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The word is often considered to be the Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of the English word “sprite” or the Japanese word yōkai and is used as an umbrella term for any fairy-like being such as goblins, pixies and elves (information obtained here, links are mine).
A Scottish equivalent is the Brownie. The Welsh equivalent is the Tylwyth Teg.
How do I recognise them?
Of small stature, wearing big hats and prone to whistling.
Where will I find them?
In Hispanic culture they live inside the walls of homes, especially in the rooms of young children.
They mostly appear at night.
How do I get their attention?
They have been known to attempt to barter with mothers in the hopes of obtaining the child to eat.
In some folklore anyone whistling was a target for attack.
How do I escape?
To banish one, all should dress in red with a cross drawn on the forehead. A fire should be made in which incense or myrrh should be burned. Every so often throw in hair taken from an identical twin born on Good Friday. Sprinkle Holy Water left and right and recite the Magnet prayer. Or just move home.
In some Latin cultures they are believed to help people who are lost in forests to reach home.
In Filipino stories, white Duende are good. Black are bad. Fairly predictable.
Excerpt from Encyclopedia of Fairies by Theresa Bane.