Pitt-Rivers reports in his study of Alcalá de la Sierra the belief that village children can be stolen by an outsider, disguised as a beggar or a trader, who is hired by a rich man whose ill child can only be cured with the blood of healthy babies. The practice of blood donation lent credence to the myth.
Gerald Brenan describes the mantequero as a monster in human form who lives in deserted areas and feeds on manteca ("[human] fat"). Upon capture, he shouts in a high pitch and, unless just fed, looks thin. Brenan found the myth alive during his stays in the Alpujarra (Andalusia): In 1927 or 1928, he had sublet his Yegen home to the British writer Dick Strachey, nephew of Lytton Strachey. One day, Strachey was walking on rough terrain where he saw three suspicious men. Fearing of bandoleros, he ran away, but the three Gipsies chased him and drew their knives shouting at him as a mantequero. The first impulse of the Gipsies was to kill the mantequero and use his blood for magical remedies. However the eldest Gipsy, a convict, judged safer to bring Strachey to the mayor. They offered to slit his throat themselves, but the British man claimed in his rudimentary Spanish to be a relative of king George V of England, convincing the mayor that he was not dealing with a monster.
- Manuel Blanco Romasanta (1809-1863) was the first serial killer documented in Spain. He operated in Galicia. With the fat of his victims he made soap for sale. During his trial, he alleged to be cursed with lycanthropy.
- Juan Díaz de Garayo (1821-1881) was a Spanish serial killer operating in Northern Spain. He was nicknamed el Sacamantecas, which became used to scare children into behaving.
- Brenan reports that a family of Gipsies in the Sierra de Gádor was found in 1910. They stole babies to drink their warm blood. A folk healer (curandero) had told them that the blood would cure tuberculosis and keep them indefinitely alive.
- The Peruvian tradition of the pishtaco has many similarities being understood as monsters or foreigners who collect human fat from their victims.
- Urban legends about organ traffic show similar fears in modern contexts.
- Vampires in European folklore draw blood from humans.
- Brenan finds a similarity between the mantequero and the Persian manticore (a man-eating chimera cited by H.J. Tarry, Ctesias' Persica and Aristotle's Natural History).
- Other bogeymen in Hispanic culture are the coco, the Sack Man and the Tío del Saín (Murcia).
In popular culture
- Bernardo Atxaga's Obabakoak includes a chapter on the Sacamantecas, stating that it was believed that baby fat was what made railways so fast.
- The 2009 Spanish short film Sacamantecas was directed by Alejandro Ballesteros and Antonio Curado.
- Al Sur de Granada, pages 190-193, Gerald Brenan, 1997, Fábula - Tusquets Editores. Originally South from Granada, 1957
- Sacamantecas in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española
- The People of the Sierra, J. A. Pitt-Rivers, page 205, 1954, Criterion Books, New York.
- manteca in the DRAE
- "Garayo "The Sacamentecas"". www.salvatierra-agurain.es.
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