The Kallikantzari – An Image in Nikos Gatsos’ Amorgos Nikos Gatsos: A Bibliography

Michael Loosli


According to traditional Greek folklore, the kallikantzari (sing. kallikantzaros) emerge on earthat night during the twelve days of Christmas. Whilst descriptions of them vary, in common arethe characteristics of extreme ugliness and thinness. Each, moreover, is in some way deformed:‘Some are lame, some are one-eyed, one-legged, bow-legged, with twisted mouths, faces,hands, some are hunchbacked, wrinkled; and briefly, all of the defects and infirmities you willfind upon them.’ Usually they are reported as having the stature of dwarfs, with long unkemptbushy hair, savage red eyes, boar-teeth, the hands of an ape ending in long hooked fingernails,and the feet of an ass; or alternatively, with one of an ass and one of a human. Their clothing istattered and in wretched condition. Peculiar to this dress is the large thick cloak, the pointedcowl which they knit themselves from pig’s bristles, and shoes made of iron. They are veryagile, climbing walls, walking on the roofs, entering by way of the chimney, etc. Their diet con-sists chiefly of worms, frogs, snakes, lizards, but even more so if fried. They are keen cogno-scenti of the dance, a special dance being named after them: ‘the dance of the kallikantzari.’

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