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The Douen is a character from Trinidad and Tobago folklore, it is believed they are the lost souls of children that had not yet been baptized or christened. Their most recognized characteristic are their feet that are said to be backwards, with the heel facing the front.


The Folklore

Douen (pronounced Dwen) are considered to be the ‘lost souls’ of children that were not baptized or christened before death. It is said that they are destined to wander the earth eternally while practicing their collection of pranks. Neither male nor female, douens live in the forest, swamps and near rivers in Trinidad and Tobago. Their manifestation is that of a naked child never growing more than two or three feet in height. They wear a large floppy straw hat and have an entirely undistinguished face with the exception of a small mouth. The one characteristic that allows them to be recognized as douens are their feet, which are turned backwards with the heel facing forward. Douens roam the land in the pursuit of children that are not yet baptized, or christened in anticipation of luring them away deep into the woods until they are lost. They charm the children when the moon is full and have a mesmerizing whooping sound. Children who play with a douen may consider them to be a regular child while the douen slowly but surely leads the child farther and farther away from the protection of home. Some children may be found the next morning in a precarious arrangement if they are found at all. Douens also have been known to come to people’s houses crying and whimpering for the love of a mother. They feed off cultivated gardens and seem to have a bizarre fondness for water crabs. Often thought to be evil spirits and malevolent modest creature’s douens do have a good natured side. They have been known to be of assistance to Papa Bois in the forest when an animal is trapped and injured by imitating animal calls to throw hunters off track. To avert the douens from calling your children into the forest it is said that you should never call a child’s name in open places for the douens will then in turn call the child’s name to attract them away into the forest never to return. There have been actual reports of douen encounters from children in rural areas of Trinidad such as Piparo, Penal and Barrakpore.

Origins of Folklore in Trinidad and Tobago

Folklore validates several aspects of customs and validates its rituals and foundations. It also offers rationalizations when foundations and principles are questioned. Folklore acts as a controlling aspect and can tell the history of a people, along with dangers and how to avert them.[1] Trinidad and Tobago folklore is primarily of African foundation, with French, Spanish and English influences. Religious or semi-religious cults of African origin have undeniably contributed much to the Island's folklore.They are ugly and fearsome. Many of the supernatural folklore characters are identical with those of African deities. It is exceedingly complicated to draw a line between the stern religious elements and what may be described as traditions. Nevertheless in the African tradition, stories were meant to instill values in the children.[2]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Julie Carthy. ["Folklore in the Oral Tradition, Fairytales, Fables and Folk-legend"]. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Retrieved on 2008-08-14.
  2. ^ Williams, Eric (1993). History of the People of Trinidad & Tobago,A&b Publishers Group
  • Caribbean Folklore: A Handbook (Greenwood Folklore Handbooks ) 2007

DONALD R. HILL is Professor of Anthropology and Africana and Latino Studies at State University College at Oneonta.

  • History of the People of Trinidad & Tobago(Trade Paperback)

by Williams, Eric. A&b Publishers Group, 1993

  • Folklore & Legends of Trinidad and Tobago(Trade Paperback) by Besson, Gerard. Paria Publishing Company Ltd., 2007
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