Aluxob - Mayan Gnomes or Golems

There are tons of fairies and magical critters in The Unfinished Song. I’m always on the look-out for traditional magic creatures that I can adapt. I remake them to fit my world-building, but I do the research into whatever folk legends first.

It’s a great excuse to pursue my love of folklore and mythology.

The Aluxob are small, mischievous creatures are part of the world of the Maya, which are known from carvings and clay figurines from the ancient world. They play the same role as gnomes, hobs or leprechauns in ancient Celtic tradition. The Aluxob are usually only about 12 to 18 inches tall and are often found in maize fields, gardens, forests, and caves. They can become invisible or visible at will. They are usually depicted wearing traditional Maya dress. 

Some stories even describe them turning into small forest creatures like weasels or frogs. Weasel and frog shifters? Cool.

These creatures are known for their mischievous nature, and often show their displeasure at being bothered by spreading illness or wreaking havoc. However, they can also protect a farmer's milpa or give them good luck if they are kindly treated. In some legends, they are akin to brownies, and people leave them small offerings. In the past, the offerings were probably maize or beans. Now some people leave cigarettes, food, or candy. I’m not sure if this is good for the health of the Aluxob!

Interestingly, one frieze in Yaxchilan shows two dwarfs or Aluxob watching a ball player, leading some to speculate that they may have served as ball court attendants or judges.

Some sources claim that the Aluxob are created by shamans to protect farms and houses. This would make the Aluxob more like golems than like gnomes. According to one source, “…to create an Alux is difficult and prolonged work, needing much knowledge and proper support of offerings, and prayers to the secret beings who govern the life on earth, in the water, and in the air.” 

Source: “Aluxob in the Mayab,” Explorer, Institute of Mayan Studies, March 2015, Mark Cheney; Jim Reed.