Velue

Variations: Hairy Beast, Hairy One, Shaggy Beast, Shaggy One (English); Peluda (erroneously outside of Spanish writings)

velue

The Velue, the “shaggy one” or “hairy one”, is a dragon from the Huisne River, near La Ferté-Bernard in the Sarthe. It was overlooked by Noah during the Flood but survived anyway, nursing a grudge and devoting its existence to spiteful destruction. The Velue’s egg-shaped body was the size of a large ox and covered with shaggy green fur from which pointed spikes emerged. It had the head of a nightmarish snake and the massive legs of a tortoise. Its snake’s tail could slay man and beast alike with a single swipe.

The creature breathed fire and ravaged farms and crops. It gobbled down flocks of sheep and ate shepherds for dessert. It would even be so bold as to enter the streets of the old city – moats and walls were powerless to stop it. When pursued, it would return to the Huisne, displacing enough water to cause it to flood and ruin the surrounding fields.

Women and children were the dragon’s favorite food, and it prioritized agnelles or “she-lambs”, the most beautiful and virtuous maidens of the land. This was to be the Velue’s undoing. After it took a young damsel for a meal, it was hunted down by the girl’s fiancé and tracked to its lair in the Huisne under an ivy-covered bridge. He stabbed the dragon’s tail and killed it instantly. Its death was much celebrated.

The tale of the Velue is relatively new. Its basis dates from the 15th Century and it was resurrected and expanded in the 19th Century. Much of it is in the tradition of French local dragons such as the Tarasque, but it has not had any major festivals or iconographic conventions. The oldest and only presumed historical depiction of the Velue is a terracotta fountain sculpture dated from the 17th or 18th Century, found in a ditch on the road of La Chapelle-Saint-Rémy.

If anything the use of the term agnelles for Fertois women has existed separately from the dragon. In the 16th Century La Ferté-Bernard sided with the Catholic League during the wars of Henri IV. Its governor Dragues de Comnène was a wily commander who claimed descent from the Eastern kings. During a siege led by René de Bouillé, the governor sent a detachment of soldiers out of La Ferté disguised as women. The ruse almost worked; some of the besiegers came gallantly up to the damsels and found themselves under attack, but René de Bouillé’s forces quickly sent the disguised warriors packing. The victory highly amused Henri IV and provided no end of jokes concerning “les agnelles de la Ferté, dont il ne faut que deux pour étrangler le loup” (“the she-lambs of the Ferté, only two of which can throttle a wolf”).

The term “peluda” has gained traction as a name solely because it was used by Borges. Some sources even claim it to be an Occitan word – never mind the fact that La Ferté-Bernard is nowhere near the Midi. Borges used the word as a direct Spanish translation of “velue” (much like “hairy beast” or “shaggy beast”) and has absolutely no business being used outside of a Spanish context.

References

Borges, J. L.; trans. di Giovanni, N. T. (2002) The Book of Imaginary Beings. Vintage Classics, Random House, London.

Charles, L. (1877) Histoire de La Ferté-Bernard. Robert Charles, Pellechat, Le Mans.

Clier-Colombani, F. (1991) La Fée Mélusine au Moyen Age. Le Léopard d’or, Paris.

Flohic, J. (2001) Le Patrimoine des Communes de la Sarthe, v. II. Flohic Editions, Paris.

Roy, C. and Strand, P. (1952) La France de Profil. Editions Clairefontaine, Lausanne.

16 Comments

  1. Hiya – This is ‘QuirkyBestiary’ from Tumblr here. I have some serious questions about the Velue. I know that this is the version which is most commonly (and correctly) accepted, but I found a radically different description of the entity in the book ‘Monster! An A-Z of Zooform Phenomena’ by Neil Arnold.

    In this book, he instead describes the Velue thusly:
    This is a strange, snake-headed humanoid with quite a history. It resided in French folklore as a beast covered in green fur with long, tentacled suckers on its flesh. The creature killed its prey by using the sting from its suckers, and was a threat to humans. It was hunted on several occasions, but always disappeared into the Huisine river, until finally it was destroyed.

    Have you any ideas as to why this might be? Where did he get this idea and how on earth did he come to such a different conclusion as to the identity of the Velue? Is this idea even remotely mythologically valid, because I would really like to use it in my bestiary project!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Perhaps. I’ve looked for information on the Velue as separate from the erroneous Peluda, but could honestly find nothing. The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who wasn’t described as a creature with venomous suckers and a snake head, though, right? I know that it has suckered fingers but it presumably lacks the other features of Arnold’s ‘Velue’…
        I remember that Joe Thomas (wannabedemonlord) has contacted Neil Arnold to get the sources for some of the more obscure creatures mentioned in the book in question, but it turns out that Mr. Arnold has since lost his interest in cryptozoology and has gotten rid of the sources that he used – which is really irritating! There are some amazing creatures listed in that book, most of which are modern but there are some really obscure ancient creatures such as a benevolent purple-skinned phantom hound that I cannot remember the name of.
        So it seems as if we have no way to find out where Arnold found his information for the Velue. The details seem oddly specific and really intriguing, which is what irritates me about not being able to find it at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I found this completely randomly and may bring a little bit in my homeland’s folklore, I live in the south of France (or in the North of the Catalunya for some people) and we have a bogey used to scare children from going in the mountain called the Peluda (not the Spanish word, but we use the almost the same in Calatan), which is a hairy man-like monster, eating lost children and lost goats.

    Like

Leave a Reply to Diego García Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s