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Chanekeh, Chaneque or Ohuican Chaneque, as they were called by the Aztecs,[1] are legendary creatures in Mexican folklore. They are conceived of as small, sprite-like beings, elemental forces and guardians of nature.

By tradition, these beings would attack intruders, frightening them so that their soul would abandon their body, which the chaneques enclosed in the depth of the land. If the victim did not recover their soul through a specific ritual, he or she would become ill and die soon after.

In some contemporary legends, chaneques are described as children with the face of old men or women, that make people go stray during three or seven days, after which the victims cannot recall anything that happened... although it is thought that they are taken by the chaneques to their home in the Underworld, of which the entrance is a dry kapok tree.

In Catholic beliefs, the chaneque are the souls of the children who died without Christian baptism, and may be from precolonial times, they are a sort of violent child demon who prey on people who wander in the forest or jungles of Mexico, they confuse people to make them lost and prey on them at night, eating them, to get rid of them you have to turn your shirt inside out or yell Juan 3 times to break their spell ^.[2]

Similar mythical beings are common in Mesoamerican and other Latin American folkloric traditions generally, referred to in Spanish as duende. In the folkloric tradition of the Yucatán Peninsula, these elementals are known as aluxob in Yucatec Maya.


Further reading[edit]

Bowles, David (2012). Mexican Bestiary. Donna TX: VAO Publishing. ISBN 978-0615571195.
Tomas Uscanga Constantino, "De Tierra y Agua: Narraciones, mitos y leyendas de Catemaco"