Folklore in Nicaragua, Proverbs, Language, Culture
Nicaraguan folklore plays a large role in Nicaraguan culture. Many of its stories, songs and dances tell tales of mysterious and often frightening characters known by all Nicaraguans. Nicaragua's folklore and oral traditions have given rise to at the least 25 distinctive myths/legends. Folkloric legends have influenced Nicaraguan culture with regards to beliefs relating to things as simple as the order of the universe.
The most terrifying of Nicaragua’s folkloric characters is La Cegua, a witch who resides in the woods. She takes on several facades. At times she appears in a white corn leaf dress with a veil covering her face. It is said that she has long black hair covering over her face. She is also said to wear a Guarumo Tree leaf dress and her voice is made rasping and hollow by plantain leaves covering her teeth. Others say that her face is ghostly and that her eyes stare into her victim’s souls. Still another version says that she is believed to have the face of a horse. Nicaraguans also say that she walks through the woods and back roads naked, waiting for her next victim. Men are drawn to her fantastical silhouette. The words she speaks to these men are so horrific that the victim goes insane instantaneously – something from which they never recover. La Cegua is believed to have super-human abilities and is able to walk through solid objects, gravitate above ground and fly at extreme speeds in her efforts to lure men into her trap. To save yourself from such an encounter you should carry mustard seeds and throw them before her. She apparently will stop to try and pick up the magical seeds. As with other myths in Nicaraguan folklore, the tale of La Cegua is believed to ensure that men come straight home after work.
La Carretanagua is considered the embodiment of Nicaraguan folklore and mythology. The tale is a blend of past realities and imaginative oral culture. Apparently, the story of La Carretanagua is based on caravans of Spaniards who conquered the land during the 16th century. As the ox carts moved through the land the Spaniards would plunder the Indian settlements, taking their gold and supplies as well as capturing slaves. Slaves were chained and led along on these journeys as the Spanish carts left ruin and death in their wake. Legend states that La Carretanagua makes his way through towns from about 1:00 am, making a racket as his ancient oxen pull his cart along. Individuals who say they have heard him in the night have discovered that one of the town’s citizens is dead the next day. Those have ‘seen’ this mysterious entourage of oxen and lost souls say that it moves quickly and is unable to turn corners due to is cross shape, simply disappearing as it reaches the end of a road. This tale may have been created to provide Nicaraguans with a tangible understanding of death.
The Nicaraguan folkloric legend of La Mocuana is believed to be based on genuine history and it is thought that La Mocuana was a living Indian princess. Her father was hospitable to the Spanish conquerers at first but then ordered them to leave. Soon the Spanish forces returned to take over the village and take their gold. The chief of the village had hidden the treasure and his daughter, La Mocuana, was the only other individual who knew its whereabouts. During a battle between the two groups the tribe gained victory. Some time later the son of one of the Spanish soldiers came to live near the village and soon fell in love with La Macuana. She too fell in love with him and they planned to run away together. She gave him her father’s treasure so that they could have something for their lives together. The Spaniard preferred to keep the gold for himself and sealed La Macuana in a cave, running away with the treasure. La Mocuana escaped through the back of the cave. The heartbroken princess began to wander the woods and was driven mad by the thoughts of betrayal and feelings of guilt. Country people say that her sad figure can be seen on dark nights. She is also said to lure drunkards and philanderers to her cave where they disappear.
These are just three tales from Nicaraguan folklore. They provide a good example of how myths have become an intrinsic part of the locals’ culture.
Last updated: January 17, 2020