USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘goat’
Myths
Narrative

El Chupacabra

Title: El Chupacabra

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 20

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): AJ is sitting on a sofa in front of the Trojan Knights house, it is a calm warm Sunday in South Central Los Angeles. It is a group of 10 male students from the University of Southern California sitting on the front porch, sharing stories. All of these men are members of Trojan Knights, and are relaxing after having started cooking homemade friend chicken. All of these men are close to one another, including the interviewer. AJ says he has a good one as he puts his drink down.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee – Ok so this thing ate my goat. Well, he sucked it really.”

Interviewer- “What thing?”

Interviewee – “The Chupacaba. At least I think it was one. It was back when I was in Texas, and my family has this farm you know? And I had to take care of a lot of animals, including our goats. Now heres where it gets good. (Long pause as he looks around at our faces). I went one morning to check on the goats and feed them, and I found it.”

Interviewer– “Found what?”

Interviewee – “My goat that I had lovingly named Joe Tuffhead. He was dead, and I can’t really explain what happened to him. When wolves come to feed, they feed, but Joe was still intact, mostly. This was the weird part, he… he was drained. You know what I mean? He had no blood anymore, it’s like something sucked it right out of him. He was hollow, yeah that’s what it was. I was looking for that word. Hollow. Poor Bob was hollow.”

Interviewer– “I thought his name was Joe?”

Interviewee – “Oh yeah, right, that’s what I meant. Sorry I have a lot of goats I mix up their names.”

Interviewer– “What did you do after you found Joe?”

Interviewee – “Oh my dad and I built another small barn house and had the goats in there every night from then on. No more Chupacabra attacks, no more dead goats. Everything ended well.”

Analyzation: AJ seems to have a hazy memory up until the actual scene of the dead goat, which would make sense. The most traumatic things are usually the ones that stick in our heads the clearest. We did not get to hear the father’s explanation of the situation, and so we get the idea of a young Adrian when he was growing up in Texas. Overall however, AJ is someone to be trusted, but there is also something to be said about the situation, and about how AJ was preforming this piece of folklore in front of 9 of his friends and fellow students, perhaps wanting to impress them. This idea of the Chupacabra however, is recurring within the Hispanic community in the United States and other countries. Often, when livestock die and there is no real reason as to why that has happened, people blame the Chupacabra. And it fits the MO. When animals die for no particular reason, the idea of a monster coming and killing them seems just a likely as anything else. The myth of the Chupacabra has been around for a while, and continually mutates in various ways. From this story, it appears the Chupacabra got tired of eating livestock in southern Mexico, and Mexico entirely, and has moved on to greener pastures in Texas. Of course this is better explained by pointing out that people from Mexico have been migrating every northward, and their myths and stories come with them. It is only logical to hear of the beast in the United States at this point.

Tags: Chupacabra, Goat, Mythical Creature, Farming

Legends
Narrative

The Goat Room

At Williams College in Massachusetts the frat system was dissolved in the 1960s but all the old frathouses still exist and have been converted into dorms.  They are identifiable as frat houses because they still feature the fraternities old symbols on the wall.  One of the most interesting hazing traditions that this frat took part in was at the end of the initiation process the current members of the frat would take all the prospective members into this room.  They would then bring in a goat and tell the prospectives they had one final task to complete before becoming a member.  Any man who sought entry into the house would have to have sexual intercourse with the goat that night.  The brothers would then leave and come back in the morning.  When they returned they would ask the prospective members who had “fucked the goat.”  Some would step forward.  Instead of lauding them for their dedication to the fraternity these men would be chastised in front of the group for their blind following of such a vile order.  They would be asked to leave and not admitted into the fraternity.  Those who had refused to have intercourse with the goat would be lauded for their strong character and offered a spot in the frat.

I went to visit the informant at her college and we participated in a 24 hour theater festival.  We were rehearsing in the goat room and I noted that I recognized the symbol on the wall as a frat symbol.  My friend and the other girl with us then proceeded to tell me the full story.

I think this story is very interesting because it plays with the expectations of fraternity culture.  You expect the brothers to come back and kick out those who refused to follow orders but in fact the opposite is true.  However the act still portrays fraternities in a negative light.  The prospective members underwent a traumatic experience and in the end they were not accepted.  This is perhaps even more traumatizing than following orders that lead to acceptance.  Either way the story prizes individual thinking over a group mentality.  It is also interesting to note that this story exists in a school where fraternities do not.  The story is probably making a commentary on the evils of the fraternity system and how the school is better off without them.

Tales /märchen

Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi

Context: The informant is a grandmother of 8 whose parents were originally from Afghanistan but settled in Pakistan. She also lived in Saudi Arabia for many years and has a working knowledge of Farsi, Arabic, and Punjabi along with her native Urdu. This story is a popular one among her grandchildren; here it is transcribed in English, though it was originally told in Urdu.

“Once in a house near the jungle there lived a goat with her three kids. Their names were Ungus, Bungus, and Tipopi. One day, the mom goat had to go out, maybe to get groceries, but she told her children: lock the doors and don’t let anyone in except me. I will say, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And only when I say that do you let me in. So the kids said, ok Mama, and she walked out and locked the door and she went.

Now in the jungle next to the house there lived a big scary wolf: he had long hair and big eyes and hungry and he saw the mom goat leave, and he heard what she told her babies, and he said to himself, I think I’m going to go eat those delicious goats.

So he went up to the house and he knocked on the door and he said, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And Ungus and Bungus ran to open the door, but Tipopi said to them, wait! This is not out mom! Our mom’s voice is light and sweet, and this voice is heavy and ugly. So Tipopi said to the wolf, You’re not our mother! You’re the wolf that lives in the jungle! Go away and don’t come back!

And the wolf was very mad but he had to leave.

And now when the mother goat came back and she opened the door and her babies rushed to tell her what happened, and she was so relieved that they were all safe.

Then the next day, she had to go out again, but was so worried and scared that she said, now when i come home, I will say to you, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And you ask to see my hand, and i will show you my hand. And only then do you open the door. And her kids said, Ok, Mama. So she went out the door and locked it and went.

Now the wolf had seen the mother go out again, and he wanted to try again to eat the kids; but this time he ate a whole spoonful of honey before he went, to make his voice light and sweet, and went up to the door and said, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And the kids heard a light, sweet voice so they rushed to the door and asked, Mama, show us your hand! And the wolf showed his paw, and it was big and black and hairy and ugly, and Tipopi said, This is not our mother! Our mother’s hand is small and white and pretty. This hand is big and hairy and black! And he said to the wolf, You are not out mother! You are the wolf that lives in the jungle! Go away and don’t come back!

So what could the wolf do? He left.

And again the mother goat came home and the kids rushed to tell her what happened, and again she was so happy they were all safe.

And when she had to go out again the next day, she was very worried and scared so she said, this time when i come home, i will say, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And you will ask me to see my hand, and I will show you my hand. Then you ask me to show you my foot, and I will show you my foot. And only then will you open the door. And the kids said, Ok Mama. So she went out and locked the door and she left.

And the wolf was watching and he saw her leave, this time before he went to their house, he ate a whole spoonful of honey to make his voice sweet and light, and he covered his whole paw in flour to make it look pretty and white, and he went up to the door and said Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And the kids rushed up to the door and asked, Mama, show us your hand! And this time, the wolf showed them only one finger, and his one finger was as big as the Mama goat’s whole hand! And the kids said, Mama, show us your foot! And the wolf showed them his foot, and it was huge, and black, and it had long claws–this long claws! [holding hands about a foot apart] And Tipopi said, this is not out mother! Our mother wears pretty shoes and her feet are small and white. This foot is big and black and hairy. This is the wolf that lives in jungle! Go away, Wolf! Don’t come back!

And the wolf was so angry, and he was so hungry, but what could he do? So he left.

And when the Mama goat got home, her kids rushed to tell her what happened.

And the next day she had to leave again, and she said, now when i come back today, and i say Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! Just do what you did yesterday, and you will be safe.

And the wolf was waiting for her to leave again, and this time he ate a whole spoonful of honey to make his voice sweet and light, and he covered his whole paw in flour to make it look pretty and white, and he covered his feet in flour too, and we put tiny beautiful shoes on his big toes–just one big toe fit into the whole shoe, can you imagine that?

And the wolf went up to the door and said Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, open the door! And the kids rushed up to the door and asked, Mama, show us your hand! And the wolf showed them only one white finger, and the kids said, Mama, show us your foot! And the wolf showed them his one toe covered in flour in the pretty shoe, and the kids rushed to open the door…

And there he was…standing in the doorway…his big big eyes…and his long long hair…and his drool dripping off his teeth…it was the wolf! And the kids ran screaming into the house, and the wolf came chasing after them, and he swallowed up Ungus and Bungus in one gulp. But Tipopi hid inside the milk jug, and wolf looked everywhere, but he couldn’t find him. So he left.

And when the Mom goat came home, she saw the open door…and she went in and she saw the ripped curtains, and the broken tables and chairs…and she started calling, Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, where are you? Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, come out! Ungus, Bungus, Tipopi, your mom is home!

And Tipopi heard her and he peeked out of the milk jug and there was his Mom, and he leapt out and hugged his mom and started crying and he said, Mama the wolf came and ate my brother and sister! And the Mom goat was very sad and very scared and angry, but she said, Tipopi, go get my sewing kit. And Tipopi ran and found his mother’s sewing kit and the Mom said, You stay here, and I will go find the wolf.

And she went out into the jungle and she walked and walked, and then she came to a river, and it was warm and sunny, and there was the wolf, lying against a tree asleep. The mom goat crept up to the wolf and began to cut his belly open, and when she opened it, there was Ungus, and there was Bungus, and they were scared and they started crying, but the Mom goat went, Shh! Shh! [puts finger to her lips and makes a "come on" gesture with one hand] and she got them out of his belly. And then she went down to the river and found two huge stones, one for Ungus and one for Bungus, and she carried them all the way up to the wolf, and she put the stones in his belly, and then she sewed it up, and it was so fine you couldn’t even tell it was there. And then she took her kids home, and then they were safe and together at last.

And when the wolf woke up he felt so thirsty, so went down to the river to drink some water, and he was so heavy the he just tipped [tilts her whole body to the side] over and he fell into the river and drowned.”

Analysis: This story can be examined through multiple facets. It’s a simple fairy-tale, along the lines of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf here could be symbolic of nature/the wild, and how it is dangerous to people living in villages where the border between the wild and the domestic is very thin. It is notable that it is not just any herbivore that is attacked in this story, but goats, domestic animals which are an important source of sustenance and incomes in some of the more rural areas, as they provide milk, meat, and hides. So in that respect the story is a simple study of the dichotomy of village/jungle and civilization/wild, and how it is dangerous, but nevertheless not uncommon, for the two to meet or mix.

It is also notable that, while in the Western version of Little Red Riding Hood it is a little girl who is sent by herself into the wild and disobeys her mother and therefore gets into trouble; in this version it is three siblings of mixed genders who are attacked in their own home while trying to obey their mother. This would seem to squarely place villainhood on the wolf’s shoulders, and none of the blame on the innocent(s); while Little Red Riding Hood is often blamed for what happens to her by pointing out that she shouldn’t have disobeyed her mother. As such the message  in Little Red Riding Hood seems to be, listen to your parents and if you don’t it’s your fault if something bad happens to you. Whereas  the moral  in this story seems to be that bad things happen even when you’re good and smart and listen to your parents, and it’s nobody’s fault but the bad people who hurt others.

It’s also interesting that, in some versions of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl and her grandmother are eventually rescued by a father figure, the woodcutter; but in this story, the kids are rescued by their very brave and clever mother. I think this reflects the fact that in the informant’s family and culture, the bond between mothers and their children are usually very strong, whereas the relationship between father and children depends on each individual family: some fathers are strict and distant, others indulgent and doting. The informant’s own father, she reports, was strict but loving, but her relationship with her mother, and especially the relationships between her younger sisters and her mother, were very very close. Contrast this with the heroicizing of the father figure in Western culture, where any time the child is in trouble, it is the big strong dad that comes to the rescue, and perhaps the mother figure comforts the children afterward (for instance, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, the character of Wolverine).

And finally, the reasons it appeals to so many kids of different generations are pretty obvious: especially when there is a good storyteller, who knows her audience and how to get the reactions from them. The description of the wolf is something the informant says she usually embellishes to get the kids really frightened, and then making gestures to go along with the story (for instance, imitating the mother goat’s small, pretty white hand) is always part of the act of storytelling too.The fact that there is a happy ending for the kids (with whom the children usually identify) and that the wolf gets what he deserves also makes it a popular story in the informant’s repertoire.

Legends
Narrative

Goatman’s Bridge

Additional informant data: My informant was born and raised in Northern Texas, about thirty minutes from Denton.

Contextual data: My informant told me this story when I asked about ghost stories from her hometown. She says she learned it from friends, when she was around 16 years old. She says she would tell this story if she was “telling someone where to go for fun,” and one time she and her friends actually made a trip to the place (though one friend got really scared so they didn’t get out of the car). The following is a description of the legend in her own words:

There’s a bridge in Denton, Texas called Goatman’s Bridge. If you park outside the bridge at night and honk your horn three times a goatman will appear. He’s half-goat half-man. I want to say that he screams, but I don’t remember. There’s the bridge, and then there’s this sort of cul-de-sac area around it, and if you park in that area then he appears in the entrance of the bridge. On an unrelated note, a lot of people have died there–I don’t think in the recent past, but a long time ago–and I don’t know how, but I know it happened. It’s in a really sketchy area.

This type of story is a common one, involving a haunted place and a summoning ritual (often including a 3x repetition of an action). My informant wasn’t sure about the historical background, and neither was I, but a little research showed that legend has it that there was a successful black goat herder who lived near the bridge and was hanged off the side by angry Klansmen. According to my informant, taking a trip to Goatman’s Bridge late at night is a fun and scary adventure, and it’s often a bonding experience, as everyone gets scared together.

Annotation: Seen in YouTube user SilkOlive’s documentary video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIrnzzTmP0s.

general
Myths
Narrative

Myth – Mexico

In Northern Mexico the farmers tell the story of a blood-sucking beast known as the Chupacabra. The farmers claim to have found their goats with all of their blood drained from their bodies. The only bite marks present are two, circular, vampire-fang like holes, usually close to the neck. These bite marks are said to be from the Chupacabra. The beast is said to only strike at night, after sundown.

Ryan, my brother, said he first heard this story when he was in elementary school. He heard the story from his Mexican friends who were told the story by their parents. Ryan said that the story also circulated in the rural southern parts of Arizona close to the border, where the communities were predominantly Mexican.

Ryan believes that parents told these stories to their kids to keep them from staying out late at night. Even though he didn’t know of any variations that said the Chupacabra would attack kids the thought of a blood-sucking animal was scary enough to keep the kids in at night. Ironically baby goats are called kids, and perhaps the Chupacabra would want the blood of any type of kid, goat or human.

This myth has close similarities to a traditional vampire story often found in eastern Europe. In these stories a vampire can never be seen during the daylight and sucks the blood of his victims by biting their necks. Because goat farming is a common practice in Mexico and goats are necessary to make cheeses and milks used in the diet the loss of a goat could be detrimental to a farming family. My brother said that some people believe the Chupacabra is responsible for the disappearance of livestock in rural areas.

Ryan has spend a lot of time in Spanish speaking countries and has heard differing descriptions of the Chupacabra and says that a form of the myth is found throughout Spanish speaking countries in the Americas but he prefers the story he was first told as opposed a different version of the story. The Chupacabra myth is widespread and therefore has many believers and skeptics.

An online search brought up thousands of websites about the creature as well as videos depicting alleged sightings. On one website I also found unofficial Chupacabra merchandise including t-shirts, street signs and mugs. This popular myth has been exploited to make a profit and provoke questions of its existence, including conspiracy theories. Personally, I agree that it was started as an explanation for missing cattle and a means for parents to keep their children from staying out at night.

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