forest. The soldier was so scared that he didn't dare to leave the guard, sitting there all night.

The attacks are getting more intense. After the end of the hunger strike, the dead bodies are no more, and the dogs attack people even more crazily. They started calling them Sai Lang, meaning fierce as a wolf but not a wolf. They claim that these are the dogs that eat too many human carcasses, then start to get used to the smell and attack the desert village, grabbing children to eat meat. Others are supposed to be the soul of the starving dead entering the dog's corpse to go on a rampage. Nobody dares to stand against them anyway. For they are willing to turn around to kill and savage you if you resist.

According to some old people, Sai Lang has different characteristics than normal dogs. They are usually thin with ribs showing (a symptom of hunger). Their teeth and mouths are longer and sharper to pull meat from dead bodies. Sai Lang's eyes are the easiest to recognize. Dog's eyes usually turn blue when you put the light on it, right? Sai Lang's eyes don't need to project anything, they shine brightly in the night. The blue eyes are normal. They usually only eat flesh and steal chicken and ducks. Yellow amber eyes are the heads. They love to attack and eat alive people, especially children. The last species is the Red Eye Ghost. These are the ones who have become devils, and have a great hatred towards humans. Her eyes are red like fire and her body is a terrifying size. They don't follow the pack, they hunt alone like a tiger. It actively attacks humans, kills, and tears the flesh instead of eating. If they haunt the house, it's not good.

There are so many unbelievable elements in the myth of the Sai Lang species that one thinks it only exists in fantasy. Whether it exists or not, it also represents the horrific and painful picture of the 1945 historical period of our nation." TB

I later came across the following information:

"I'm originally from Vietnam and this is a folklore that was told to me by my late grandparents.

This happened during the Vietnam's Great Famine in 1945. According to government statistics, the famine caused 2 million deaths in northern Vietnam, while international documents estimate the death toll at around 1 million, or approximately 8 percent of the population. Families started to eat their house pets which included dogs. A lot of dogs escaped to the woodland causing the increase in the wild dogs' population. Those dogs also have to deal with hunger and start to scavenge and dig out graves to feed on corpses.

One day, one little girl was snatched and killed by an extremely large dog with black fur and red shining eyes. People started to notice the change in the wild dogs with the attacks growing in numbers. There were three types of wild dogs:

Blue Eyes: The normal one, stick with scavenging.

Yellow eyes: The Alpha of a pack, very aggressive, will attack and kill people if needed.

Red Eyes: The Sai Lang, the name can be translated as "Evil Dog". Sharing traits with the American Dogmen. They are very intelligent, walking on 2 legs occasionally, and extremely aggressive. People believed that they were the house dogs who held a grudge against humans for eating dogs, also they ate way too much human meat and somehow got "evolved" in a bizarre way. Some even believe they have supernatural abilities and if they pick a house or a family to be the target, they will go all the way to harass and attack until the last person of that family is dead.

And that's the folklore/urban legend, I can't say how many percentage of truth is in it but we did have a slang in Vietnamese coming from this folklore, "Ac nhu Sai Lang" which can be translated to "You are such an Evil Dog" to describe an extremely evil person." TT

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WENDIGO MYTHOLOGY - WHAT ARE THEY? | Join Us For LIVE CHAT | Questions & Answers #Wendigo #Cannibal

The wendigo has been misappropriated from its original context in Algonquin folklore. The word "Wendigo" roughly means “The Evil Spirit Who Devours Mankind.” Originally it was depicted as a cannibal ice giant and cautionary tale relevant to the realities of Algonquin life. Euro-American popular culture mutilated it into what may only be described as a "zombie-were-deer."

First, the Algonquin monster has relevance to their traditional way of life. Their culture was reliant on teamwork, so selfishness is a deadly sin to them, and the wendigo is the ultimate embodiment of that.

Secondly, wendigo psychosis is a real mental illness and was historically used as a justification to destroy the Algonquin culture. There are written accounts in the last two centuries of people suffering from this illness being murdered by their peers.

So then, how was the Wendigo tale altered? This goes back over a century to Algernon Blackwood's story "The Wendigo." The story does not depict a Wendigo but seems to get it confused with the Inuit (not Algonquin) creature Ijiraq and possibly the Tariaksuq. In the story, the monster burns away a victim's feet with friction, while in myth the Ijiraq is sometimes described as stripping the flesh off its victim's shins and if it survives then it becomes a faster runner. The Ijiraq is otherwise described as a trickster who kidnaps children or lures hunters by pretending to be caribou. So, it is easy to assume Blackwood read about the Ijiraq and then twisted the details for his own story.

Now Euro-American popular culture takes the name of an Algonquin cannibal ice giant and applies it to a zombie-were-deer; it has been utterly stripped of its original context and symbolism. I doubt there will ever be much push-back against the zombie-wear-deer version since it has been burned into popular culture at this point.

Now, that being stated, I'm going to present several modern-day accounts that some of the witnesses described as the ‘Wendigo.' Then you can determine what the creature in the report is. Is it an original folktale of the cannibal ice giant or something a bit more contemporary?


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Have you had a sighting or encounter?
Contact us by email or call the hotline at 410-241-5974
Thanks. Lon

Contact us by email or call the hotline at 410-241-5974

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