Los Duendes

 Los Duendes

Informant: So my grandma, she used to tell me that when she was little, there used to be belief that these shoe-man, or shoemaker and he had a lot of little helpers and they were like little men, like elves. They were nice to children, but they were mischievous and they were mean to adults and they would destroy and mess up things around the house. When everybody is sleeping, they would go in the houses and they would like make a mess  and  . . .  they wouldn’t like hurt people, but they were just mischievous.

One of my friends told me a story also about a little man but this one was evil. She told it to me when I was little. She claims that she saw a little man sliding on the slide from her closet. The little man was on the top of a sled, and he slid down, and as he was going down he looked evil and he had a knife. A mean face with a knife. So she ran.

She said that at that time, her mom was pregnant and the baby was born dead. So she thinks that it was a sign, like the little man killed the baby. I don’t know, that’s what she told me.

Interviewer: Do a lot of people believe in duendes?

Informant: Yeah, a lot of people believe in like little duendes.

Interviewer’s notes:

I was very surprised to learn that Mexico also has a history of “little men” very similarly to other world cultures. It is interesting to see the dichotomy of the roles between the informants’ own account, and the one she picked up from a friend. In one instance they are seen as the protectors of children (albeit mischievous ones) and in the other they are seen as evil, or as bad omen.