Region of origin: Southeastern Alaska, United States
“Otter Men” of Tlingit and Tsimshian tribal folklore, the kooshdakha or kushtaka are shape-shifting water spirits who will often take the form of a man, an otter or something in between. Mercurial creatures, stories depict them as both playful tricksters who will mess with humans but may also save them from drowning or freezing to death, or more malicious figures who lead men into these same fates, luring them in by imitating the cries of an infant. Similarly, some stories involve the human being transformed into a kooshdakha themselves, in some cases to allow them to survive the harsh environment or otherwise as a trick or punishment; either way the process is irreversible, in the former cases the person will live but now as in inhuman spirit, both separated from their community in this life and unable to eventually properly pass on and be reincarnated per Tlingit beliefs.
Originally posted on Tumblr on August 10, 2016
Region of origin: Southern Africa
The first being and a creator entity of several nations of people in southern Africa. He is noted as a trickster god and a shapeshifter, often appearing as a praying mantis or an antelope but taking on numerous forms in various stories. Originally a benevolent god, he maintained a world of peace but as his creations became more disrespectful he introduced more dangers and destruction into the world and eventually abandoned them altogether, fleeing to an unknown location in the heavens.
Originally posted on Tumblr on July 18, 2016
Region of origin: Närke, Sweden
A wind-troll who lived in the plains and mountains around the Närke province, Ysätters-Kajsa was a good-natured but mischievous presence in the lives of nearby villagers. Weather events from building up high snowdrifts or heavy fogs making travel difficult to simply winds blowing off a hat were written off as her making trouble but she was never treated as anything but a playful neighboring spirit. When the winds met and created whirlwinds on the open plains of Närke, it was said Ysätters-Kajsa was out in the middle of them, dancing.
Originally posted on Tumblr on May 5, 2016
Region of origin: Japan
A tsukumogami, the class of yokai who are inanimate objects given life, the chochin-Obake is a paper lantern that after 100 years of existence gains a soul and sentience. As with most yokai, they are harmless pranksters, reveling in spooking humans but not out to inflict any real injury.
Originally posted on Tumblr on April 27, 2016
Region of origin: Wampanoag tribes, northeastern North America
A race of small, magical beings comparable to gnomes said to the live in the area around what is now Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Pukwudgie were forest spirits and proficient hunters, originally friendly with the Wampanoag tribe they shared the region with, but over time the relationship turned contentious and the Pukwudgie became tricksters, often good-natured but, on occasion, turning violent towards their human neighbors.
Originally posted on Tumblr on April 15, 2016
Region of origin: Mesoamerica
A tiny gnome- or goblin-like people in Mayan folklore, described as child-like but with an elderly face and wearing traditional clothing. The Aluxo’ob will live in forests or caves but are also known to “move in” to the area around farms or homes and act as protectors to the land and the families that live there, living in tiny houses or shrines the residents construct for them. An alux can be kind or beneficial but if treated poorly or a person rebukes a request from them, they can turn mischievous or even violent. They are considered analogous to the duende and chaneque from neighboring cultures.
Originally posted on Tumblr on March 11, 2016
Region of origin: Okinawa, Japan
Gnome-like forest spirits from the island of Okinawa, the kijimuna are tricksters but generally get along with humans until humans do something to scare them off, such as damaging the kijimuna’s tree or passing gas while the kijimuna carries them (despite their small stature they will assist people by carrying them piggy-back style over rough terrain). The kijimuna love to fish but hate octopuses.
Originally posted on Tumblr on March 6, 2016