Region of origin: The Orkney Islands
Small folk of the Orkney Islands, the trow share traits of their fae cousins in the British isles as well as Norse creatures like trolls and draugr, albeit much tinier, with stories describing trow from as small as mice to upwards of three feet tall. Like the trolls, the trow abhorred sunlight and lived underground in locations known as knowes or howes, earthen mounds disguising elegantly-decorated halls underground, although the trow were said to be able to come and live on the surface during the week before Christmas. When above ground at night, the trows could turn invisible at will to hide from humans, although some people were born with a gift to see the creatures that they could pass on to others through touch, while other tales told of folk methods that granted people this ability such as washing your face with eggs. Trows were often viewed as good-natured, with a love of dancing and music, the fiddle in particular. Their relationship to humans tended to run neutral to positive, the male-only race even said to marry and conceive children with human women, but they were considered mischievous and mercurial and could turn destructive if their knowes were damaged or otherwise treated discourteously. Similar to other fae creatures Trows also often engaged in taking children and cattle and leaving changeling replacements in their place.
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Region of origin: Spain
Related to goblins and kobolds, the trasgu are domestic spirits found throughout Spain and into northern Portugal. They may take up residence on farms or in homes and chiefly make their presence known by causing mischief such as moving items or making noises in the night but will also perform chores and be generally helpful if kept placated with a share of food and milk. Some are said to have a hole in their left or both hands to prevent them from stealing items from the houses they reside in, similar to the Catalonian pesanta. The trasgu will become attached to its family, following them if they move, so the only way to get rid of one is to assign it impossible tasks and, shamed by its inability to complete it, will leave in disgrace. The Cantabrian trasgu are more wild than their rural cousins, instead living in the woods and wearing clothes made from moss and bark to camouflage themselves as they play pranks on people who enter their forest.
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Region of origin: Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, Japan
A yokai taking on the appearance of a red-colored child’s hand, the akateko hangs from the branches of a honey locust tree like a spider hanging from its web, except… it is a disembodied hand. It doesn’t exhibit harmful or malicious behavior but its primarily function seems to be to startle people by dropping down near them. As with some other yokai like the ashi-magari, it’s thought the akateko may not be a distinct creature but rather a form of or illusion created by another yokai such as a tanuki, or have some relation to a spirit that takes the form of a mysterious young woman waiting at the base of their tree.
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Region of origin: Japan
Yokai spirits who take on the appearance of small one-eyed children, often dressed as little buddhist monks. Like many yokai they are not overly malicious but delight in spooking humans. In some regions of eastern Japan, they are believed to be emissaries of the god of disease and misfortune, traveling from home to home on December 8th and recording the families’ bad deeds to bring back to their lord and determine how bad a person’s luck should be for the following year. Bamboo baskets or holly ivy were sometimes hung outside the home to ward off the hitotsume kozō and prevent them from recording that family’s information in their ledgers.
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Region of origin: Japan
A walking blob of fat and flesh with rudimentary features that most noticeably produces an incredibly foul, rotting odor. The nuppeppō is a solitary creature that will live by itself in ruins of cemeteries and temples, but on rare occasion will venture into human settlements at night to make a bit of harmless mischief, taking delight in spooking people with its appearance or their revulsion at its smell. It’s said eating the flesh of the nuppeppō can have curative properties, such as being a panacea or even granting the person eternal youth or immortality, but in order to do so the person must first be able to catch the surprisingly nimble yokai and then manage to withstand its stench to consume it. Their origins remain unclear, with some suggesting they may be other yokai who botched a transformation and became stuck in this form, while others saying it is some man-made construct built from rotting flesh and given life. Its name is a play on a term for someone wearing too much makeup, in reference to the vagueness of its facial features.
Originally posted on Tumblr on September 13, 2016
Region of origin: The Philippines
A menace to people on back roads and mountain passes, the tikbalang is a generally malevolent or mischievous spirit who may be sighted perched on a tree branch, often smoking a cigar, observing or sometimes said to be guarding the secret pathways to other realms. They will lead travelers down wrong paths or in circles using magic, invisibility or sometimes turning into people known to the traveler, though this last strategy can be given away by their strong, lingering smell of tobacco. Some especially evil ones are said to attack the people they encounter, stomping on them with their hooves or hacking at them with an ax, while on the nicer end of the spectrum some are said to abandon their posts during a full moon to go and party with humans.
Originally posted on Tumblr on July 2, 2016
Region of origin: Korea
Combining elements reminiscent of tsukumogami and leprechauns, the dokkaebi are a category of Korean goblin-folk born from enchanted inanimate objects. Mischievous and playful, they enjoy pranks, drinking and games with good-hearted mortals, but can be a bit more vengeful towards the wicked.
Originally posted on Tumblr on November 14, 2015