Dracula Soil 🦇
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"Dracula Soil" was part of the First Edition collection. We're excited to bring it back from the grave! ⚰️
Please Note: This item cannot be shipped to Australia due to import restrictions. Also, this new item has extremely limited availability. If it goes out of stock, please sign up for email notifications and we will let you know as soon as we have more ready.
Above: Front of Specimen Card featuring Vlad Tepes III, Voivode (Warlord) of Wallachia 1448, 1456–1462, and 1476
"He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well."
~ Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
This specimen is a vial of earth from Cetatea Poenari, one of the favorite haunts of Vlad Tepes III, Prince of Wallachia, and member of the house of Drăculești. The soil is contained in a small, glass vial with a cork stopper. The vial is enclosed in a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.
Please Note: The cork stopper is not sealed so do be careful when handling this specimen. In addition, as noted below, the material was gathered at the base of Cetatea Poenari. This is a very old building it is possible you may find small bits of stone or clay mixed in with the soil.
More Information about the Vlad Tepes III and the Dracula Soil Specimen
Vlad III is best known today for two things: impalement and Brahm Stoker’s Dracula. Vlad was born in the early 15th century and would reign as the voivode of Wallachia three times during his life.
Above: "Vlad the Impaler and the Turkish Envoys" by Romanian painter Theodor Aman (1831-1891).
His father, Vlad II, gained the nickname Dracul (Dragon) due to his membership in the Order of the Dragon, a society of western Catholic monarchs. Vlad III’s reign was marked with a solidification of his line against rivals to the throne, and a war against the Ottoman Empire.
Above: Woodcut image from a German pamphlet published in 1499. It depicts Vlad III "the Impaler" dining among the impaled corpses of his victims.
When he had captured a group of Saxons who were loyal to an opponent of his throne, Vlad impaled them all. This is likely where his moniker Țepeș (Impaler) came from.
Above: "The Battle With Torches" by Romanian painter Theodor Aman (1831-1891). It depicts the The Night Attack of Târgovişte, a skirmish fought between forces of Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462.
While his acts of torture are clearly documented, there is contention as to whether Vlad III was truly cruel for his time, or whether he was just one of many equally violent rulers. Folktales about the bloodthirsty voivode of Wallachia were circulated by his enemies, though some scholars believe such tales were exaggerated for political effect.
One myth that has very little real connection to Vlad III is the vampire. His most common modern association, that of being the namesake of the fictitious Count Dracula, may actually be sheer coincidence. Brahm Stoker’s novel Dracula, published in 1897, follows a contemporary vampire’s attempt to move from his ancient home of Transylvania to the modern London metropolis. Early notes on the novel show that Stoker originally intended for his vampire to be named “Count Wampyr” and to have been from Styria, the setting of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire novella Carmilla. It would not be until at least two years after the first written notes on the novel that Stoker would settle on the name Dracula.
Stoker never visited Transylvania himself, and the extent of his research on Vlad III comes from a single book that mentions the voivode in passing. It is quite likely that Stoker had never known of Vlad III’s tendency towards impalement. Rather than being based on a true historical figure, Stoker’s Dracula acts more as a personification of antiquity manifest in the modern world.
As noted above, the earth sealed in this hand-made vial comes from the grounds of Cetatea Poenari, the citadel of Prince Vlad’s ancestors. Perched high on a steep precipice of rock, the fortress was one of Tepes's favorite haunts.
Above: Cetatea Poenari accessible by climbing 1,480 stairs
Cetatea Poenari is not an easy place to reach, something Hans learned first-hand when he went to Romania to collect this specimen.
"When I checked into the hotel, I met a few Romanian tourists. They warned me not to walk the stairs to the fortress at night. I thought they were joking. I had secured permission already, but they said, "No, you misunderstand. There are wolves and bears. Also, many wild dogs roaming out there at night."
After eating supper, I opened my guide book and learned that sure enough, this region has the highest concentration of wolves, bears and feral dogs in all of Europe. However, I could hear a storm brewing (yes, really) and suddenly I was worried the ground would be soaking wet the next day. I only had a few days in Romania and this would ruin my opportunity to collect this specimen. So, I decided to climb the cliff below the castle where nothing could reach me.
In retrospect, I suppose I am lucky to be alive, but I did learn though that while very difficult the fortress is not impossible to reach in this manner... Even when one forgets their headlamp.
The next day I used the stairs, but of course, it was beautiful and everything was dry by the afternoon.
Above: Back of the Specimen Card