Little People

Most cultures throughout the world have myths, legends, and folklore about small ENTITIES who stand anywhere from 4 feet 6 inches to only a few inches tall. In the vast majority of little people 295

cases, these beings are regarded as primarily supernatural, although they may leave physical traces and do other things that humans do—eat food, wear clothes, use weapons, speak a language, and worship gods. Little people often represent the world lived in by children: they are imperfectly understood, inferior, and yet compelled to do the bidding of adults.

The literature on Little people is vast. Descriptions vary widely depending on the environment and local belief systems. Some cultures have difficulty distinguishing between the real and the mythic worlds, and the cryptozoologist trying to make sense of it all runs the risk of making the false assumption that these creatures have a basis in physical reality. Often, the legends are cited as evidence for Small HOMINIDS, which might include anything from an unknown race of human Pygmies to surviving aus-tralopiths or unclassified species of apes or monkeys. Perhaps some folktales are based on beings that went extinct thousands of years ago and have become distorted, amplified, or hopelessly entangled with other motifs.

In this category are found diminutive entities that could represent folk memories of genuine Hominids or Primates, as well as those that have been mentioned in the cryptozoological literature.

Variant names:

Africa—Aziza, Gnéna, Ijiméré, Kalanoro, Mmoata, Tokolosh.


Australasia—Jingara, Junjadee, Mumulou, Vui, Yawt.

Central and South America—Alux, Cu-rupira, Duende, Güije, Ikal Kenaima, Shiru, Trauco, WAshipi.

Europe—^lf (Old English), Duergar (Scandinavia), Dwarf, Elf, Ellyllon (Wales), Fairy, Gnome (Germany), Knocker (Cornwall, England), Kobold (Germany), Massariol (Italy), Nis (Scandinavia), Vila (Eastern Europe).

North America—Am AYP ATHENYA, Atnan, Ja-gen-oh (Iroquoian), MeMEGWESI, NiniMBE, Nunnehi, Pinini, Pukwudgee, Squolk-Ty-Mish, Yunwi Tsunsdí.

Sources: Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary of

Fairies (London: Allen Lane, 1976); Nancy Arrowsmith and George Moorse, A Field Guide to the Little People (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977); Carol Rose, Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia ofthe Little People (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1996); John E. Roth, American Elves (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1997).

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