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The Patasola or "one foot" is one of many myths in South American folklore about female monsters from the jungle, appearing to male hunters or loggers in the middle of the wilderness when they think about women. The Patasola appears in the form of a beautiful and seductive woman, often in the likeness of a loved one, who lures a man away from his companions deep into the jungle. There, the Patasola reveals her true, hideous appearance as a one-legged creature with ferocious vampire-like lust for human flesh and blood, attacking and devouring the flesh or sucking the blood of her victims.
The Patasola derives from vampire legend. According to popular belief, she inhabits mountain ranges, virgin forests, and other heavily wooded or jungle-like areas. At the edges of these places, and primarily at night, she lures male hunters, loggers, miners, millers, and animal herders. She also interferes with their daily activities. She blocks shortcuts through the jungle, disorients hunters, and throws hunting dogs off the scent of their game. The Patasola is usually regarded as protective of nature and the forest animals and unforgiving when humans enter their domains to alter or destroy them.
Additionally, the exact name and attributes of the myth vary according to region. For example, a creature similar to La Patasola is called La Tunda in the Colombian Pacific Coast region. Other mythical creatures similar in description to La Patasola but differing in name are found throughout Latin America (see Variations).
La Patasola’s most notable feature, from which her name derives, is her one leg. She is believed to possess only one leg, which terminates in a cleaved bovine-like hoof and moves in a plantigrade fashion. Despite only possessing one leg, La Patasola can move swiftly through the jungle. In her natural state, La Patasola has a terrifying appearance; she is described as possessing one breast, bulging eyes, catlike fangs, a hooked nose, big lips, and tangled hair.
La Patasola can metamorphose into different shapes and appearances. She commonly takes on the appearance of a beautiful woman to lure men to their death. She then uses her feline-type fangs to suck the blood from her victims. It is also believed that she can transform into other animals, materializing as a large black dog or cow.
According to Javier Ocampo Lopez, when pleased, La Patasola climbs to the top of a tree or mountain and sings the following song:
“I'm more than the siren / I live alone in the world: / and no one can resist me / because I am the Patasola. / On the road, at home, / on the mountain and the river, / in the air and in the clouds / all that exists is mine."
La Patasola’s origin story varies, but usually follows the pattern of a scorned, unfaithful, or otherwise “bad” woman. Some believe that she was a mother who killed her own son, and was then banished to the woods as punishment. Others believe that she was a wicked temptress who was cruel to both men and women, and for this reason they mutilated her with an axe, chopping off one leg and throwing it into a fire. She then died of her injuries and now haunts the forests and mountain ranges. In a third origin story, she was an unfaithful wife who cheated on her husband with the couple’s employer, a patron. Upon discovering her infidelity, the jealous husband murdered both her and the patron. She died but her soul remains in a one-legged body.
The La Tunda myth of the Colombian Pacific region also tells of a vicious woman who sucks the blood of men. However, in this legend, “La Tunda’s shape-shifting abilities are far from perfect…for whatever form she assumes will invariably have a wooden leg in the shape of a molinillo (wooden whisk). The monster, however, is very cunning, and is adept at concealing this defect from would-be victims."
Similar in behavior to La Patasola is “Matlacihua, a phantasm in the beautiful and svelte form of a woman dressed in white. Sometimes called the White Lady or the Bride, she would appear at night and with her seductive songs and irresistible beauty, lure men of bad conduct into the forest, scaring them half to death." Though not described as sucking the blood of her victims, the White Lady supposedly deterred men from seeking amorous relations in the woods, jungles, or mountain ranges.
In Latin American tradition, gruesome myths and legends often serve as cautionary or morality tales.
In particular, folkloric legends such as La Patasola served to reinforce gender norms and sexual behavior. Latin American societies such as Colombia used popular culture to control the sexual behavior of the people, particularly the lower classes. The belief in the need to establish appropriate sexual behavior stems from the idea that a well-ordered society rests on a well-ordered family, specifically a nuclear family headed by a strong male patriarch with an obedient and domestically inclined wife.
It is likely that La Patasola existed as a warning to men to avoid being seduced by beautiful women. A man seeking to have a secret tryst in the woods would be punished in gruesome fashion if they encountered La Patasola.
- Deer Woman
- Mohan (legendary)
- Sihuanaba, a similar figure from Central America
- López, Javier Ocampo (2006). Mitos, Leyendas Y Relatos Colombianos. Colombia: Plaza & Janes Editores. ISBN 9789581403714.
- Hellman, Roxanne; Derek Hall (2012). Vampire Legends and Myths. New York: Rosen Group. pp. 24–25. ISBN 9781448859863.
- Sloan, Kathryn A. (2008). Runaway Daughters: Seduction, Elopement, and Honor in Nineteenth-Century Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780826344779.
- Sloan, Kathryn (2008). Runaway Daughters: Seduction, Elopement, and Honor in Nineteenth-Century Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780826344779.