Most of the major cultures around the world have passed down imaginative tales about mythical creatures like lumbering giants and magical elves to fearsome trolls and impish satyrs. Many books, movies and shows continue to captivate us by the beliefs of legendary beasts and fearful creatures even today. The mythical creatures from different cultures around the world are believed to do different jobs such as upholding morality, enforcing taboos, connecting to divinity, warning against dangers and, most importantly, entertaining. Most of these supernatural creatures are mostly associated with a mix of celebration and superstition. We have put together a list of cultural beliefs based on the creepiest mythical creatures from around the world.
Ushi-oni is a bovine-headed strange monster (yōkai) from the folklore and mythology of western Japan. It is believed that the mysterious yokai once haunted Japan and particularly appears on beaches, attacking people who walk there and terrorizing fishermen out in the sea. Ushi-oni, which is depicted differently in various regions, looks like a crab with the body of an ox in Shimane, while in Shikoku it has tusks and wings like that of a flying squirrel.
Manananggal (The Philippines)
Having gotten its name from the Tagalog word “Tanggal” meaning “to split”, Manananggal is a hideous, vampire-like old mythical creature popular in the western province of the Philippines. It separates from the lower part of the body and its fangs and wings give it a vampire-like appearance. It transforms at night by growing its bat-like wings wide and can sever its upper torso from its lower body. It is believed that it can be killed by sprinkling salt or putting crushed garlic on its severed lower torso. Do you think this is what inspired the origin of vampires?
Bai Ze (China)
Bai Ze, which literally means “white marsh”, is a supernatural cow-like beast from Chinese mythology that resembles a white ox with six horns and nine eyes – three on its head and three on its broadsides. Bai Ze can speak human languages and has an appearance that can cause nightmares but is actually considered a sign of good luck and a good omens. It is said that the creature is present only in countries ruled by wise and virtuous leaders.
Baba Yaga (Russia)
Baba Yaga, also spelt Baba Jaga, in Slavic folklore, is portrayed as an old, skinny ogress performing dark magic, who flies on a mortar instead of a broom and steals, cooks and eats her victims, usually children. Baba Yaga lives with two or three sisters – who are also known as Baba Yaga, and are undeniably the creepiest mythical creatures of Russia – in a forest hut that spins continually on birds’ legs. She is believed to be a guardian of the fountains of the water of life and is also known as a forest spirit, who offers guidance to those who seek her help respectfully. If she doesn’t eat them up, that is.
Chupacabra (Puerto Rico)
The Chupacabra, meaning ‘goat-sucker’, is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico back in the 1990s. Chupacabra is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock including goats, as the folk tale began when goats and chickens turned up dead in Puerto Rico with their blood completely drained. The legend spread through Mexico and the US where similar deaths of livestock also occurred.
This legendary three-headed fire-breathing hybrid monster in Greek mythology, Chimera, is the child of Typhoeus, the mightiest and deadliest monster, and Echidna, a half-snake, half-woman creature. The monster is composed of different animal parts from Lycia and Asia Minor, such as the head and body of a lion, the head of a goat on its back and a tail that ends with the head of a snake. Chimera is often portrayed in ancient Greek and Roman art as being slain by the hero Bellerophon while riding the winged horse Pegasus.
Having its origins in German folklore, the Alp is a malevolent, vampiric spirit best known for its shape-shifting abilities, similar to the creatures from werewolf lore. This male demon, which has the ability to shift its shape into cats, dogs, snakes, butterflies and pigs is believed to appear in the nightmares of men, women, and children. The creature was also believed to cause sleeping problems such as sleepwalking, sleep paralysis and sleep apnea in the old days. It is impossible to kill the Alp as it resides only in dreams.
Banshee is a supernatural fairy being in Irish and other Celtic folklore and is believed to be the bearer of unfortunate truth, wailing outside a home to warn of the imminent death of a family member. A person hearing the mournful “keening” or wailing screaming or lamentation at night is believed to foretell the death of a member of the family. Also depicted as an old deathly lady with a pale face covered by a veil, Banshee is associated to be a good spirit who foretells death to give other family members a chance to prepare. Nevertheless, the wailing of a Banshee can be outright creepy, and even deafening.
Sasquatch (North America)
Bigfoot, commonly referred to as Sasquatch, is a purported ape-like creature said to inhabit the forests of North America. The creature is known to many residents of the United States, but has been seen by only a few. The creature is allegedly covered with hair and dwells in the forests. It gets its name from the Salish word “se’sxac” which means “wild men”.
The winged beast, the dragon is unsurprisingly the most popular, and undoubtedly the one of the creepiest mythical creatures in England, Wales, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, China and Italy. A particular dragon that was supposed to have been discovered at an underground lake in the fifth century is depicted on the national flag of Wales. Like we all know, dragons are humongous flying creatures that can breathe fire and burn villages in a breath.
Do you know of any creepy mythical creatures’ culture in your country? Tell us about them in the comments below.
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