In the magical lands of the Ciguapa

Campesino people throughout Kiskeya swear that a creature they call Ciguapa roams the country side. This creature is said to have long hair that reaches down to its ankles. Its feet are inverted, pointing backwards.

As a child just as with many children in the Dominican Republic, I heard stories of these Ciguapa. How they’d break into food storage huts (bohio} and steal salt and corn. My mother and grandmother would swear these creatures made a peculiar sound at night.  Some say that Ciguapa, who are both male and female, occasionally will fall in love with humans. When they do, it is said that upon the Ciguapa’s death, the human will die as well. Thus, when people walk in the forest, they try not to catch her eye.

Some scholars mistakenly assert that the Ciguapa is not a Taino story. They base this assumption on the “fact” that this creature is never depicted in Taino “mythical stories or cave wall paintings. This assumption is wrong however. Ciguapa are in fact not exclusive to the DR or the Caribbean.

All across the Circum-Caribbean other Arawakan Indians and others have the exact same story. The Ciguapa is known as Currupia in Venezuela, Caipora, in Brazil, Dai Dai in Guyana, Boraro in Colombia, Duen in Trinidad and Siguanama in El Salvador. None of these tribes depict them in their art or arts and crafts either.

It must be understood that Taino religion is not “mythology”. Tainos had a religion not myths, but they did have folklore which is what the Ciguapa story boils down native folklore. These tribes used this story to keep young children out of the forest at night.