Mythical creatures have long played a part in the history and culture of a country, and it seems no country is untouched from such beliefs. Looking specifically at the folklore in some countries, we found that many cultures adopt superstitions about spirits and mythical beings. Let us take a closer look at some of these creatures.
Folklore has given us so many stories, characters and mythical creatures over the generations.
Take for example the Vedas in the Hindu religion. Some of the oldest cononical scriptures of Hinduism are often referred to as "shruti" which when translated means "that which is heard". This is an ancient practice of passing the stories on by word of mouth.
Originating around 1000-1200 BC, the Vedas are a great example of the power of word of mouth and how these stories can go on to create and inform belief systems that last for thousands of years.
However, folklore is a bit different than ancient holy texts, as it tends to pass down innocuous stories, fables and myths with colourful characters, creatures and plots, though the principal still remains the same.
Taking a closer look, we've illustrated some of our favourite mythical creatures from folklore, why not check them for yourself, some may even be familiar!
Brownie - Scottish Folklore
According to folk tradition, Brownies would come at night to perform household chores whilst the owners slept.
The lineage of Brownies can be traced all the way back to ancient Roman traditions, where they had guardian spirits called Lares. Brownies have appeared in literature from as early as 1645 and are still represented today. The most notable is Dobby, the House Elf, from Harry Potter.
Domovoy - Slavic Folklore
Domovoy are masculine, bearded creatures that take somewhat human form and are said to live in the kitchen and bring prosperity and wealth to a household.
The Domovoy comes from Slavic Native Faith (or Rodnovery), which is a "modern" Pagan religion that spawned in the face of the Age of Enlightenment. As a masculine figure, Domovoy are said to fortify national identity for Slavic people.
Baku - Chinese Folklore
Baku is a chimera, having head of an elephant, eyes of a rhino, tiger legs, and body of a bear. The Baku is said to eat up bad dreams if you were to call it in the middle of the night.
Rooted in 17th century Chinese folklore, Baku is also a popular figure in Japanese culture and can often be found sewn in to bedding and painted on pillars of temples. It's not unusual for Japanese children to keep a Baku talisman by their bed to ward off bad dreams.
Matagot - French Folklore
Often presented as a black cat, Matagots are said to bring prosperity and good fortune to their owner. The only condition is that they're treated with good food and a comfy bed.
The French have a strong tradition for folklore, beginning with Occitan literature in the 11th and 12th centuries. Considered to be the first text in a romantic language, Occitan literature gave way to famous texts, songs and inspired much of French lore and tradition.
Banshee - Irish Folklore
The Banshee is a fairy woman that cries a lament for the dead with piercing, shrieking wails and weeps. They're depicted as either young, beautiful women in flowing dresses or as old hags dressed in rags.
Irish mysticism and folklore is one of the most colourful and storied in the world and when such tragedy and trauma haunts parts of Ireland, this can be reflected in the mythical tales. Due to their notoriety, Banshees in particular are still heavily represented today in films, TV and even video games.
Nisse - Norwegian Folklore
Small in stature, Nisse act as protectors of the farm, tending to animals and doing household chores. In return, they ask for respect and a bowl of buttered porridge on Christmas.
Nordic folklore is a rich tapestry of creatures, fables and characters and the Nisse are no exception. They're associated with the winter solstice, which is why we'll more commonly associate them with Christmas elves. Belief in Nisse, dropped with the Cristianisation of Scandinavian countries as it could be interpreted as worshipping false idols.
Zashiki Warashi - Japanese Folklore
A well loved house spirit, they're child-like and fond of mischief. Said to be ghosts of dead children, they would live in large, old houses and grant the owners with good fortunes.
In Japanese culture, it's said that the Zashiki Warashi are a good example of a failthful spirit that came from another land to do work for a family, it is noted that the Zashiki Warashi do not descend into the garden of a house and suggests that this relates to how performing arts in the past had a division between the garden and stage.
Boggart - English Folklore
Depicted as scary creatures with deep eyes, long arms and legs, and a hideous appearance, it's said that the Boggart is the manifestation of all your fears.
Commonly known as the Bogeyman, this is one mythical creature that's very well known across the western world. It's said that the Boggart is a depiction of the men that would remove dead bodies during the Black Plague and are a great example of how the trauma of such an event can live on through the ensuing folk tales and lore.