Wednesday, May 06, 2009

il Sarvanot

il Sarvanot

Tales of mischievious, mythical beings exist in nearly every culture, but this is the first I've heard of naughty woodland imps in my 6 years of living here. In Hawaii there is the industrious menehune, and while I can't ever claim having seen them, the story goes that the menehunes built a ditch and a fishpond on the island of Kauai. In Italy, stories of sarvanot in the Occitan valleys portray a creature bent on causing trouble, and while researching trails in Valle Varaita, I came upon info where they were implemented in a particular itinerary. A cultural group in the village of Rore had created an environment depicting these short, unbecoming and hairy creatures in their natural surroundings. See link (italian).

We were only able to see one of them. It felt a little bit weird taking the photo because I had to get up pretty close, but I felt as if someone unseen was watching me! Just an overactive imagination because the dogs didn't even turn to sniff. Awww mama! That's only a dummy!! This was the first outing where we were forced to turn back barely 15 minutes into the hike. Landslides and heavy snow melt had rendered parts of the path impassable where it crossed over a normally tranquil stream.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd never heard about him either. You have a special talent for sniffing out the unusual - both natural and supernatural.

12:11 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

It actually looks a bit creepy.

12:54 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger K and S said...

I would have screamed had I seen it in the trees..

1:18 PM, May 06, 2009  
Anonymous RONW said...


1:44 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Ann said...

Never heard of such things before.. So new to me! and the pic looks so eery.
Good to see Mr.B having fun in spring :) how is maddie doing?

3:11 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Michele said...

My Italian Grandmother was very superstitious. She used to tell me stories all the time of a scary little rumpelstilskin like man. I have no idea how to spell his name but just thinking about it right now freaks me out!

5:28 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger iris said...

creepy dummy. cute dog! i remember when i was small, i was totally convinced there were menehunes coming thru the house. and i still believe! ha!

5:52 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Deb said...

ew! they are not very cute, are they! unlike our sweet little menehunes - heehee:) sounds like when we go to hana - sometimes the roads/streams are washed out and no can.

hmm - maybe the sarvanot do not want visitors right now...

8:04 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger 2kamuela47 said...

looks creepy to me too! love the last picture!

8:09 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Casalba - it's this chestnut forest that keeps interfering with my mystic inner self. What with the owls, donkeys, cuckoos, fringuellos and other various animal sounds, the only things that make a blip on my "radar" are the things that go beyond the norm!

Scintilla, Kat, RONW - he wouldn't be chosen as a lip-locking partner for a kissing contest, that's for sure! :-DDD

Ann - there are no mythical forest creatures in your culture? I'd like to find a book that lists all of them in the world! Maddie is doing great...will share a post of her later :o)

Michelle - I wonder if your grandmother was talking about the Buffardello (Lucca)? Or the Lauru (Puglia), Sbilf (Carnia), Mazzemarelle (Abruzzo), Mazzamareddu (Sicilia), Scazzamurrieddhru (Salento), or Squasc (eastern Lombardy)? I was amazed to learn all of the different names in various regions!

Iris, Deb, Laura - our menehunes take the prize for good looks is all I can say. The sarvanot are said to have goat hooves for feet!

10:10 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Fern Driscoll said...

That is an ugly little tree gnome. It's a pity the walk was curtailed - but then again, maybe you don't need to see too many of these critters in one day. Goat feet? Sound like satyrs...

10:36 PM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger .kat. said...

Poor pup. I can't tell
if he's bummed or if
he's relieved!

6:54 AM, May 07, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Fern - makes the Irish leprechauns look that much cuter, doesn't it? ;-)

.Kat - that shot was taken just after he had leapt across the stream from a shallow ledge on the opposite side. That was the only one we could cross; MrB will only tolerate baths.

8:26 AM, May 07, 2009  
Anonymous Lori said...

If I didn't know about it before hand, I think that would've freaked me out! I hope you get to go farther with the next hike! :)

11:28 AM, May 07, 2009  
Blogger Michele said...

Nope, none of those. I will try to write it out how she said it. I've asked so many people in the past and no one has ever heard of this before.

Mona Geeta

4:07 PM, May 07, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Lori - for sure that I would've freaked had I not known beforehand!

Michele - the closest I could find is Monachicchio moh-nah-KEE-kyoh (Basilicata). Like the others, they're trouble-making imps but the Monachicchio of Maratea (Potenza province) are said to be a very bad spirit, often ending up being the equivalent to the Devil.

11:56 AM, May 08, 2009  
Blogger Rowena... said...

Just a note:Wikipedia lists the different names of these types of creatures under the general grouping of folletto (imp).

12:03 PM, May 08, 2009  
Anonymous manju said...

You're sure those aren't "liberated gnomes" gone feral?! ; D

Too bad about your hike. I'm guessing there was some vino and nibbles that made up for the disappointment!

8:41 PM, May 09, 2009  

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