In the lead up to Halloween, we have dipped into Stephan D. Mifsud’s The Maltese Bestiary to discover some of the most frightening characters from Maltese folklore.
In this article, we take a look at it-Tork tat-Taraġ, a house guardian who becomes dangerous when displeased or when his existence is revealed.
Name in Maltese: It-Tork tat-Taraġ
Name in English: Turkish guardian
First mentioned: During the period when Malta was ruled by the Hospitaller Knights, many lower-class, North African captives were retained as slaves for wealthy families. They cared for the family, looked after the children, and worked in the fields. Even after death, many were believed to remain in the place where they had worked, protecting and taking care of the family and its possessions.
Description: Apparitions of men dressed in Turkish garb have been reported in old houses, even in modern times. Most sightings take place in the space below the staircase or in the cellar, as these were the old living quarters of the servants. Turkish guardians, just like other types of household genie spirits, can make a family wealthy by providing gold or money, just as long as they are kept secret.
Most frightening qualities: Their sudden appearance in the dark shadows of a house is most unnerving. Although not usually dangerous, they can be angered if the house is kept in disarray, or if their presence is revealed to outsiders. Then, they will turn mean, so that sickness or unusual injuries befall the family dwelling within the house.
Find out more
Discover Maltese folklore’s scariest creatures and supernatural entities, as well as magical plants, ancient gods, and legendary beings in Stephan D. Mifsud’s The Maltese Bestiary. This 137-page, hardbound book was published by Merlin Publishers in 2014 and remains one of the definitive works on the subjects.