The trasgo or trasgu is a mythological creature present in the tradition of several cultures of nowadays northern Spain, specially in Asturian and Cantabrian traditional culture, it is also found in legends of Portugal. In other parts of Europe it is also known as “gnome” “sylph,” or “kobold.” The origin of this mythological creature is Celtic and comes from Northern Europe.
The trasgu is the best known being of Asturian mythology, and is shared with mythologies of Celtic origin. It is a domestic goblin with a mischievous and nervous character. It is often represented as a tiny man who limps with his right leg; he has dark skin, wears red clothes and a pointy red hat. He has a hole in his left hand. He is described at times as having horns, tail, sheep ears and long legs, and wearing a long black and gray cloak; at other times he is described as small, with long thin legs and wearing a tight dark brown dress.
Nocturnal noises are attributed to him, and also small pranks like changing the location of objects. He enters homes at night when the inhabitants are asleep. If he is in a bad mood he breaks kitchen vessels, spooks cattle, stirs chests of clothes and spills water. These activities do not cause material damage, because the inhabitants find everything as they left it. On the other hand, when he is treated well, he does house chores during the night.
In Asturias, the trasgu is known by different names depending on the location. He is known as Trasno, Cornín or Xuan Dos Camíos in western Asturies. He is known as Gorretín Coloráu or the one with the “gorra encarnada” (both meaning “little red hat”) in eastern Asturies.
How to get rid of them:
It is difficult to get rid of him when he annoys. If the house inhabitants decide to move to a new house, he follows them. In a tale, the inhabitants of a house abandon it because of the trasgu. On their way to the new house, the woman asks her husband: “Have we left anything?” The trasgu, following them, answers: “You have left the lamp, but I’m carrying it.”
In order to expel a trasgu it is necessary to request of him an impossible task, like bringing a basket of water from the sea, picking up millet from the floor (it falls through the hole in his hand), and whitening a black sheep. Because he thinks himself capable of doing everything, he accepts the challenge. In his stubbornness, he will try until he becomes exhausted. When he fails to accomplish the tasks, his pride is hurt. He leaves and does not return. He will also become spooked if someone falsely recreates actions proper of goblins.
- El gran libro de la mitología asturiana, Xuan Xosé Sánchez Vicente and Xesús Cañedo Valle, Ediciones Trabe, 2003, p. 111-112 y 114
Traslation from Spanish to English:
1st.- Drunken trasgu. Author: Alberto Alvarez Peña.
2nd.- Trasgu sleeping in an Asturian wooden clog. Author: Alberto Alvarez Peña.
3rd.- Trasgu leaning on an apple. Author: Alberto Alvarez Peña.