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The Nain Rouge

The Nain Rouge (French for red gnome) is a malevolent fairy creature that was initially reported in Normandy, France but reportedly emigrated to Michigan, USA.


Origin

The Nain Rouge originated in Normandy, France, as a type of goblin.


Description/Morphology

The Nain Rouge appears as a small child-like creature with red or black fur boots. It is also said to have "blazing red eyes and rotten teeth." (Skinner 1896)


Powers

The Nain Rouge is kind in his way to the fishermen, and often gives them valuable aid; but he punishes those who do not treat him with proper respect.

In a French fairy tale, Le Prince Lutin, written in 1697 has a description of the air, water and terrestrial lutin:

"You are invisible when you like it; you cross in one moment the vast space of the universe; you rise without having wings; you go through the ground without dying; you penetrate the abysses of the sea without drowning; you enter everywhere, though the windows and the doors are closed; and, when you decide to, you can let yourself be seen in your natural form.”


Beliefs

The Nain Rouge haunts Detroit, Michigan, United States and feared by its residents as "the harbinger of doom." (Skinner 1896) Its appearance is said to presage terrible events for the city.


Sightings

  • Two fishermen who lived near Dieppe, were going one day to Pollet. On their way they found a little boy sitting on the road-side; they asked him what he was doing there. “I am resting myself” said he, “for I am going to Berneville” (a village within a league of Pollet.) They invited him to join company; he agreed, and amused them greatly with his tricks as they went along. At last, when they came to a pond near Berneville, the malicious urchin caught up one of them, and flung him, like a shuttlecock, up into the air over it; but, to his great disappointment, he saw him land safe and sound at the other side. “Thank your patron-Saint,” cried he, with his cracked voice, “for putting it into your mind to take some holy water when you were getting up this morning. But for that you’d have got a nice dip.”
  • A parcel of children were playing on the strand at Pollet, when Le Petit homme Rouge came by. They began to make game of him, and he instantly commenced pelting them with stones at such a rate that they found it necessary to seek refuge in a fishing-boat, where, for the space of an hour, as they crouched under the hatches, they heard the shower of stones falling so that they were sure the boat must be buried under them. At length the noise ceased, and when they ventured to peep out, not a stone was to be seen.
  • The creature is said to have been attacked in 1701 by the first white settler of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who soon after lost his fortune. The creature is also said to have appeared on July 30, 1763 before the Battle of Bloody Run, where 58 British soldiers were killed by Native Americans from Chief Pontiac's tribe.The small tributary of the Detroit river,which still flows through what is now Elmwood Cemetery, turned red with blood for days after the battle.It is said he was seen dancing on the banks of the Detroit river.
  • Famous multiple sighting occurred in the days before the 1805 fire which destroyed most of Detroit. General William Hull reported a "dwarf attack" in the fog just before his surrender of Detroit in the War of 1812.
  • A woman claimed to have been attacked in 1884, and described the creature as resembling, "a baboon with a horned head...brilliant restless eyes and a devilish leer on its face." Another attack was reported in 1964.
  • Other sightings include the day before the 12th Street Riot in 1967 and before a huge snow/ice storm of March 1976, when two utility workers are said to have seen what they thought was a child climbing a utility pole which then jumped from the top of the pole and ran away as they approached.
  • More recently, in the autumn of 1996, according to an article in the Michigan Believer, the Nain Rouge was spotted by two admittedly drunken nightclub patrons, who claimed to both have heard a strange "cawing sound, similar to a crow," coming from a "small hunched-over man" who was fleeing the scene of a car burglary. The creature was described as wearing "what looked like a really nasty torn fur coat."

Art/Fiction

  • Detroit Beer Co., a brewpub in downtown Detroit, has as its signature brew a "Detroit Dwarf" lager, named in honor of the Nain Rouge.
  • In Palladium Books Rifter #36, Nain Rouge is an Optional Character for Beyond the Supernatural.


References

  • Le Prince Lutin by Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy in her Fairy Tales (Les Contes des Fees, 1697)
  • Myths and Legends of our Lands, vol. 6, by Charles M. Skinner, 1896;
  • Legends of Le Détroit by M.C.W. Hamlin, 1884.
  • Myths and Legends of our Lands, vol. 6, by Charles M. Skinner, printed about 1896, Nain Rouge.
  • Legends of Le Détroit, by M.C.W. Hamlin, 1884.


External links