La Descarnada – L

This is a legend called “La descarnada”. This is legend that is told throughout El Salvador, and is passed on through oral tradition. In the case of L, they told me they grew up hearing this tale, and it was like many legends, meant to scare people, especially kids.

Context: L is a family member, who I asked to elaborate on “la descarnada” a Salvadoran legend.


“La leyenda que hace muchos, muchos años, en un canton all por las montanas de El Salvador, vivía una mujer joven y hermosa. Ella atraía a todo el pueblo, todos los hombres se querían acostar con ella, y tenerla suya. Esta señora, parecía normal, pero en realidad, tenia un secreto. Ella se enamoro con un joven del canton, y con su belleza, estaba mas que segura que el se iba a enamorar, y que se casaría con el. Una noche, un grupo de hombres se toparon con la esta joven, y la atacaron brutalmente. La despedazaron, y la dejaron herida, donde finalmente murió. Desde esa noche, el espíritu de la señora permanece, llena de venganza, y de rabia contra el mundo viviente. Desde entonces, se dice que ‘La Descarnada’ acecha a los desprevenidos que se aventuran en el bosque durante la noche. Algunos dicen que puede aparecer como una sombra oscura, mientras que otros afirman haberla visto como una figura desfigurada y aterradora. Ella busca a los jovenes mas guapos, y los atrae, pero al fin se venga de su injusta muerte, y los mata.”

TRANSLATED “Story: “The legend that many, many years ago, in a canton all in the mountains of El Salvador, lived a young and beautiful woman. She attracted the entire town, all the men wanted to sleep with her, and have her theirs. This lady seemed normal, but in reality, she had a secret. She fell in love with a young man from the canton, and with her beauty, she was more than sure that he was going to fall in love, and that she would marry him. One night, a A group of men came across this young woman, and brutally attacked her. They tore her to pieces, and left her injured, where she finally died. Since that night, the lady’s spirit remains, full of revenge, and rage against the living world. Since then, ‘La Descarnada’ is said to stalk the unsuspecting who venture into the woods at night. Some say she can appear as a dark shadow, while others claim to have seen her as a disfigured and terrifying figure. She seeks out the most handsome young men, and attracts them, but in the end he takes revenge for their unjust death, and kills them.”

Analysis/YOUR interpretation: The story of la descarnada is a fairly copy and paste example of a horror tale. It follows the story of a woman, who was once a beautiful young woman, but once she suffered an unfortunate fate, went on to torment the world. She usually targets handsome men, in order to get revenge for her loss of beauty, and abrupt death. This is a fairly simple story toundestand, and according to L, it is told with the purpose of scaring. Popular among the youth, “la descarnada” is said to lurk at night, and young men are told to be cautious whenever they may go to places that are desolate at night. It seems that there is a pattern between many Salvadoran tales and legends, and a female character. Oftntimes, beauty is used as a lure, only to be completely negated by the authentic form of the entity. This tale could very well be a more modern adaptation of prehispanic, indigenous storytelling. It may be a result of the hybridization that occurred throughout Latin America, and more specifically in El Salvador. L said that this tale is an oral tradition that is passed on generationally, a prime example of oral narrative.