USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘jealousy’

La Llorona de Guanajuato

Main Piece:

“In Guanajuato there was a beautiful woman who had a husband that was a Count. When her husband left to work, he would always return very late. One day the wife found out that he was cheating on her. She was furious and wanted to punish him. She thought of many ways and one night she thought that when her husband returned one night, he would find his children with slit throats. She carried this idea out and the night came where her husband arrived with the children dead. The husband went crazy at the sight of his children. His screams brought the neighbors to their home, where they took his wife to the police. The wife was sentenced to be burned at the stake in a white dress. Before she was burned, a priest convinced the wife to repent for the sin she had committed. Her regret for her sins was immediate and she howled these words “Mis hijos! Ay mis hijos!” They burned her and she continued to yell this until her death. From that point on, the people of Guanajuato talk about a woman who walks around downtown Guanajuato yelling “Ay mis hijos.” Some have even seen her roam in the white dress she died in.



The informant is a 77-year-old Spanish speaking woman, born in Mexico. Her grandmother told her this story and the informant has passed the tale along to her children and grandchildren. She believes that the tale is a warning in decisions that are made in moments of absolute rage.



I agree with the informant, this crime committed by La Llorona was that of a crime of passion which could have been avoided. The saddest part of the tale is that because of the woman being blinded by rage, the young lives of her children were ended.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech

Evil eye sayings

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. She says that a common thing to say when you see someone  in new clothes, or looking particularly beautiful; or when someone has very good fortune in (for instance) an exam or a job; or, especially, with children and new babies; is

“Nazr-bad-door” or “Chashme-bad-door”







which, word-for-word, means “look-bad-far-away” or “eye-bad-far-away”, but translates to, “May the Bad Gaze/Evil Eye stay far away from you.”

Analysis: The purpose of this little saying is basically to keep away the Evil Eye, which the informant says can be put on someone if they are envied or have something that others covet (eg, good grades or good health). When the Evil Eye is put on you, you may fall sick, fail in your job or school, lose your money, etc. Children are especially susceptible because they are often the center of attention, especially in the informant’s Pakistani family, and so if someone merely looks at a child with selfish or ungracious thought in their mind, the child could fall ill or have an accident, etc. It is thus important to remember to praise God when you see something beautiful and not be jealous or ungrateful, and this phrase is a way to remind oneself of that, and also to express the desire to protect someone from others’ ill gazes as well. The informant said all this as what people “used to believe”, implying that the traditional phrase is kept even though the specific belief may have been altered or abandoned altogether.