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Papa Bois is the old man of the forest in Trinidad folklore and is known by many names, including "Maître Bois" (master of the woods) and "Daddy Bouchon" (hairy man).

Papa Bois appears in many different forms, sometimes as a deer, or in old ragged clothes, sometimes hairy and though very old, extremely strong and muscular, with cloven hoofs and leaves growing out of his beard. As the guardian of the animals and the custodian of the trees, he is known to sound a cow's horn to warn his friends of the approach of hunters. He doesn't tolerate killing for killing's sake, and the wanton destruction of the forest.

There are many stories of Papa Bois appearing to hunters. Sometimes he turns into a deer that would lead the men into the deep forest and then he would suddenly resume his true shape, to issue a stern warning and then to vanish, leaving the hunters lost or perhaps compelling them to pay a fine of some sort, such as to marry "Mama Dlo".

If you should meet with Papa Bois be very polite. "Bon jour, vieux Papa" or "Bon Matin, Maître" should be your greeting. If he pauses to pass the time with you, stay cool, and do not look at his feet.


Trinidad View