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Slender Man in Mythology and Culture

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Slender Man as a modern meme, has many similarities to traditional mythology, folklore, and legend in different civilizations throughout the world, usually with respect to a tall or slender-like creature that stalks its victims at night. Additional attributes that Slender Man shares with historical legendary creatures are its frightening appearance and lack of facial features. Below is a list of some similarities between Slender Man and other mythological creatures.

Europe (in general)

Faeries

Modern Faeries tend to be portrayed as happy little winged people who grant wishes to good little children along with a name change to "Fairy" instead of the original "Faerie." Traditional Folklore Faeries were much more complicated than that. Some Faeries are benevolent and kind, but some can be cruel. While some faeries are mischievous and funny, some can be harsh and murderous. Faeries vary greatly in size and some were portrayed with wings, some were unflying giants with thick monstrous limbs, some ethereal spirits and yet others were water dwelling and lithe.

Some Faeries have been known:

  • To kidnap children
  • To appear different to different people
  • To have many names (keeping their true name secret)
  • To disguise themselves and other things using faerie glamor (E.G. Kelpies disguise as horses)
  • To eat people in some cases (E.G. Kelpies)
  • To cause disease to those they encounter
  • To be able to change their form at will
  • To put people in a trance or put a person completely under their control
  • Have odd features (such as oversized or non-existent facial features such as noses or mouths, or lack of emotion)
  • Don't always have wings (and do not require them for flight)
  • To be visible only to certain people
  • To seemingly teleport
  • Trick humans into trusting them before leading them into some sort of trap
  • To punish humans who get too nosy and meddle in faerie's bussiness (sometimes going to extremes)

All of the above are part of the Slender Man original mythos, where he appeared to have a face, but it never appeared on film. This is similar to fairies that can cause an illusion with their faerie glamor that tricks the human eye but which a camera could not discern. Both the original and contemporary mythos share similarities with traditional folklore faeries.

According to Brian Froud, a Faerie's appearance tends to be symbolic of their nature.

Germany

Der Großmann

Der Großmann (der Grossmann), or “The Tall Man” is another 16th century German myth with associated woodcuts. Der Grossmann was commonly described as a fairy of the Black Forest who takes away bad children who entered the forest at night, and would stalk them until the child confessed their wrongdoings to a parent. However, there is little evidence to support that these folktales were actually told, and evidence only exists on Slender Man fan sites. However, there is a similiar figure known as The Erlking, described below.

The Erlking

In Goethe's famous poem, (one of the more most popular depictions of the Erlking), he is described as living in the forest, and was trying to lure the child away from their father. Only the boy can sense the Erlking's presence, who eventually kills the boy. This behavior is similar to how Slender Man behaved in the early mythos.

Baldung

Baulding painting.

Hans Baldung’s Painting

Hans Baldung was a Renaissance artist who died in 1545. One of his famous paintings, Three Ages of Woman and Death, portrays a skeletal figure holding an hour glass. Something Aweful fan fiction created a myth that in 2003, when undergoing x-ray analysis for insurance reasons, it was discovered that the painting was altered early on to remove several extra limbs of the skeletal figure that were originally painted into the picture.  There is no evidence the painting was ever x-rayed. 

Käthe Kollwitz

Death seizes the children Kathe Kollwitz

Death seizes the Children, woodcut by Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz, in her anti-war woodcuts portrayed death as a faceless thin being.

British Isles

Fear Dubh

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Fear Dubh (the Black Man) is a rare Scottish legend concerning a malevolent entity that haunts footpaths and forests at night. In ancient times, it used to be connected to the Christian devil, but some of its characteristics are closer to that of Slender Man. It was used to scare small children to stay indoors and keep pesky children from snooping in the woods without their family.

The Clutchbone

The Clutchbone was a seven-foot monster, stories of whom date back as early as the 1800's in Northern England. Described as being black in color with leathery skin, its head consisted of a lit torch within a large, raised collar of material resembling rawhide. The exceptionally violent nature of the Clutchbone included alleged disappearances, destruction by burning and dismemberment of alleged victims. Lastly, violent events featuring the Clutchbone often followed previous sightings of lightning balls created by severe weather conditions leading some to assume that such a creature might arrive into this dimension or world by way of these natural phenomena.

Eastern Europe

Russia

In Russia, folklore existing at least since the early 20th century seems to place a “tall, slender man” in the role of a “corrector”, who would hunt those who existed through strange means- for instance, those who were born without a father.

North America

Bundle

Bundle is a North American/European myth dealing with a boogeyman-type entity. Bundle is a sort of monster with generic traits that are generally inconsistent. Bundle Stories are tales or stories written about Bundle. The SCP Foundation claims that Bundle (designated as SCP-582) is a real “shadowy humanoid” that propagates through people’s awareness of it, like a Tulpa. Simply writing about it, through a Bundle Story, makes it appear in that situation.

Swamp Legends

In North America, some legends claim that there are “giant spiders” in the swamps that grab victims with their legs and drag them into the depths of the water.

Ghost Stories of the American South

The book "Ghost Stories of the American South" by W.K. McNeil details the story of a tall, skinny, tree-like man who abducts a child from a family in the American South. The story was collected from a 72-year-old man in Berea, Kentucky, in 1963, meaning that the story could date back to the early 20th century.

Taíno

The Taíno culture, a civilization of pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Carribean,[1] legends often speak of the hupia, or op'a,[2] a nocturnal humanoid without a face that stalks, paralyzes its victims, and drives them insane.[3] The hupia was considered the spirit of the dead in the Taíno religion.[2][3]

Mujina sightings 1959

In 1959 sightings of a faceless woman referred to as a "Mujina" (although believed to actually have been a Noppera-bo) were reported in Kahala, Hawaii.  The creature was sited in the woman's restroom of a theatre, combing her hair. The witness went closer to the woman, and then the Mujina turned her head, revealing her lack of face. According to a Wikipedia article about Noppera-bo

"Noted Hawaiian historian, folklorist and author Glen Grant, in a 1981 radio interview dismissed the story as rumor, only to be called by the witness herself, who gave more details on the event, including the previously unreported detail that the mujina in question had red hair."

Other sightings have also allegedly occurred.

Asia

Noppera-1-

Japan

In Japan, the noppera-bō, also known as zumbera-bō,[4] or nopperabou,[5] is a faceless ghost, or yōkai, whose legendary appearance is described as "deeply terrifying," and which takes delight in terrifying humans.[4] As John Waters notes in Was It For This?:

The Noppera-bō, or faceless ghost, is a legendary creature of Japanese folklore, a kind of hobgoblin known primarily for frightening humans. The Noppera-bō appears at first as an ordinary human being, sometimes impersonating someone familiar to the victim of the scare, before causing his features to disappear, leaving a blank, smooth sheet of skin where the face ought to be. The archetype of the faceless man relates at once to hope and terror.[6]

A similar Japanese yōkai is the ashinaga-tenaga, a spirit with extremely long arms and legs.[7] Another, more obscure, yōkai, known as the Mikoshi-nyudo, also bears a striking resemblance to Slenderman, having a tall and maleable body and killing humans in wooded areas.

China

Chinese legend involves a deity known as the hundun, a faceless diety without human senses.[8] Hundun was sometimes described as a wicked humanoid with multiple limbs, the "personification of chaos." However, Hundun died when his friends tried to drill eyes a nose and a mouth into his face.[9]

Ancient Civilization

Babylonian

Babylonians, such as the Akkadians and Sumerians, believed in a specific demon called the alû, a "half-man, half-devil" creature without a face.[10] The alû creeps into its victim's bedrooms and terrifies them as they sleep.[10] The alû demon was said to cause loss of consciousness, fixation of the eyes in a stare, and loss of speech.[11]

Brazilian Cave Paintings

An early similar mythological creature is found within the cave paintings found in the Serr da Capivara National Park in the Northeast of Brazil, which are believed to date from as far back as 9000 BC. These paintings show a strangely elongated character leading a child by the hand, but make no reference to the extra appendages.

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Some Egyptian hieroglyphs seem to portray what could be multi-armed men among other, more usual hieroglyphs. This multi-armed creature is known as the Thief of the Gods.

Aztec Priests

Some Aztec art appears to depict priests removing hearts of sacrifices with three or more arms. Some Mayan art also depicted Mayan priests as such.

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Ceiba Trees

In Mayan mythology, Ceiba trees (huge with long branches) are considered sacred. Legends often link the Ceibas with scary tales and demonic creatures. One tale concerns the story of an evil spirit, disguised as a Ceiba, who would lure drunk men to it. The ya’axche’ wíinik (the Ceiba Man) was a Mayan god who lived in the Ceiba tress who would receive sacrifices by ancient Mayans.

Popular Culture

He's also similiar to certain characters in popular culture

The Tall Man

The Tall Man

The Tall Man

The antagonist of the 1979 horror film Phantasm and its sequels, the Tall Man, is likely the inspiration for the Slender Man meme and the original Slender Man picture was created from Tall Man stills.  Tall Man is also the avatar of a interdimensional being, continually stalking his enemies, and increasing his power the more they fear him, among other similarities

Cabadath

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Cabadath

Amatuer games called the Chzo Mythos featured a faceless, tall man named Cabadath as a villain in some of the games.


Pale man

The Pale Man

The Pale Man

Slender Man is similiar to the antagonist of Pan's Labyrinth, The Pale Man. Both are missing major facial features (Slender Man, his whole face. The Pale man, his eyes; which are located on his hands; and a nose. They also both bring harm to children (the Pale Man eats them). Both are also pale and bald.

The Silence

"The Silence" is a religious order from the British science fiction television show Doctor Who are represented by "Silents", genetically engineered members who share many characteristics with Slender Man. While it has been suggested that these creatures were inspired by Slender Man, Doctor Who producer Stephen Moffat credits their creation to Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, 1950's Men in Black myths and the Gray Alien myths.

Gallery

References

  1. Taino Indian Culture. Welcome to Peurto Rico. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Poviones-Bishop, Maria. That Bat and the Guava: Life and Death in the Taino Worldview. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hupia. Carribbean Mythology. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Noppera-bō. The Obakemono Project. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  5. Nopperabou. Scary for Kids. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  6. Waters, John. Was It For This?: Why Ireland Lost the Plot. p. 89.
  7. Tenaga-Ashinaga. The Obakemono Project. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  8. Hundun. Ferrebeekeeper. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  9. Cantrell, M. Asher. 11 Scary Evil Monsters From World Religions. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hurwitz, Siegmund. Lilith the First Eve. p. 39.
  11. Finkel, Irving L, et al. Disease in Babylonia. p. 89.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Slender Man in Mythology and Culture

  • Fake face?

    150 messages
    • PyroGothNerd wrote:Looks like our posts were about at the same time. Yeah,that's kinda werid.
    • TV- Tropes: Ruling the world since... EVAH
  • slender man

    7 messages
    • Either way, it's a cannibalistic monster.
    • Yeah. That I can agree on after my research. It eats human flesh.

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