The asema is a vampiric witch or sorcerer found in the lore of the South American country of Surinam, once a colony called Dutch Guiana. The asema was usually an old man or woman who lived undetected in a community.
Belief in the asema is an import from slaves brought to Surinam from West Africa. It seems likely that the name asema is derived from the Dahomean name asiman. But the compulsion of the asema to count seeds or grains might be due to European influence. The undead vampires in European lore often have such an obsession. But then such an obsessian can be found to attributed to vampires in Asian lore as well.
At night the asema takes off his or her skin and flies through the air as a ball of light, entered houses, and sucks the blood of sleeping people. One way to personally protect oneself against the asema is to consume garlic or cerain other herbs which make one’s blood taste unpleasant to the asema.
A way to prevent an asema from entering a home is to place a sesame seeds or rice grains mixed with the nails of a ground owl before the entrances. Just like the vampire, the asema is compelled to count the seeds or grains but each time it inadvertently picks up an owl’s nail it lets go off all the seeds or grains it had counted and is forced to start over again. If the dawn comes while the asema is so occupied, the sunlight kills him or her.
The ultimate way to kill an asema is to pore salt or pepper on the skin that he or she leaves behind at night. This shrinks the skin, and, when the asema returns to it near dawn, he or she can no longer fit into it.