El Cipitio

The informant M told me of another story that was incredibly prevalent in her native country of Nicaragua, the legend of El Cipitio. El Cipitio is the Mesoamerican version of the Irish leprechaun; he will try to trick young girls into going back to his cave with him by acting silly. El Cipitio is a bastard born out of wedlock, his mother was the wife of a prominent chief. She was cursed by a shaman to forever be seen by unfaithful men and when alone with the man, she will turn into an ugly figure.

El Cipitio looks like this short peasant wearing all white clothing and a huge hat. In some versions his feet are backwards, leaving many confused when they follow his footsteps because he is going in the opposite direction. Kind of like how his mom opposed the tradition of marriage by pursuing an affair. This legend clearly shows what is right and what is wrong in Nicaraguan society: the bond of marriage is one of the most sacred things one can have, and infidelity can ruin the generations that follow. For el Cipitio, he had been cursed due to his mother’s actions. He did not choose to be El Cipitio, he just is.

When I asked M about what she got from the legend, she remembered kids blaming El Cipitio for pranks that other children did. So she would try not to behave so out of line that she may be mislead either by the other children or by El Cipitio. Personally, I enjoy story of trickster figures in legends because they are there for a specific reason: to parody and mock a certain behavior that is consistent within a society. And also the idea that the rationale for the trickster’s actions is merely based on pranks and comedy is just funny and unique to me.