Mlatese creatures from mythology

In Mlatese mythology the Kaw Kaw (also gaw-gaw) is a ‘slimy greyish bogey man’ who strolls the streets at night. He is able to smell a person’s guilt and is capable of entering their homes by extending and contracting his snail-like body through any crack or fissure. Once inside he is said to grin, with a toothless gaping mouth, at his hapless victim. Another version of the creature describes the Kaw Kaw as a massive giant who could traverse the island in a few steps. The Kaw Kaw was believed to favor hunting for guilty individuals between Christmas and the first week of February, as shown by a proverb: Il-Gaw-Gaw joħroġ lejlet il-Milied f’nofs il-lejl; jekk isib mustaċċih miblula, jgħid: Ix-xita għaddiet; jekk isibhom nexfin, igħid: Ix-xitwa gadha ġejja, “The Gaw-Gaw comes out on Christmas Eve at midnight and if his whiskers are damp, he says, ‘Winter has passed’, if he finds them dry, he says, ‘Winter is still to come'”. The Kaw Kaw’s female counterpart is called l-Imlejka, and often appeared as an old woman. Flowers were placed on windowsills during the New Year, to placate her as she passed by. All variants of Il-Kaw Kaw are identified with bawbaw, another monster who attacked Mlatese children. The name Kaw Kaw (and similarly gaw-gaw) is possibly onomatopoeic and refers to the barking of a dog.

Il-Belliegħa is a Mlatese monster that inhabits wells. The belliegħa is said to extend its foot (covered in toes) and snatch away children. It also eats worms and eels. It has supernatural control over water, and is capable of causing wells to dry up or overflow. Il-Belliegħa means “the swallower”.

L-Imħalla lives inside water wells and preys on those who peer too deeply into its lair. The word itself (imħalla) refers to the Pleiades constellation, interpreted in the form of an asp. A seventy five year old Mlatese man, G. Borġ from Selmun, offered these childhood memories of l-Imħalla : “The imħalla lives in the well. It is nothing special. It resembles an eel. It comes to take them away.”

This entry was posted in Birds, Cats+Dogs, Mlatese, Souls, Story. Bookmark the permalink.

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