Ciguapa

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A Ciguapa (pronounced see-GWAH-pah) is a mythological creature of Dominican folklore. They are commonly described as having human female form with brown or dark blue skin, backward facing feet, and very long manes of smooth, glossy hair that covers their otherwise naked bodies. They supposedly inhabit the high mountains of the Dominican Republic.

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These creatures have nocturnal habits. Also, due to the position of their feet, one can never quite tell from which direction the beings are moving from by looking at their footprints. Some people believe that they bring death, and it is said that one should not look them in the eye,[1] otherwise the person is at risk of being bewitched permanently. Also, the only vocalization made by ciguapas is said to be a kind of whine or chirping.

Ciguapas are considered to be magical beings, beautiful in appearance to some, yet horrendous to others. All sources agree that they are wild creatures. They are compared in many cases to mermaids: beautiful yet cruel, and far from innocent. Deceitful and ready to capture the wayward traveler, they are said that they are so beautiful as to lure men into the forest, even though following footprints is misleading, to make love with them only to kill them afterwards. Even today, one can still find inhabitants who confirm having sighted a ciguapa.

Lore states that the only way to capture a ciguapa is by tracking them at night, during a full moon, with a black and white polydactylic dog (called cinqueño dog).[2]

Though many believe that the myth of the ciguapa is of Taino origin, it has been argued that is probably of more recent concoction, being possibly attributed to African beliefs brought to the island by slaves during the colonial period. More to the point, no known Taino artifacts or lore make reference to any creature even remotely similar to it.[3] Also, the legend may have originated from other myths, as distant as the Guaraní Curupí or the Hindu Churel, which was described by Rudyard Kipling in My Own True Ghost Story as having traits amazingly similar to those of the ciguapa. Nonetheless, the Hindu hypothesis may be far-fetched since there is no way to ascertain how this story got to the Dominican Republic during the nineteenth century, when no cultural exchange whatsoever occurred between these nations.

A Dominican film called "El Mito de la Ciguapa" (The Myth of the Ciguapa) is set to be produced by Xenda Films.

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