Everything You Need to Know About El Sombrerón

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One of the stranger folktales we’ve come across (courtesy of Remezcla Music Editor Isabela Raygoza and I’s guest stint on NPR; stay tuned!) is from Guatemala. El Sombrerón – or Tzipitio, or Tzizimite, or simply “the goblin,” depending on who you ask – serves as a cautionary bogeyman, particularly for young girls. As his name might suggest, he goes about wearing an enormous hat – a black one, in fact. He’s said to dress entirely in black, save for his ornamental boots and belt and other bling.

He has a strange obsession with braiding – he often braids the manes and tails of horses, and when there’s no horses about, sometimes braids dogs. When neither is around, he follows young women with large eyes and long hair. He arrives in town with a pack of mules, and when he finds a woman that suits his tastes, he ties his mules up outside her house, and serenades her with a silver guitar (Note: a guitar made of silver would probably sound terrible).

When he gets her back home, he’s known to serve them soil for dinner, which renders them unable to sleep. (We’re not sure why they eat the dirt, or that dirt has any properties that cause insomnia other than messing with your stomach.)

The legend goes that a young girl named Susana in La Recolección – yeah, she had pretty hair and big ol’ peepers (that means eyes) – was admiring the moon and stars from her balcony one night when she was approached and serenaded by a man in a big hat. Worried and upset that their daughter was outside so late, Susana’s parents forced her to come inside. The man in the hat returned and serenaded her each night, making it impossible for her to sleep, and whenever her parents would try to feed her, she’d find the food contaminated with dirt. Fed up, the parents cut the girl’s hair and had it blessed by a priest – naturally, this caused the goblin to stop bothering her, either because of the holy water or because he didn’t like chicks with pixie cuts.

Culturally, this story does exactly what it sounds like it does: it scares young girls into obeying their parents and into being modest and coy around men. Observe those cultural norms, lady, or you will be forced to eat dirt by a short ugly stalker in a big hat like that guy you knew in college that wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.