Friday, June 10, 2011

Salvadoran Folklore

Friday, 6-10-11

El Cadejo
El Cadejo is represented by a dog of great size and penetrating gaze. There are two cadejos, white and black. White cadejo symbolizes the good and black cadejo symbolizes the evil. Some people say that the black cadejo represents an evil spirit which appears to people who wander late at night, persecuting and hypnotizing its victims with its huge red eyes, similar to burning coals. According to the legend, if black cadejo hypnotizes you, it can steal your soul. On the other hand, white cadejo represents a spirit of light that protects all faithful believers, especially kids, from black cadejo. According to some villagers, black cadejo is usually scared away with the smoke of incense.

La Descarnada
In El Salvador there are a lot of people claiming to have had a chilling experience with a beautiful and sensual woman who appeared in the desolate roads asking for a ride. When the drivers asked where she was headed, she answered a few kilometers from where she is. Then she enters the car and begins to seduce the driver. When the men began to touch and kiss her something dreadful happened: the skin of women dropped from her body and she was converted into a human skeleton. Minutes after, the victims were found in a total state of confusion and only recalled the moments in which the gloomy scene occurred.

El Tabudo
This legend has become very popular among fishermen, residents, and visitors of Coatepeque Lake. One day, a rich man and owner of a beautiful mansion located on the shores of Coatepeque Lake went to take a ride in a canoe. When he was near an island a groundwater flow dragged him and took him to the goddess of freshwater domain. A few months later, the rich man appeared to his servants and gave his mansion to them. They were perplexed because his knees had widened and his lips resembled a marine creature rather than a human being. "Tabas" is a word used in El Salvador with the meaning "knees", so "El Tabudo" means "man of big knees". "El Tabudo" is a kind of marine creature that appears as a humble fisherman to win the confidence of his victims, taking them to the middle of the lake. "El Tabudo" transforms men into big colorful fishes and women into freshwater sirens.

La Sihuanaba
A Salvadoran legend exists about a woman with long and tangled hair covering her face, slim body and long nails, with enormous breasts that hang down almost touching the ground. She appears in the roads, rivers, and ravines especially to single and drunken men wandering late at night. Originally called "Sihuehuet" (beautiful woman), she had a romance with the son of god Tlaloc, the god "Lucero de la Mañana" (Morning Bright Star), and became pregnant, betraying the sun god (Sol). Sihuehuet was a bad mother; she left her son to satisfy her lover. When Tlaloc discovered what was happening he cursed Sihuehuet calling her "Sihuanaba" (ugly woman). From that moment, she would be beautiful at first sight, but when men approach her, she would become a horrifying woman.

According to some villagers, Sihuanaba has been seen at night near rivers washing clothes and always looking for her son "Cipitío", who was granted eternal youth by the god Tlaloc. According to the legend, every wandering man is a potential victim for Sihuanaba. However, she usually pursues conceited men and those who seduce women. Sihuanaba appears to them in areas near water late at night, taking a shower or comb her hair. People say that Sihuanaba shows herself as a young beautiful woman to captivate her victims. But once she has gained his confidence, she transforms herself into an ugly and grotesque woman, making her victims afraid for their lives and making them run while she laughs at them.

El Cipitío
Son of the Sihuanaba, "El Cipitío" is a very popular character among Salvadoran legends. He is a small and big-bellied kid that never grew up. El Cipitío eats bananas and the remaining ashes from wood rural kitchens, using a very large hat that moves with the measure of his walk. He appears at night as a scoffer spirit, making jokes, laughing, and dancing around his victims. According to some villagers, Cipitío throws pebbles to beautiful girls that go alone to wash clothes in the rivers.

Formerly called "Cipit", and now "Cipitío" or "Cipitillo", he was born of the relationship that his mother "Sihuehuet" had with the god "Lucero de la Mañana" (Morning Bright Star), betraying the god "Sol" (Sun). The god "Tlaloc" condemned both the mother and son. The mother was sentenced to be a wandering woman and the son to eternal childhood. Despite being the son of a god Cipit has the appearance of a poor child with a distortion in his feet, huge belly, and with the power to disappear from one place and reappear in another. Although harmless, El Cipitío is very obnoxious. Generally, he makes jokes and laughs at his victims. His name comes from the Nahuatl "Cipit" (Child) the same as "Cipote", a word to refer to the kids in El Salvador.

Someone dressed as Cipitio in Berlin

One of my students dressed as
Cipitio for a school parade

Witch Wagon
Years ago there was a man without faith called "Pedro el Malo". On May 15th, during the "San Isidro Labrador" festival, many people came to the town to have their farm carts blessed. Pedro also took his cart, but had bad intentions, stopping his wagon very close to the door of the church far from the other carts. When the priest asked Pedro to align his cart with the others, Pedro replied "I don't want your blessing. My cart is already blessed by the Devil." He tried to enter the church with his cart, but the oxen resisted. They escaped from the yoke and cart rolled street down with Pedro.

The priest then said: "You will wander forever with your cart". The oxen were saved from the curse, because they refused to enter the church. According to the legend, since the cart was already blessed by the devil, he wanders without oxen pulling it, causing horror with the noise of its wheels. According to some villagers, the cart without oxen wanders through towns where there is neither love nor harmony among its inhabitants, always after the midnight.

La Cuyancuat
This story takes place in the municipality of Izalco, Department of Sonsonate, where a large mythological animal lives, half snake and half pig. Visiting the tourist centre Atecozol in Sonsonate you can find a stone image of this animal. According to the villagers, at night you can hear a far away dark squeal followed by strong turbulence under the land. All that noise comes from this animal. When this happens the villagers are enclosed at early hours in their homes.

The Old Church
At San Dionisio Village, towards the south of Usulután, there is a place called "La Iglesia Vieja" (The Old Church). During the colonial era, this place was called "Ucelucla" that in the indigenous language means "Tigers' Place". The Spanish colonizers founded there a town and built a church. One day, during a Mass, the church completely sank. Some people believe that the church was very near to the sea and the land there was very weak, so the church sank from its own weight. People were very scared so they decided to abandon their homes and moved further north. They founded a new city on the shores of the "Río Chiquito" (Small River), to which they gave the name "Usulután". According to some villagers, every year on Easter, Wednesday, and Saturday, you hear the song of the bells from the old colonial town.

The Pond of Bululu
The Pond of Bululu is located in Sensunapán River between Sonzacate and Sonsonate. A long time ago there was a legend about this pond. Frequently a golden "guacal" (a kind of small, plastic basin) appeared floating on the surface, containing a silver soap and a "paste" with diamonds. According to the legend, if somebody tried to reach the golden "guacal", it plunged in the water and appeared in another location of the pond. But if someone managed to take it, the golden "guacal" plunged into the water with that person forever. Some people say that these objects belong to the Patron of the Department, "La Virgen de Candelaria", who punished the greedy people who tried to steal her golden "guacal".

The Amate Flower
The Amate is a very popular tree in El Salvador. This tree is totally different: its trunk is very thick, its branches resemble claws, and it doesn't have flowers. There's a legend about the Amate. At midnight, a beautiful white flower blooms at the top of the tree and falls. If you catch the flower, you will have everything you want: love, money, and health. But don't think this is a piece of cake. According to the legend, in order to catch the flower, you will have a deadly fight with the Devil, the owner of the flower. If the Devil wins he steals your soul. But if you win and catch the white flower you will have everything you want.

La Llorona
This is one of the most popular legends of El Salvador, about the terrifying cries of a woman for her lost kids. Some people describe "La Llorona" as a floating woman dressed in white. Sometimes this woman starts crying in front of the door or window of a house, this is a bad omen because the family living in that house will have a lot of problems. If you want "La Llorona" away, you have to say a special prayer in your house during nine consecutive nights.

Juana Pancha’s Hill
This is a story about a beautiful woman who stole money and lived in a cave at the top of Conchagua Hill, three kilometers from the town. Her name was "Juana Francisca Callejas", but she was called "Juana Pancha", a witch who disappeared flying from place to place as fast as the wind flows. "Juana Pancha" used to travel to a palace in "Antigua Guatemala". Occasionally she transformed herself as a domestic animal, capable of entering any place and stealing treasures. One night, during her travel to Guatemala, some warlocks caught her and agreed to burn her. In revenge, she put a curse on her cave. If you enter to that cave, you never come back, and the more you try to escape, the more you get lost in the cave. According to a prophesy, the curse will be broken during a Holy Friday if somebody dares to enter to the cave and sleep alone.

The Lady of the Rings
A long time ago, a bizarre woman dressed in white with an indescribable face and sporting numerous rings was kidnapping many kids in San Salvador. One night, a man was working in his house while his wife was in the bedroom. The weather was very hot and their baby was next to a window. Drowsily, the man saw a mysterious hand hanging inside the window with a lot of rings. Once he rubbed his eyes the hand had vanished.

The man fell asleep and when he woke up a mysterious woman was next to his son. Scared, the man took his son to the bedroom with his wife. The next day, before the man went to his job, the lady of the rings was waiting for him in the entrance of his house. He ignored her and took the bus to his job. On the bus, a woman was laughing. The man looked forward and saw the lady of the rings with his son in her arms. Since then, the man became crazy and his son disappeared.

The Pitchers
This is a legend about some buried jugs full of golden and silver coins. Once, one of the jugs was discovered by greedy people who obsessively took care of it and never spent a single coin, and eventually died in misery. According to some villagers, the coins of the pitchers are cursed by the Devil. Whoever steals them steals the body and soul of greedy people. The Devil then buries the pitcher for a new victim.

Our Lady of Santa Ana
A very popular legend tells the story about how the image of Our Lady of Santa Ana is in Santa Ana. According to the legend, a group of natives were moving this image to Honduras. When they reached Santa Ana they were very tired and decided to spend the night under a big tree in a place called "Sihuatehuacán". The next day in the morning, the natives tried to continue the way to Honduras, but the image became so heavy they decided to leave it in that place.

El Mico Brujo
A very popular story in El Salvador is the legend of "El Mico Brujo" (The Witch Monkey). In certain towns of the country this character is related to a pig instead of a monkey. Ancestors used to tell stories about some weird women with a magic "guacal" (a kind of plastic bowl) in which they stored their souls, transforming monkeys or pigs to make mischievous acts, like climbing trees and throwing fruits and stones to the people.

Trying to catch them or kill them is useless. These witches can vanish instantly when they feel they’re in danger. According to some villagers, these witches can transform into big black pigs, grunting, charging, and biting their victims who awaken totally beaten and with empty pockets. The Goblin is a spirit always looking for beautiful young ladies, harassing his victims, making noises, and laughing at night. The Goblin can even curse his victims to be unmarried forever. These Goblins are bizarre, tiny men with pointed ears; they like to dress in very luxurious and colorful clothes. They are also the guardians of big pots full of golden coins and speak a weird language that only they can understand. According to some villagers, the Goblins are suffering spirits who visit those houses where obnoxious kids live.

The Goblin
The Goblin is a spirit always looking for beautiful young ladies, harassing his victims, making noises, and laughing at night. The Goblin can even curse his victims to be unmarried forever. These Goblins are bizarre, tiny men with pointed ears; they like to dress in very luxurious and colorful clothes. They are also the guardians of big pots full of golden coins and speak a weird language that only they can understand. According to some villagers, the Goblins are suffering spirits who visit those houses where obnoxious kids live.


Kelsey said...

Thank you thank you thank you for putting this together!!! I've been wanting to look a lot of this up myself.

Anonymous said...

Lots of legends -- interesting and bizarre! Mom

Anonymous said...

Amazing how every culture has is folklore. Some of these are pretty eerie stuff.