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In Taíno culture, the hupia(also opia, opi'a, op'a, operi'to) is the spirit of a dead person or a vampire who kidnaps babies at night..


In Taíno religious beliefs, hupias (spirits of the dead) were contrasted with goeiza, spirits of the living. While a living goieza had definite form, after death the spirit was released as a hupia and went to live in a remote earthly paradise called Coaybay.


Hupias were believed to be able to assume many forms, sometimes appearing as faceless people or taking the form of a deceased loved one. Hupias in human form could always be distinguished by their lack of a navel. This interest in navels is especially meaningful if one considers that the navel is the point at which newborns are attached to their mothers. In light of the matrilineal descent customs of the Taino, the navel or physical link to the mother also determined a person's place in the community or society. Thus hupias were spirits without faces and navels. They were spirits that lacked both a unique individual identity and a place within the Taino community derived from the mother's line of descent.


Hupias, as spirits of the dead and the night, were feared and said to seduce women and kidnap people who ventured outside after dark. Hupias were also associated with bats and said to hide or sleep during the day and come out at night to eat guava fruit.

Literary References

In the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, hupia are suspected in a rash of attacks on infants and other people in rural Costa Rica. They were described as "night ghosts, faceless vampires who kidnapped small children". Later events showed that the real culprits were dinosaurs (probably compsognathids or Velociraptors) that had escaped from Isla Nublar.


  1. Maria Poviones-Bishop. The Bat and the Guava: Life and Death in the Taíno Worldview
  2. Mask Master: Taino Dictionary
  3. Crichton, Michael. 1991. Jurassic Park, Random House, 1990: 8-10, 23-24. ISBN 0-345-37077-5.
  4. Dasrath, Sparky. The Arawaks
  5. Deiros, Pablo. Fundación Kairós. Religiones indígenas del área caribeña
  6. Guitar, Lynne. 2005. Taino Caves
  7. Poviones-Bishop, Maria. The Kislak Foundation. The Bat and the Guava: Life and Death in the Taino Worldview