One of Patagonia’s many dwarves is Trauco, it lives in the forests of Chiloé and northern Patagonia.
Chiloé Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean close to the southern coast of Chile and the snow capped Andes. It is a mountainous forested rain drenched island, with a jagged coast filled with fjords.
Here in this land, which once belonged to the Chono “boat men”, and that was later invaded and occupied by the Huilliche of Mapuche origin, lives a horrible midget, the Trauco.
According to Chilean ethnologist and archaeologist Ricardo E. Latcham (1903-1965) its feet are like shapeless stumps (lacking toes or heels), it lives in the company of its female partner, the Trauca. In its aggressive sexuality, it resembles a European incubus.
It as a: “deformed dwarf […] a monster of repugnant aspect and perverted inclinations […] [of] horrible ugliness. It lives in the trees”.
It wears clothes and a conically shaped hat woven from quilineja [Luzuriaga polyphylla, a local creeper used by the Chiloé islanders to weave baskets] and carries a coarse stone axe, which it uses to chop trees.
It is lecherous and violent, sexually assaulting any women that it finds in the forests and attacking men, hitting them with its axe.
George Chaworth Musters, a Briton who was the first European to travel in 1869 along the Patagonian steppe between the Chilean settlement of Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan to the Argentine town of Carmen de Patagones on the Rio Negro, wrote about it.
He reported that his Chilean guide during the first part of his trip had told him about the Trauco, a “fabulous creature” shaped like a “wild man, an, covered with a fell of coarse shaggy hair. This nondescript […] is said to descend from the impenetrable forests and attack the cattle on which it preys”.
All these descriptions coincide in portraying a small, aggressive and wild human-like being that is very similar to the other Patagonian dwarves (we will post about them soon).
The Trauco myth also extends northwards from Chiloé to the Mapuche people who live in Arauco and Valdivia. These people took this belief with them when they migrated across the Andes from Chile to what is now the Argentine province of Neuquén during the XVIth century, escaping from the war with the Spaniards.
 Latcham, R., (1924). La organización social y las creencias religiosas de los antiguos araucanos. Santiago: Cervantes. pp. 577.
 Vicuña Cifuentes, J., (1910). Supersticiones. Estudios del Folklore recogidos de la tradición oral chilena. Santiago: Imprenta universitaria. pp. 32.
 Keller, C., (1972). Mitos y leyendas de Chile. Santiago: Jerónimo de Vivar. pp. 34.
 Musters, G., (2007). Vida entre los Patagones: un año de excursiones desde el estrecho de Magallanes hasta el río Negro: 1869-1870. B. Aires: Continente-Pax. pp. 121.
Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©