Duendes are gnome-like beings found in the legends of Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Central and South America, as well as the Philippines. The word duende is Spanish for elf.
Appearance: Duendes are small, 18 in up to 3-4 ft tall, human-like beings. In many legends the duende has no thumbs, dresses in animal skins and furs and wears a strange, wide-brimmed hat. For an image of a duende, click HERE.
Lore: The legends of duendes vary from region to region. Some believe they are the souls of unbaptized infants. Duendes can be either good or bad, but the good ones are never truly good and the bad ones are never truly evil. This said duendes have a habit of tormenting people, usually those humans who have foolishly destroyed their homes or killed their animals. Sometimes trespassers are also targeted. With time this belief evolved into punishing naughty children who disobeyed their parents or who stayed out too late after sunset. Duendes are dedicated tricksters and delight in playing pranks on humans. They also love to steal from humans as well. Sometimes they return the objects they have stolen on their own. Other times one has to politely ask for the item back. It is believed that if one asks for the item back that the duende will return it. In modern times legends of evil duendes have become popular. Legends of duendes slaughtering animals, destroying property, and kidnapping and eating children abound. In 2008 reports of a duende terrorizing an Argentina town hit the media. An alleged film of a duende was recorded by a teenager named Jose Alverez in the city of Guemes. Alverez and his friends where recorded speaking when the camera pans to the distance to see something wearing a cone-shaped hat do a little dance. Alverez claimed that his friends and other residents of Guemes were so frightened of the duende that they refused to go outside after dark. The problem is that that video may be a hoax. In season 2, episode 5 of the series, Monsters & Mysteries in America, a segment of a family driven out of their Porterville, CA, home by a gnome was featured. Tammy Thomas and her grandchildren had moved into a new home. Unfortunately for them a duende was living in a small shack behind the home. The creature was described as a living garden gnome, standing about 3 ft tall, with a long gray beard and having evil black, beady eyes and sharp, pointed teeth. The duende would awaken the family at night by the noise of it running in the grass, rummaging through trash and breaking stuff. The duende would even peek in windows and frighten everyone. Eventually Tammy Thomas had enough of the creature and moved her family out of the home. In 2010, a woman named Charlie Thomas and her family moved into the same house. Charlie and her family were not aware of the experiences that Tammy and her family had at the house. Charlie's family soon began reporting frightening encounters with the duende as well and they too eventually moved.
Powers: According to some legends, duendes may be able to shape-shift and make themselves invisible.
Defense Against Duendes: The lore about defending one's self against duendes or repelling duendes is contradictory. Many people claim that holy water and religious items have no effect on them. Other people claim that a rosary will keep them away. Since duendes are similar to the fairies of European lore, it is possible that iron may be useful, as fairies fear iron and will flee from it.