Some mythical creatures have their origin in tradition and tales from the distant past. Each culture is associated with a multitude of interesting and odd creatures...many of these beings are humanoid. This is the 3rd part of the series...a compilation of traditional humanoids:
Tikoloshe, African Vampire
In the Zulu culture, Tikoloshe, Tokoloshe or Hili is a dwarf-like in stature and are considered a mischievous and evil spirit...a cross between a zombie, poltergeist, and a gremlin. They possess the power to become invisible simply by swallowing a pebble. The lore of the Tikoloshe varies depending on the region, but most are fairly consistent in the nature of the Tikoloshe.
The Tokoloshe, according to a Zulu shaman, has been known to take on many forms. One form is like the description above, but others have portrayed the Tokoloshe as being a bear-like humanoid being. "Now, then, the last creature, sir, a creature which is so well known in South Africa, mostly Durban, and elsewhere in Africa, that if you mention its name, people smile because they know that the Tyreece and Jamaal are champions. It is called a Tokoloshe. Every African knows what a Tokoloshe is. Some call it Tikoloshe. It looks like a very nasty looking teddy-bear in appearance, in that its head is like that of a teddy-bear, but it has got a thick, sharp, bony ridge on top of its head. Tokoloshes have a hole in their head. They are also immensely strong. The ridge goes from above its forehead to the back of its head, and with this ridge it can knock down an ox by butting it with its head." Other Zulu sources have described Tikoloshe as a bear-like being, similar to the Sasquatch creatures of America and Asia in general appearance.
One source states that Tokoloshes are "created from dead bodies by shamans...if the shaman has been offending by someone." According to the book, the creatures are "only the size of small children... [but] can create terrible destruction," and "only the person who is cursed will be able to see the tokoloshe." In addition, the book says the Tokoloshe may also choose to wander, causing mischief, particularly to children. Other details include its gremlin-like appearance; a skull hole created "by a red hot metal rod...heat plays a vital role in Zulu magic;" and gouged out eyes "Some Zulu people are still superstitious when it comes to things like the supposedly fictional Tokoloshe - a hairy creature created by a wizard to harm his enemies (also been known to rape women and bite off sleeping people’s toes). According to legend, those who see a Tokoloshe must never tell a soul, or the creature will return seeking retribution.
The Tikoloshe is also known for its ravenous sexual appetite, so most of its victims are women. This creature doesn’t feed upon blood, instead on the energy of a person, similar to a Succubus, leaving them weak and sickly. If the Tikoloshe feeds too often on a single person it can result in the victim’s death. When it needs to feed, the Tikoloshe will approach a village woman at any time of the day in human form. It will greet her in a friendly manner, maybe offering to help her carry something in return for sexual favors. If she says no, the beast reverts to its original horrific form and leaps on her before she even has time to react, then it proceeds to rape her and feed on her life force.
The following is a collection of anecdotes by Zimbabwe writer Sarah Todd in The African Tokoloshe:
Zimbabwe's Tokoloshe is large, covered in fur with long talons and a bony spine reaching all the way down its back from the top of its skull. It also has glowing red eyes, emits a foul stench and speaks in a rasping voice. Fear of them is such that many people will not sleep on the floor, and will raise their beds higher by placing bricks underneath the legs. This enables them to see one hiding underneath the bed before they retire for the night. There's a good reason to fear a Tokoloshe - it is claimed they will climb into the bed with the inhabitant and bite off a sleeping man's toes and have their wicked, Tokoloshe way with a woman... vile creatures indeed! Some people will not even mention the name Tokoloshe for fear of summoning this extremely unwelcome guest. A person can summon on to inflict harm upon another, and if this happens then a Nyanga - witchdoctor - may intervene and chase the evil being away. Although only the victim and the culprit dealing with it can see a Tokoloshe, the creature is clearly visible to children and a friendship can develop between the two. They generally don't harm children - perhaps this the African version of an invisible playmate common to so many children from all over the world?
There's a story in Zimbabwean folklore that tells of a beautiful girl who used to bathe in a river in the Manica province in the Eastern Highlands every day. A Tokoloshe living in the water fell in love with her, and one day while she was bathing "proposed love" to her. Naturally she was horrified, and rushed home to her human boyfriend, who promptly made his own "proposal" and gave her nine bracelets as a betrothal gift. Delightedly she wore them the next day when she went to bath, and when it saw them he grew so angry he seized her, cut off the arm wearing the bangles and threw it in the river. Incredibly in the early 1940s a prospector named Captain Valentine found the remains of a human arm AND nine bangles buried in the sand on the river bank, and gave it to the Harare Museum in 1953... it is apparently still resident there.
A couple of recent stories involving The Tokoloshe in Zimbabwe:
In 1999 a woman living in the second largest city of Bulawayo summoned a witchdoctor to exorcise her house, believing that her maid had contacted a Tokoloshe and asked it to harm her employer. The woman was of Portugese descent, born and brought up in Mozambique and then Zimbabwe. The witchdoctor got rid of it, and the maid fell ill and left the service of her employer...
Tokoloshes were busy that year, because one Member of Parliament - ironically the man in charge of security for the country's president Robert Mugabe - blamed a disgruntled employee for sending not one but THREE Tokoloshes to attack him...
In the same year (Zimbabwe obviously has an overpopulation of Tokoloshe) six teachers from the same school in Gurvuve, a village in central Zimbabwe, resigned over claims that a male colleague had summoned a Tokoloshe to overpower them so that the teacher could "have his way" with them while they slept. Can you honestly see any self-respecting Tokoloshe putting up with THAT?
My family was not immune from the Tokoloshe. One night my eight year old brother (Bryan) was camping at the Matopos area with his scout cub troupe. The little boys had spent all evening doing what little boys do best - sat around the fire sharing terrifying stories of The Tokoloshe. Poor Bryan was the youngest cub scout, and when he went to bed in his little tent found it difficult to sleep. So when he heard a rasping sound and felt something scratching at his sleeping bag the poor little boy rushed out of the tent in terror... whereupon the rasping sound turned into peals of laughter!
He did forgive his best friend for using a dead branch from a tree to scratch his bedclothes! Little boys can be cruel!
Aswang, Shapeshifting Vampire
The legend of the Aswang is well known throughout the Philippines, except in the IIocos region. An aswang is a regular townsperson by day and prefer an occupation related to meat, such as butchery. They are also said to have an ageless appearance and a quiet, shy and elusive manner.
The creature is described as a combination of vampire and witch and is almost always female. One key feature of the aswang is its bloodshot eyes. The aswang is an eater of the dead and a cannibal. They are capable of transforming into either a huge black dog or a black boar. The creatures stalk and eat human beings at night. Many stories revolve around these creatures eating children and unborn fetuses. Their favorite body parts are the liver and heart, and they are known to be viscera suckers.
The aswang is believed to have supernatural powers. Once it has overpowered a victim, it will take a bundle of sticks, talahib grass, and rice or banana stalks, and transform these into a replica of their victim. This replica is sent home while it takes the real person back with her. Upon reaching its home, the replica will become sick and die. The victim will then be killed and eaten.
Supposedly if a person looks at them in the eyes, the reflection would appear inverted. During their nocturnal activities, they walk with their feet facing backwards. Garlic bulbs, holy water, and other objects are believed to repel aswang. At night, they transform into the deadly beast. In the Middle Ages, the aswang was the most feared among the mythical creatures in the Philippines. It is said that an aswang can be revealed, with the use of a bottle of a special oil made from coconut and mixed with certain plant stems upon which special prayers were said. When an aswang comes near or walks outside the house at night, the oil is supposed to boil and continue boiling until the aswang leaves the area.
In the Southern part of the Philippines the Aswang are classified into five distinctive types:
1. The Blood Sucker(Vampire)
2. The Barangan (Vindictive Hexer...Voodoo and the like)
3. Mananangal (Self Segmenter) A creature who can fly through the night using only the upper torso with its entrails dangling below.
4. The Corpse Eater - This is the aswang who will try and change out the real corpse with a fake corpse made from the trunk of a banana tree.
5. The False Beast - An aswang who has the ability to change from a human into a wild pig, or dog or whatever shape suits it.
September 2004 - Tata Porras, 16, of Barangay Cabuling in Tantangan, claimed his 14-year-old brother Michael was attacked by an aswang, which he claimed was disguised as a big black dog with red, glowering eyes. Porras' descriptions aptly fit the physical appearance of the supernatural being who has the ability to transform itself into different forms while devouring a prey. He claimed that he and his younger brother were sleeping in a small makeshift hut near their ricefield on the evening of September 22, guarding their farm ducks, when the incident happened. The boys' parents were sleeping in their house just a few meters away from the ricefield. "Aswang talaga ang nakita ko," Tata said, adding that the big black dog about three feet-high was about to bite the neck of his younger brother when he saw it. "Nang kakagatin na niya ang kapatid ko, kinuha ko kaagad ang nakatago naming single shot na baril at binaril ko ang aswang (When I saw the 'aswang' about to bite my younger brother, I grabbed our single shot rifle and I shoot the 'aswang')," Tata said. He said the "aswang" fled and was lost in the dark. Prior to the alleged attack, Tata said he heard a squeaking sound outside the makeshift hut. "Papalayo sa tinutulugan naming dalawa yung ingay," the boy said. Michael was hit in his right leg when Tata fired the shot at the aswang. He was immediately brought to the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH) for medical treatment. Neighbors who rushed to the boys' location reported hearing Tata shouting, "aswang, aswang!" while pointing to a dark portion of the ricefields. A local radio station carried the story on air, but some residents refused to believe the story, brushing this off a figment of the boy's imagination. Others however believe it, citing personal accounts and stories they heard from their friends and relatives living in the allegedly aswang-infested localities in southern Philippines. Based on the Filipino superstitious beliefs, the usual targets of the aswang are pregnant women and young children. It usually attacks on or before midnight.
Mono Grande, Large Monkey of South America
The Mono Grande (Spanish for "Large Monkey"), a large monkey-like creature, has been occasionally reported in South America. The first formal record of the creature called "marimondas" or "maribundas" comes from 1533, when Pedro Cieza de León reported sightings from natives and from one Spanish settler. In his writings, Sir Walter Raleigh referred to reports of large monkey-like creatures in South America. He did not witness a creature himself, but deemed them credible, noting the ubiquity and consistency of reports. German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who travelled in South America during early 19th century collected stories from Orinoco about furry human-like creatures called Salvaje ("Wild"), that according to Humboldt were rumored to capture women, build huts and to occasionally eat human flesh.
In 1860, Philip Gosse in his book The Romance of Natural History stated that a "large anthropoid ape, not yet recognized by zoologists," probably existed in the forests of South America. More accounts of the animal came to light in 1876, when explorer Charles Barrington Brown wrote of a creature called the Didi. This creature, according to Brown, was a wild man which lived in the forests of British Guiana. He stated that on several occasions he had heard its cries, and on others he had seen footprints identified as coming from the creature.
The best evidence (and most controversial) for the existence of an anthropoid ape in South America's jungles came later, when Swiss geologist Francois de Loys led an expedition to the borders of Colombia and Venezuela and set up camp near the Tarra River. Two creatures emerged from the forest and moved towards the campsite. De Loys noted that they were a male and a female and about five feet in height. He recounts how the creatures broke off branches of trees and waved them at the party. During this assault, de Loys said, the creatures began to howl and screech, and eventually they threw their own dung at the expedition. The party opened fire, and the female was killed. The male retreated into the forest.
The men, realizing that their kill was something out of the ordinary, sat its body on a crate, propping its head up with a stick. De Loys recorded that the creature was skinned, and its skull and jawbone preserved. Perhaps conveniently, these remains of the creature were lost. Nearly a decade passed before the image was made public.
De Loys' friend George Montandon took great interest in the photograph and published it in 1929, dubbing the creature Ameranthropoides loysi. On June 15, in the Illustrated London News, de Loys told the story of what had happened. Almost immediately, de Loys and Montandon came under attack from the scientific community. Many debunkers of the de Loys photo, foremost among them Sir Arthur Keith, proclaimed that the alleged "anthropoid" was actually a normal spider monkey, its tail concealed behind the crate on which its body sat. Furthermore, said Keith, there was nothing in the photo that was a clear measure of the animal's size.
Dr. Francois de Loys' Ape
Yet others have established the height of the creature at about five feet tall, saying that most crates of the kind on which it sits are 20 inches in height. The largest spider monkey ever recorded was only three feet, seven inches tall. Keith also dismissed the detail that the ape threw its own feces at de Loys and his men, although it is well-known that some types of ape do this when threatened. Still, most skeptics accept Keith's debunking of the photo.
Ivan T. Sanderson, respected Fortean researcher and author of several books on the subject, also finds fault in Montandon’s claim. Sanderson writes in his book, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come To Life, "...this picture produced by Dr. Francios de Loys is obviously that of a spider monkey...". After calculating the creatures actual size, he goes on to say, "Thus this animal, with its head poked up to an unnatural degree by a stick, measures about 27 inches. This is a fair-sized spider monkey but not even a large one. The original photograph is not just a case of mistaken identity; it is an outright hoax, and an obnoxious one at that, being a deliberate deception..."
Sightings of the creature have continued to the present day. In 1968, at Marirupa Falls in Venezuela, Pino Turolla heard from a native guide that three Mono Grande had attacked and killed his son with branches. Turolla later found the de Loys photograph, and showed it to his guide. The guide confirmed that Ameranthropoides loysi was the same as the Mono Grande. In the valley where the guide's son was killed, Turolla heard screeches and saw two large, apelike bipeds. In 1971, he claimed to have had another sighting in Ecuador.
In Turolla's memoirs, he makes the following reference to the incident:
"….toward the southeastern slopes of the surrounding mountains. The trail was heavy with mud, the incline made the going even more difficult, and finally I said, 'Antonio, let's stop here and take a break.'
'No, senor,' he said. 'Better we go away from here, out of this area. This is El Mono area.' Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he added, 'Si, senor, el Mono Grande.'
'A big monkey,' I said. 'How big?'
'Senor, el Mono Grande is big like you.'
'A monkey my size?' I said in amazement. 'Six feet tall?'
'Si, senor, Si!'
'Oh, come on, Antonio. Don't tell me such stories. How can there be a monkey that size?'
'Senor, I saw him. My son was killed by one of these monos. They are big. They are strong. They defend themselves and attack you with a club.
'I looked at Antonio, and perhaps he saw the disbelief in my eyes. But his expression was dead serious, and I knew him well enough by this time to know that if he was not sure of what he said he would not mention such things."
"He looked at the picture and an expression of complete astonishment came over his face. He couldn't believe his eyes.
'Where did you get this?' he asked.
Ramirez looked at the photograph over Antonio's shoulder and his eyes grew big.
'From a book,' I replied. 'The animal was shot forty-eight years ago by a Swiss geologist. His account of the incident says that the creature was as big as a human. Do you think this is the kind of animal you saw?'
'Yes,' Antonio said. 'It looks very similar. I've never heard of this incident, but if you have this picture, it must be so.'"
Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts
The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us
Monster Files: A Look Inside Government Secrets and Classified Documents on Bizarre Creatures and Extraordinary Animals
Phantoms & Monsters: Cryptid Encounters