The Dominican Republic is a country rich in folkloric traditions and beliefs.

  They’re woven into our everyday lives and are an important, vibrant part of our culture. Part of that folklore is the magic, monsters and mythical creatures that populate our stories. Much like our magical rituals and superstitions, Dominican monsters can trace their origins back to our Taíno, European and African roots. These five monsters serve different functions in Dominican culture: to corral wayward children and husbands, to explain unexplainable sicknesses and of course, to scare the living shit out of people.  

La Ciguapa

La Ciguapa is probably the most known monster of Dominican folklore. The origins of this myth are hard to pin down, some say it’s Taíno, others say African, and still others say its a legacy of colonial imposition of Christianity on the western hemisphere. The name however seems to be Nahuatl in origin from the word for woman, cihuatl and share similarities with the Honduran myth of La Cigua and the Costa Rican myth of La Cegua. In Dominican folklore, a Ciguapa is a wild woman-type creature with long dark hair that lives in the forests in the mountains. They are always naked and differ from other similar myths in that their feet face backwards making it impossible to track them. Though for some she is a herald of death, the most oft-repeated version of her myth is that men who look upon her are bewitched and follow her into the forest where she has sex with them before killing them. Tracking a ciguapa is said to be possible during a full moon with the aid of a special kind of dog, and their incredible beauty might make it worth the try, if you’re OK with her face being the last thing you see on this earth.  

 El bacá

The mythology around el bacá varies slightly but the premise is the same: when a person makes a pact with the devil, a bacá is conjured to ensure that the person goes through with their end of the bargain. In some myths he’s a dog from hell with red burning eyes made of hellfire. In other more sinister accounts the bacá comes in the form of domesticated animals like cows and chickens that feed on the souls of any human that passes through the land they’re occupying at noon, sundown or three in the morning. Think you’re safe if you avoid making pacts with the devil? Think again. Bacás can be inherited. When the pact-maker dies the bacá passes to their children or in the absence of children to their next of kin. Bacás tied to land can be passed on through inheritance of land or purchase of land and the debt to the devil passes on as well. Something to think about the next time you go out to buy a house or piece of land—your soul might be at stake.