The ABC’s of Mythological Creatures–‘D’

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The ABC’s of Mythological Creatures–‘D’

Week four of my half-assed attempt to find something to write about on Tuesdays.  I hope we are all learning something about other cultures and their weird crypto creatures, not to mention the depths of my laziness when writing.  There are far more mythological creatures, these are the ones I found interesting and that you probably have never heard of.


The dahu is a legendary creature well known in France, Switzerland and the north of Italy.  Regional variations on its name include dahut or dairi in Jura, darou in Vosges or darhut in Burgundy; also called atamarou in Aubrac and Aveyron, and tamarro in Catalonia and Andorra. The dahu cub is called a dahuot.  In French lore, the dahu has the appearance of a deer or ibex, but with the principal characteristic that its legs on one side of its body are shorter than on the other side.  This enables it to walk upright on the steep slopes of its mountain environment.  It can only walk around the mountain in one direction.  Legend attributes various differing descriptions to the animal, including the laevogyrous dahu (which has shorter legs on the left side, and thus goes around the mountain counter-clockwise) and the dextrogyre dahu (which has shorter legs on the right side, and thus goes around the mountain clockwise).  These seldom interbreed according to French lore.  However, when interbred, it is believed that there are two more types of dahu.  These two variations have never been seen, but are believed to exist.  These variations have the leg pairs across the diagonals. This means that the dahu can have a long front right and back left leg, or a long front left leg and back right leg.  It is also said that male Dahus have legs shorter on the right side and that females have shorter legs on the left side, thus making them walk in opposite directions around the mountains enabling to find each other and mate.  Also, the male dahu has testicles that drag down onto the ground leaving a scent trail for members of the opposite sex to trace.  Males also use the scent trails to find their next molestation victim, for dahus are known for harassing each other to assert dominance.

De Loys' Ape

François de Loys, a Swiss oil geologist, led an expedition from 1917 to 1920 to search for petroleum in an area along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, primarily near Lake Maracaibo.  The expedition was unsuccessful, and furthermore suffered greatly due to disease and skirmishes with natives; of the 20 members of de Loys' group, only four survived.

According to de Loys' later report, in 1920, while camped near the Tarra River, two large creatures approached the group.  Initially, de Loys thought they were bears, but then noted that they were monkey-like, holding onto shrubs and branches.  The creatures – one male, one female – seemed angry, said de Loys, howling and gesturing, then defecating into their hands and flinging feces at the expedition.  Fearing for their safety, the expedition shot and killed the female; the male then fled.  De Loys and his companions recognized that they had encountered something unusual.  The animal resembled a spider monkey, but was much larger: 1.57 m tall (compared to the largest spider monkeys, which are just over a meter tall).  De Loys counted 32 teeth (most New World monkeys have 36 teeth), and noted that the creature had no tail.

They posed the creature by seating it on a crate and propping a stick under its chin.  After taking a single photograph, de Loys reported, they skinned the creature, intending to keep its hide and skull.  Both items were later abandoned by the troubled expedition.  According to other reports, more photographs were taken but were lost either in a flood or during the capsizing of the scientists' boat.  The only evidence for the animal besides de Loys' testimony is that one photograph.  It was promoted by George Montandon as a previously unknown species, but is now usually considered a misidentification of a spider monkey species or a hoax.

Deer Woman

Deer Woman, sometimes known as Deer Lady, is a shape-shifting woman in Native American mythology, in and around Oklahoma, The Western United States and The Pacific Northwest.  She allegedly appears at various times as an old woman, or a young beautiful maiden, or a deer.  Some descriptions assign her a human female upper body and the lower body of a white-tailed deer.

The Deer Woman is said to sometimes be seen as a beautiful woman just off the trail or behind a bush, calling to men to come over.  Deer Woman is often said to have all the features of a normal young woman, except her feet which are shaped like deer hooves and her brown deer's eyes.  Men who are lured into her presence often notice too late that she is not a natural woman and are then stomped to death.  Other stories and traditions describe the sighting of Deer Woman to be a sign of personal transformation or a warning.  Deer Woman is also said to be fond of dancing and will sometimes join a communal dance unnoticed leaving only when the drum beating ceases.

According to Ojibwe tradition, she can be banished through the use of tobacco and chant others say that you can break her spell by looking at her feet, which are in fact hooves.  Once she is recognized for what she is, she runs away.  The Deer Woman is similar in nature to several other female figures of folklore from other regions such as La Llorona from Mexico and the Southwestern United States, the Fiura of Chile, the Colombian creatures the Patasola and "the Tunda and the Iara of Brazil, the Xana from Asturias (Spain), and Naag Kanyas (serpent women) from India.  All are females who at times, function as sirens leading men to their death.  In Scottish folklore the Baobhan sith is a female vampire said to have goats legs who seduces travelers and feasts on their blood.

Devil Monkey

The Devil Monkey is a cryptozoological giant monkey reported on June 26, 1997 in Dunkinsville, Ohio.  It was reportedly around 5 ft (~1.5 m) tall and had long, pointed ears.  It appeared to be grey, had large, dark eyes, long arms, a short tail, and had hair all over its body about 1.5 in (~4 cm) long, and is reportedly very aggressive.  On January 12, 2006, a similar creature was reported in Chicago, Illinois, about the size and shape of a dog; another such creature was reported in Roanoke, Virginia in the 1990s.  It apparently walked on its legs while using its knuckles one at a time; they have also been reported to sometimes walk using saltation (to hop or leap), have flat, rounded feet, and are sometimes reportedly mistaken for kangaroos or wallabies, and often reported to resemble werewolves or baboons.  They have been reported from as far as Louisiana, New Brunswick, and Alaska, and have been included in Choctaw folklore.  They have also been reported in the American Midwest.


The dingonek is a scaly, scorpion-tailed, saber-toothed cryptid allegedly seen in the African Congolese jungles (primarily those of the Democratic Republic), and yet another in a long line of West African cryptids—such as the Chipekwe, the Jago-nini and the Emela-ntouka.  At the Brakfontein ridge, Western Cape in South Africa is a cave painting of an unknown creature that fits the description of the dingonek, right down to its walrus-like tusks.

Said to dwell in the rivers and lakes of western Africa, the Dingonek has been described as being grey or red, 3 to 6 meters (9-18 feet) in length, with a squarish head, sometimes a long horn, saber-like canines—which has resulted in its nickname the "Jungle Walrus"—and a tail complete with a bony, dart-like appendage, which is reputed to be able to secrete a deadly poison.  This creature is also said to be covered head-to-toe in a scaly, mottled epidermis, which has been likened to the prehistoric-looking Asian anteater known as the pangolin.  The description by John Alfred Jordan, an explorer who said that he actually shot at this unidentified monster in the River Maggori in Kenya in 1907, claimed this scale-covered creature was as big as 18 feet long and had reptilian claws, a spotted back, long tail, and a big head out of which grew large, curved, walrus-like tusks.  A shot with a .303 only served to anger it.


In Philippine mythology, a diwata, based on Sanskrit devata and also known as encantada from Spanish, is a dryad and are benevolent or neutral and invoked ritually for positive crop growth, health, and fortune; they may also incur illness or misfortune if not given proper respect.  They are said to reside in large trees, such as acacia and balete and are the guardian spirits of nature, casting blessings or curses upon those who bring benefits or harm to the forests and mountains.  They have their origin in the Devata beings included in Hinduism and Buddhism.  The Laguna Copperplate dated 900 AD also makes mention of a Chief of Medang in Java, Indonesia referred as representative of the Chief of Diwata in Butuan, Mindanao island.

The term "diwata" has taken on various levels of meaning since its concept's assimilation into the mythology of the pre-colonial Filipinos.  It is sometimes loosely used to refer to a generic type of beings much like "elf" or "fairy," or very specific ones as mentioned above.  It has been noted that the term "diwata" is synonymous to "anito," and that the usage of the word "diwata" is more prevalent in the Southern Philippines, while "anito" takes its place in the Northern areas.


Jinn or djinn are supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology as well as pre-Islamic Arabian mythology.  They are mentioned frequently in the Quran (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans.  The Quran says that the jinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire", but are also physical in nature, being able to interfere physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon.  The jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God.  Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans and unlike angels.  The shaytan jinn are the analogue of demons in Christian tradition, but the jinn are not angels and the Quran draws a clear distinction between the two creations.  The Quran states in surat Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 50, that Iblis (Azazel) is one of the jinn.

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, meaning a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth.  English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled "genyes".  The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning.  This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.  In Arabic, the word jinn is in the collective number, translated in English as plural (e.g., "several genies"); jinnī is in the singulative number, used to refer to one individual, which is translated by the singular in English (e.g., "one genie").  Therefore, the word jinn in English writing is treated as a plural.


The Dobhar-chú is a creature of Irish folklore and a cryptid.  Dobhar-chú is roughly translated into "water hound."  It resembles both a dog and an otter though sometimes is described as a half dog, half fish.  It lives in water and has fur with protective properties.

Many sightings have been documented down through the years.  Most recently in 2003 Irish Artist Sean Corcoran and his wife claim to have witnessed a Dobhar-Chú on Omey Island in Connemara, County Galway.  In his description the large dark creature made a haunting screech, could swim fast and had orange flipper like feet.

A headstone, found in Conwall cemetery in Glenade, Co. Leitrim depicts the Dobhar-chú and is related to a tale of an attack on a local woman by the creature.  The stone is claimed to be the headstone of a grave of a woman killed by the Dobhar-chú in the 17th century.  Her name was supposedly Gráinne.  Her husband supposedly heard her scream as she was washing clothes down at Glenade lough, Co. Leitrim and came to her aid.  When he got there she was already dead, with the Dobhar-chú upon her bloody and mutilated body.  The man killed the Dobhar-chú, stabbing it in the heart.  As it died, it made a whistling noise, and its mate arose from the lough.  Its mate chased the man but, after a long and bloody battle, he killed it as well.


Dokkaebi, sometimes known as Duduri is a common word for a type of spirit in Korean folklore or fairy tales.  They are old things transformed at night. 

The Dokkaebi is a mythical being that appears in many old Korean folktales.  Although usually frightening, it could also represent a humorous, grotesque-looking sprite or goblin.  These creatures loved mischief and playing mean tricks on bad people and they rewarded good people with wealth and blessings.  They are different from Gwisin in that they are not formed by the death of a human being, but rather by the transformation of an inanimate object.

Different versions of the Korean Dokkaebi mythology assign different attributes to them.  In some cases they are considered harmless but nevertheless mischievous, usually playing pranks on people or challenging wayward travellers to a ssireum (Korean wrestling) match for the right to pass.  Most Dokkaebi carry a kind of club or mallet called a dokkaebi bangmang'i.  They are like magic wands, from which it can summon anything it wants.  Unfortunately, when it gets something by using it, it gets things by "stealing" from someone else, because this bangmang'i can only summon existing things, and it does not create objects out of thin air.

Dokkaebi love to play games, especially ssireum as mentioned above.  They are extremely good at it and one will never be able to beat them by trying to push them from the left side.  However, they are very weak on the right side.  In other stories one should hook their leg and push them to win, as they have only one leg.  Dokkaebi can also have a cap which is called dokkaebi gamtu.  Its most well-known ability is that it gives the wearer invisibility.


A domovoi or domovoy (Russian: literally, "[he] from the house") is a house spirit in Slavic folklore.  The plural form in Russian can be transliterated domoviye or domovye (with accent on the vowel after the v).

Domovye are masculine, typically small, bearded, and sometimes covered in hair all over.  According to some traditions, domovye take on the appearance of current or former owners of the house and have a grey beard, sometimes with tails or little horns.  There are tales of neighbors seeing the master of the house out in the yard while in fact the real master is asleep in bed.  It has also been said that domovye can take on the appearance of cats or dogs, but reports of this are fewer than of that mentioned before.  Other stories either give them completely monstrous appearance, or none at all.  The actions performed by a domovoi vaguely resemble (but are not limited to) those of poltergeists and are not necessarily harmful.

In the course of the 20th century, there have been notable reported sightings of domovye in Russia, many of which were purportedly "caught on tape".  It is believed that saying the word "master" in front of a domovoy who shows itself to the person is a sign of praise to the creature and a proper way to address it, even for the family head.  The Russian word barabashka (Russian: "knocker, pounder") is a pejorative term sometimes used to describe domovye, although in this case its connotation purely corresponds to poltergeist activity.

Dover Demon

The Dover Demon is a small humanoid reported from Dover, Massachusetts.  It was the subject of an intensive scare during the 1970s, when multiple witnesses came forward with their sightings.  The Dover demon is described as looking sort of like the "gray" variety of alien, except that it has skin of a rosy orange instead of sickly gray.  The Dover demon has a large head on a small, stick-like body.  It can be bipedal, but it often travels on all fours or switches back and forth between the two modes of locomotion.  It has eyes that glow, sometimes orange, sometimes green.

Seventeen year old William Bartlett claimed that while driving on April 21, 1977 he saw a large-eyed creature "with tendril-like fingers" and glowing eyes on top of a broken stone wall on Farm Street in Dover, Massachusetts.  Fifteen year old John Baxter reported seeing a similar creature in heavily wooded area on Miller Hill Road the same evening.  Another 15 year old, Abby Brabham, claimed to have seen the creature the following night sitting upright on Springdale Avenue.  The teenagers all drew sketches of the alleged creature.  Bartlett wrote on his sketch, "I, Bill Bartlett, swear on a stack of Bibles that I saw this creature."  When plotted on a map, the locations of the sightings formed a line two miles in length.

Some suggested that the creature may have been a foal or a moose calf.  Police told the Associated Press that creatures reported by the teenagers "were probably nothing more than a school vacation hoax."  The Dover Demon went on to gain worldwide attention, and drew comparison to stories such as that of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.  It has been written about by Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman.

dragon turtle

A dragon turtle is a legendary Chinese creature that combines two of the four celestial animals of Chinese mythology: the body of a turtle with a dragonlike head.  It is promoted as a positive ornament in Feng Shui, symbolizing courage, determination, fertility, longevity, power, success, and support.  Decorative carvings or statuettes of the creature are traditionally placed facing the window.

Mapmakers sometimes drew dragon turtles along with other fantastical creatures in unexplored areas.


Drekavac (literally "the screamer"), also called drek and drekalo is a mythical creature in south Slavic mythology.  Drekavac comes from the souls of children who have died unbaptized.

The creature is not consistently described.  One description is that its body is dappled, elongated and thin as a spindle, with disproportionately large head; yet another is that it is some kind of bird; a modern find of supposed drekavac body looked like a dog or a fox, but with hind legs similar to those of kangaroo.  It may also appear in the form of a child and call for people passing near the cemetery to baptize it.  The one feature everyone agrees about is its horrifying yell.

Drekavac could be seen at night, especially during the twelve days of Christmas (called unbaptized days in Serbo-Croatian) and in early spring, in time where other demons appear most often.  In the form of the child it predicts someone's death, but in the form of the animal, it predicts cattle disease.  Drekavac rarely bothers its parents, as it is afraid of dogs.

Drekavac is often used as a child scare, in a similar way a banshee is in the West.  It is probably more useful than banshees in rural areas, as children surely sometimes hear a sound of some animal and attribute it to drekavac, thus convinced it really exists; which would then probably prevent them from wandering far from home.  In the cities, however, belief in it has faded, and Baba Roga, which more closely resembles western bogeyman, is much more used.

drop bear

A dropbear or drop bear is a fictitious Australian marsupial.  Drop bears are commonly said to be unusually large, vicious, carnivorous marsupials related to koalas (although the koala is not actually a bear) that inhabit treetops and attack their prey by dropping onto their heads from above.  They are an example of local lore intended to frighten and confuse outsiders and amuse locals, similar to the jackalope, hoop snake, wild haggis or snipe hunt.

Various methods suggested to deter drop bear attacks include placing forks in the hair, having Vegemite or toothpaste spread behind the ears or in the armpits, urinating on oneself, and only speaking English in an Australian accent.

The Australian Museum has a purportedly serious entry on drop bears in its catalogue of Australian fauna, classifying them as Thylarctos plummetus.  The description says they are about the size of a very large dog, have coarse orange fur with dark mottling, have powerful forearms for climbing and attacking prey, and bite using broad powerful premolars rather than canines.  Specifically it states that they weigh 120 kilograms (260 lb) and have a length of 130 centimeters (51 in).  However, elsewhere, the museum acknowledges that this was not a serious entry, and was inspired by the "silly season".  The Australian Museum also established a small display in the museum itself, exhibiting what it said may have been drop bear related artifacts.


The Irish dullahan (also Gan Ceann, meaning "without a head" in Irish) is a type of unseelie (the darkly-inclined) fairy.

The dullahan is a headless rider, usually on a black horse who carries his or her own head under one arm.  The head's eyes are small, black, and constantly dart about like flies, while the mouth is constantly in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head.  The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese.  The dullahan uses the spine of a human corpse for a whip, and their wagon is adorned with funereal objects (e.g. candles in skulls to light the way, the spokes of the wheels are made from thigh bones, the wagon's covering made from a worm-chewed pall) or dried human skin.  When the dullahan stops riding, that is where a person is due to die.  The dullahan calls out their name, at which point they immediately perish.

There is no way to bar the road against a dullahan – all locks and gates open to them when they approach.  They do not appreciate being watched while on their errands, throwing a basin of blood on those who dare to do so (often a mark that they are among the next to die), or even lashing out the watchers' eyes with their whips.  They are frightened of gold, and even a single gold pin can drive a dullahan away.


Dzunuḵ̓wa, also Tsonoqua, Tsonokwa, is a figure in Kwakwaka'wakw mythology.  She is an ancestor of the Namgis clan through her son, Tsilwalagame.  She is venerated as a bringer of wealth, but is also greatly feared by children, because she is also known as an ogress who steals children and carries them home in her basket to eat.

Her appearance is that of a naked, black in color, old monster with long pendulous breasts.  She is also described as having bedraggled hair.  In masks and totem pole images she is shown with bright red pursed lips because she is said to give off the call "Hu!"  It is often told to children that the sound of the wind blowing through the cedar trees is actually the call of Dzunuḵ̓wa.  Some myths say that she is able to bring herself back from the dead (an ability which she uses in some myths to revive her children) and regenerate any wound.  She has limited eyesight, and can be easily avoided because she can barely see.  She is also said to be rather drowsy and dim-witted.  She possesses great wealth and will bestow it upon those who are able to get control of her child.

In one myth a tribe tricks her into falling into a pit of fire.  The tribe burned her for many days until nothing was left, which prevented her from reviving herself.  It is said that the ashes that came off this fire turned into mosquitoes.  At the end of a Kwakiutl potlatch ceremony, the host chief comes out bearing a mask of Dzunuḵ̓wa which is called thegeekumhl.  This is the sign that the ceremony is over.



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