Guianese tales

French Guiana Flag

With 97% of the territory covered by an equatorial forest, it remains among the richest and least ecologically fragmented world, the Guianese forest.
Therefore, it is at the heart of this equatorial climate that many Creole tales and legends reside.

Those Creole tales and legends are told from an early age to the young Guianese population. The stories are knowledge of past experiences from one generation to the next. The notion of “tale” comes from the context of oral tradition. It brings together several types of marvelous, facetious, and philosophical tales.

These fictional tales and legends are stories aiming to teach and warn the youngest about life’s dangers. It teaches people to be careful, explaining that every action done in life has repercussions, good or bad.

Forest probably hiding the creatures of the Guianese tales

The Guianese Folklore is based on different popular beliefs, myths, Creole legends, and Amerindian and Guiana Bushinengue tales. The reason for this is that the Guyanese territory is the homeland of very different ethnic groups. The region welcomes various nationalities like Brazilians, French, Martinican, Chinese, Lebanese, and many more.

Guiana owns a certain amount of tales and creative stories; some became very famous across the territory. The most known are the Maskilili and the Baclou stories that I will tell you later about. Otherwise, you can have a look at the other ones: Maman Dilo (Mermaid), Compère lapin et chat-tig (rabbit an tiger cat), Pagra, and Araignée et Serpent (The Spider and the Snake).

1) The Maskilili

The name Maskilili originally refers to a spirit, born in the Native Amerindian tradition. However, this tale is considered an emblematic figure of the Creole legends where the Maskilili manifests himself as a sort of evil leprechaun, therefore wicked.

Creature part of the most famous Guianese tales
The Maskilili

Physically, the Maskilili has a big head and is often found at crossroads, a bottle of rum in its hand. Beware of him; everything in his appearance is made to disturb you. His feet are upside down, meaning that when you see him, you think that he is moving away, whereas he is getting closer to you, not always for your good. Finally, if you find your chili field devastated in the morning, it is probably that the Maskilili spent the night there. By the way, before he leaves, you may have heard his famous scream: « Sinekilili! Sinekilili ! »

2) The Baclou

The Baclou is a monster specifically related to the French Guianese tales.

The Baclou, fictional creature
The Baclou

This little evil humanoid-shaped is known for its shortness (less than a meter) and is a genuinely hideous external aspect. Don’t be fooled by the Baclou’s small size; it possesses phenomenal strength.

This creature’s birth is related to Easter time. A person has to cover an egg under his/her arm for seven days and recite specific incantations.
The creator of The Baclou must define rules, mainly for the food. Indeed, in the legend, the creature feeds on the pulpit of children or the flesh of animals. It is up to its owner to choose the nature of its meals.

Drawing a Baclou's birth

To summarize, the Baclou shouldn’t be taken lightly. Indeed, hearing from this creature is not without consequences. You can make a deal with him to bring you good fortune and good luck; however, this comes at a high price.

Some stories report that people used to call it to obtain a prosperous professional career, in politics, private life, or ask to protect their business. In this case, the Baclou was hiding under the counter.
The Baclou does not hurt the people calling for him as long as both parties respect the contract and conditions settled by the deal.
In the opposite situation, you will face retaliation that could cost life to you or your family members.

A Baclou on its own is the most dangerous creature living in the wild. The animal is capable of all misdeeds to feed himself.
Finally, you can call a Baclou by positioning yourself under a mango tree and calling it three times. However, calling a Baclou is never without consequences, be careful.

3) A land between faith and tales

Guianese beliefs are part of a particular paradox. Indeed, it is a very religious territory where the place of God in society is central. At the same time, those tales, which could be regarded as pagan to religion, are a real guide in Guianese’s daily life. This paradox exists for several reasons. The first reason is that the tales are told to find their origins in previous generations’ mysterious past. The second is that every fact of society is empirically explained by these tales and much more rarely by religion. These tales have been anchored for generations in Guianese’s daily life, giving them great importance. The latter honestly believe in these stories’ integrity. Some even claimed to have seen these creatures at the bend of a path.

Forest with fog bringing mystery to the place.
Forest in French Guiana

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  1. Dear Cassandra,

    Thank you for sharing your legends from the French Guyana. They are very interesting. Have you thought about featuring them in a short book?
    Good luck


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