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Thursday, 1 December 2011

More Freshwater Monkeys (Sprites)

As far back as the posting I made on the type of Gargoyle dragons known specifically as Necks and Nokkers, I mentioned that the names were also in common usage for what Coleman et al would call Freshwater Merfolk, and that legends about the creatures also went back into the Middle ages
if not also including the older stories of Fauns and Nymphs. On the one hand the females could be described as alluring "Inland Mermaids" but on the whole they were otherwise described as Kappa-like.

A Girl Troll Encounters a Norrken
 There is a long confusion in Europe also between the Freshwater "Sprites" (the name which is most commonly used), wildmen that just happened to go swimming, seals and other unexpected but otherwise normal creatures which are in turn described as monstrous. Part of the confusion could refer to the legs and feet: it has been remarked by some (including Mark Hall) that the "Goatlegged" fauns have swimming legs that are jointed the same as the "frog's legs" ascribed to Kappas, and going along with this is the common superstition is that Dwarfs and Elves do not want their feet to be seen by humans because actually they have webbed duck's feet. That could eaily be a story derived from confusions with "Water-Goblins" and "Water-Brownies." Brian Froud's Faeries speaks of such creatures as being "Water-Brownies" but they include such recognised individuals as Peg Powler. The creatures are also taken to be the human morph of shapeshifting water-horses such as the Kelpies. Some of the water sprites of British lore also turn out to be "Goatlegged" and one of the Wikipedia entries mentions that the Norrkens of Scandinavia are essentially identical to the Kappas of Japan.

It would seem that such creatures have ticker manes of hair on the back while their fronts and limbs were much smoother. I suppose in some cases the thicker hair could be poorly dried and give the appearance of "Spines" on the back as Coleman et all have it, but I do not find any good indicators for this from actual myth and folklore I have examined. The thicker hair on the back slicked down is probably what is described as the Kappa's"Shell" and while the tale about needing to keep a supply of water on the dished part of the head to remain on land is probably an addition for story purposes, I can well believe that the tops to the heads of such creatres really are "Dished", especially in comparison to a normal human's domed forehead.
Such creatures may well also retain a short tail.
The "Classic" Watersprites or Water-Goblins of Europe are connected to Prague and are the subject of a famous opera by Dvorak. The general description is once again much the same as a Kappa but with emphasis on large fishlike eyes, long hair especially on the head and back where it forms a mane, and a monkeylike body but with webbed hands and feet. They are ordinarily of "Dwarf" size, about 4-5 feet tall.

Some of the depictions still try to make the Watersprites as cute or attractive while others focus on making them look monstrous. As is in the case of regular Merfolk at sea, it is usually the case that the females and young ones seen at sea are thought to be attractive while the adult males and elderly females are ugly and threatening. This may well be an actual evadvantage to them since it is much the same in ther types of OW  monkeys and baboons, and probably is some sort of a social status indicator. The larger and more poweful males actually are meant to be uglier and more intimidating as part of their function in society to defend the others and to gain an advantage over other males during mating competitions.

The world map shows some general areas where such creatures are reported, and once again I would like to thank Tyler Stone for making the key suggestions as to the nature and identity of these creatures. He deserves the credit because frankly I had given up on the subject by the time he made his suggestions.

Tolkien basically took over a description of a Watersprite (Water-Brownie) and put it in his book The Hobbit (Hobbits=Brownies), as the Gollum, and Gollum became an ongoing important character in his epic series Lord of the Rings. But he did not invent Brownies, Trolls, Watersprites, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres or any of the rest of them-he only made his own versions by giving them specific languages and cultures NOT specified in the original European Folktales (which he insisted other authors "Didn't get right")

This is incidentally the 200th posting on this blog.
Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. The map does not show Innsmouth...Hahaha!


  2. HaHaHa on you, Innsmouth is not a FRESHWATER location and does not count, even if there WERE legitimate sightings from the area (And don't go mentioning the Dover Demon or anything like that-completely different sort of thing!)

    But then again, there are sightings on record that are reminiscent of HP Lovecraft "Deep Ones", even an alleged corpse that washed ashore in Englend in the 1800s, So maybe some of the sprites can handle brackish or saltwater also? As far as alleged corpses go, there are a few periodically alleged in this category but they seem to be mostly manufactured gaffes, particularluy of "Kappas"

    Best Wishes, Dale D. (You had a laugh on me, I had one on you. We're even now)

  3. Your article is a mix of folkloric tales, modern fiction and dubious sightings ... Whats the point?

    Go to for monsters ...

  4. I can see that you are not paying attention, for one thing. The "Modern Tales" are continuing the Folkloric tradition, just as Hobbits are the same as the traditional Hobs (plus the diminuitve suffix) And as a matter of fact, the mix of folkloric tales, modern fiction and dubious sightings is EXACTLY what goes by: it happens to be the main sorts of evidence that any Cryptozoological endeavour falls back on (excepting artistic representations, which you left out) The fact is, we're all in the same boat as far as that goes.

    My main point heree is that these traditions correspond to other traditions elsewhere, in the Orient and in North America, and that all of these reports reflect a consistent subsection of Cryptozoologiical reports (as well as Folklore, etc) and THAT much was mostly in encouragement for Tyler Stone, whose theory it is I am supplelementing.

    Now as for "If you want monsters, go to..." I could not agree more: You certainly SHOULD go there: I am NOT in the business of "Monsters" per se. I am in the business of finding out what real creatures might lie behind stories about monsters. I could really give a fig for "Monsters" in most cases. Real life is not about "Monsters" IF there is such a thing as a reality behind these reports and Tyler Stone's aquatic monkey theory supplies the answer, then I want to know that, THAT would be the important part for me.

    Cryptozoology is supposed to lead from Folklore to the discovery of new species: "Monster" enthusiasts most often do NOT want any truth about these things to be revealed, what they aim for is the preservation of the status quo. And that is a point of view I never could understand and that I have no sympathy with.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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