Monday, August 28, 2017

Zombies in a matchbox (Following folktales around the world 40. - Panama)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts under the Following Folktales label, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

Leyendas chiricanas
César Samudio
Imprenta Universitaria, 1994.

This book is a collection of stories from one province of Panama, called Chiriquí. Unlike most of the previous books in the series, this one does is less a volume of folktales, and more a display of various urban legends and folk beliefs, often with names, dates, and places proving that people telling them believed firmly that they really happened. Usual creatures of belief, such as ghosts, witches, fairies, gnomes, and the Devil make appearances, as well as curses and hauntings. Not much information is provided for the stories other than a short introduction, and the illustrations are quite disturbing - and yet, the book was definitely an intriguing read.


Picture from here
I enjoyed the tale of Orik and the Washer Girl, in which a poor girl who went to  the river to do laundry made friends with a fairy/gnome creature named Orik. Orik gave her a gold coin every day, which she used to help her family, but eventually her relatives became worried that the mysterious benefactor would take their child, and used some tricks suggested by an old aunt to chase Orik away.
There were also some classically creepy, horror-like stories, such as the Ghost Bus, which appeared and disappeared on the roads at night, sideswiping other buses (I heard about a ghost street car in New Orelans) - and also Zombies in a matchbox, a series of tales about people who owned a matchbox with seven small zombie creatures in it that fulfilled their every command (including hijacking and airplane), and fed on the blood and tongues of live cows.


I once again met the Crying Woman here in Panama; she is known as the TuliviejaAccording to the legend, she was a young woman fond of dancing and parties, and she left her crying newborn at the side of a water gorge so that she could sneak out to a dance. Her horse stumbled, she fell, died, and turned into the Tulivieja, who goes around every night along waterways, looking for her child. Another classic legend also made an appearance: The tale of The man who danced with Death told of a guy who danced with a beautiful young woman at a party and then walked her home, only to find out the very next day that she had been dead for years - a car-less variation of the infamous Vanishing Hitchhiker. (Anyone reminded of the pilot episode of Supernatural yet?)
The Man with Golden Teeth (aka. the Devil) also made an appearance. This time, he pretended to be a well digger, and made a bet with a widow that if he could dig a well in one night, she would marry him. Noting that he was the Devil, she put her rooster in front of a mirror, and the rooster became so agitated that it crowed well before dawn, breaking the Devil's deadline.

Where to next?
Costa Rica!

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