Clarissa Johal: #FolkloreThursday - The Sandman #European

Thursday, June 23, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - The Sandman #European

De Zandman. Frontispice uit de Nederlandse vertaling
'Sprookjes: tweede verzameling', 1847

The Sandman. Most think of him as a mythical character from European folklore who sprinkles magical sand onto the eyes of children and brings good dreams. His appearance is usually that of an old man wearing a gold robe and carrying a bagful of sand. Innocuous enough, right?

But there are other creatures bearing the name Sandman--and these creatures are very different. The first has long fingers, sharp teeth and skin that is decayed and discolored, like a that of a dead person. It hides in the dark and whispers, "tik-toc, tik-toc" to its unlucky victim, putting them into a deep sleep. Once asleep, this Sandman will come out of hiding and devour the sleeping victim with its sharp teeth. It only needs to feast once per night, but will sometimes choose to kill for fun.
The other Sandman was used to scare children in the early 19th century. He would sneak into the rooms of children who wouldn't go to sleep and throw sand into their eyes, causing them to itch. When the child rubbed, their eyes would fall out on the floor in a bloody mess. The Sandman would then collect these eyes to feed to his pet bird that lived on the crest of the moon.
Sleep well, little children.

By the late 19th century, the nightmarish Sandmen had transformed from monsters, into a benign character that brought children pleasant and happy dreams. This led to the belief that there were two Sandmen, perhaps brothers. One brought good dreams, while the other had more evil intentions. In some stories, the powers of these Dream Creatures became even greater. Each person or family had their own Sandman. They could give you a dream you want, power over your own dreams, or glimpses into your future. Over the years, the folklore continues to change due to references in popular culture. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Sandman fifty years from now.

So...which Sandman will be visiting your bedroom tonight?

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