The name means ‘barb maiden’, and refers to this female demon’s long flowing hair, which is tipped with barbs. She finds young men on the road and laughs at them; if they laugh back, she lets down her long, needle-like hair and attacks them with it. The lesson here is clear: if a lady laughs at you, be a man and brush it off. Or she’ll kill you with her hair. Or something.
So really, given this monster and the Rusalki, you should stay away from women with long hair entirely. You might also just want to avoid Japan altogether. As well as the Harionago, Japan boasts the Nikusui or ‘flesh sucker’, a female monster who will suck all of the flesh off her victims (nah, too easy), and also the Ohaguro-bettari, who appears in a temple with her face hidden from view. When you get close enough, she turns around, screaming, to reveal that her face is a featureless white mask except for a mouth full of jet-black teeth.
This monster is not a kind of car, but the Malaysian ghost of a woman who died in childbirth. She disguises herself as a beautiful girl to attract male victims, and then tears them open with her long fingernails and eats their internal organs. Sometimes she also removes her male victim’s genitals.
Take note of how many of these female ghosts and monsters are described as beautiful women who seduce men and then kill them. You could argue that it’s based on some misogynistic fear of sexually powerful women, but at least one writer has pointed out that the tales could have been spread by wives in order to encourage their husbands not to fool around on them. Telling them a story about so-and-so in the next village who fell in with a beautiful woman and got his intestine chewed on is sure to work a lot better than just giving him the silent treatment.
La Llorona (North America)
The name means the Weeping Woman, and this girl, too, was originally human. Her origin story varies – either she was a young mother who neglected her children and let them drown in a river, or she deliberately killed her kids to get revenge on a cheating husband. Once she realized the terrible crime she’d committed, she walked the banks of the Santa Fe River until she died, and apparently continued to do so afterwards. She can be seen weeping at the riverbank, crying out “My sons!” Although the story originated in the Southwest, it’s spread through the country and the apparition has been reported as far north as Montana. La Llorena often snatches children and drowns them in the river (although you’d think she would have learned after the first time). Occasionally she goes after adults as well, presumably just because she can.
This story contains a clear lesson for all of us: if a woman kills her children, don’t let her mourn in public somewhere until she finally dies. Arrest her.
- - Aswang (The Philippines) : http://csiribusz.freeblog.hu/files/filipino_aswang01.jpg
- - Rusalki (Russia and the Ukraine): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Rusalka_Bilibin.jpg
- - Lamia: http://www.eaudrey.com/myth/images/lamia.gif http://drnorth.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/jaws.jpg
- - Baba Yaga (Eastern Europe): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%91%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%B0_%D0%AF%D0%B3%D0%B0.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Izbasmerti.jpg
- - Harionago (Japan): http://blog.sanriotown.co.id/niwaexia:hellokitty.co.id/files/2009/11/harionago.jpg
- - Pontianak: http://www4.picturepush.com/photo/a/1591682/640/1591682.jpg
- - La Llorona (North America): http://www.mi.uni-erlangen.de/~plaumann/xmas2002/index/LLORONA.JPG