Darrell J. Pursiful

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Pisuhands: Fiery Estonian Household Spirits

By Alb1183 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http:// creativecommons. org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pisuhands are a type of Estonian domestic sprite that customarily assumes the form of a firedrake or small dragon. (Estonian and Finnish are related both linguistically and culturally.) While their Germanic cousins, the kobolds, often live in the hearth or behind the stove, pisuhands represent the fire itself. They are almost always male and with a youthful appearance when in human form. They are often being mistaken for small boys. They tend to wear red caps and white tunics.

Far from simple tonttus (the Finnic equivalent of Celtic brownies), pisuhands can have impressive magical abilities. In addition to their ability to assume the form of firedrakes, they might also turn into black cats or chickens. In some accounts, they appear as a rooster indoors and as a drake outdoors.

Pisuhands perform household tasks such as keeping the firewood dry as well as tending to the stable and barns and making sure that the pantry and money chest are well stocked. They have also been known to bring gifts to the master of the house. Occasionally, they acquire these gifts by stealing them from others. Furthermore, they are sometimes seen guarding treasure.

Pisuhands are often quite patriarchal in their outlook. They tend to form especially strong bonds with the male head of a household. They are very loyal to the families they serve. The master of a house should keep the firedrake well fed and treat it with respect. They can also become revengeful when insulted, and are liable to burn the house down.

They have been known to travel across the world doing chores for their masters, bringing them essential medicine, exotic foods, and gifts, in exchange for being taken care of.

If startled in flight, a pisuhand might drop some of his treasure. In some accounts, one can shout “half and half” or throw a knife at the creature to make him drop his treasure. If two people together see one, they should cross their legs in silence, take the fourth wheel off the wagon, and take shelter. The drake will then be compelled to leave them some of his haul.



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